Malcolm Malone, Gary, Indiana
Making a difference
I want to open my own MRO (maintenance repair operation) and help out some kids back at home and help rebuild my city. I was given an opportunity to learn some things, and I want to give people the same opportunity that I got. It shouldn’t just stop with me. I’ll have my Airframe and Powerplant certificate, showing that I know what’s going on. I’ll also have to get some type of business degree or background, that way I’ll know how to run my business financially.
My major is aviation specific. They are training us to be able to communicate between engineers and technicians. We’re a hybrid group of people. I used to say that I’m going to be an aircraft mechanic. But that was before I took some of the courses that help explain the engineering principles. All of the professors are very knowledgeable about what they are teaching. They have a lot of experience, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard them say “I don’t know”. AET is a close-knit community. Everybody knows everybody.
I always wanted to come to Purdue. AET sounded interesting, and ever since I started taking classes, I’ve loved it. My first class was very hands-on. I was surprised by how much trust the professors put in us. We had teaching assistants to look over us, but it seemed like a pretty big responsibility. It showed me that there was a lot of hands-on work as well as classroom work. We could see what’s going on and not just have a professor lecturing to us.
I helped with a research project involving the effects of biofuel on current airplane fuel systems. I worked with students from different majors. I helped figure out what materials are used in the fuel systems and assisted the group with finding information in the maintenance manual and illustrated parts list.
I worked as an avionics installation intern over the summer for Duncan Aviation in Battle Creek, Michigan. There is a possibility that they will offer me a full-time job. The previous summer, I interned for Caterpillar in Peoria, Illinois, working with CAD modeling. AET exposes us to a lot of different disciplines: advanced manufacturing, electronics (troubleshooting a system), non-destructive testing, logistics. All of these topics can be applied to other things than aviation. I also took a spring break study abroad trip to Amsterdam, Paris and London. It gave me a sense of more things out in the world and how other people worked. In fact, it was my first time out of the country and my first time on a plane.
Senior design project
My senior design team is looking at ways to reduce the cost and time involved home-built aircraft. We came up with using 3D printing. We started with the wing. We had to print out the core and see if it would be able to compete with the current foam core. I learned a lot from that class, including that everything is not going to go your way all the time.