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Internship Profile: German Acosta Quiros, Aerospace Engineering’20 (Rocket Lab USA)

Name: German Acosta Quiros
Class: 2020
Hometown: Miami
Degree: Aerospace Engineering
Internship (Company Name and Location): Rocket Lab USA; Huntington Beach, Calif.

How did you find this internship?
I cold called one of the directors at Rocket Lab USA and kept up with the company before and after their first successful orbital launch in January.

Describe your internship.
At Rocket Lab, I’ve been a propulsion manufacturing engineering intern. In other words, I’ve helped support the production of the 10 Rutherford first and second stage engines that propel the Electron to sun-synchronous orbit with up to 150 kilograms of payload. I’ve shadowed the entire build process to design fixturing and processes that improve and scale our manufacturing capabilities. I’ve worked alongside world-class interns, technicians, and engineers to take NewSpace’s leading company forward.

What did you learn at CoE that has helped you at your summer internship?
At UM, I’ve relished in the opportunity to take initiative and drive new action. The CoE has hosted my organization, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and its flagship projects – the Rocket Canes and the Design, Build, Fly teams – giving dozens of students unmatched hands-on experience with aerospace design, manufacturing, and testing. From the first time I cut a chip in the Machine Shop to static-firing our largest Solid Rocket Motor, the technical knowledge I was able to bring to Rocket Lab was born in the halls of McArthur. My soft-skills have also been a refined byproduct of these experiences at UM. Here at Rocket Lab, the vice presidents, lead engineers, and technicians work side-by-side. Navigating the startup-corporate-engineering-shop environment is not something taught in class but drawn from the close-knit interactions at the CoE.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned at this program?
Manufacturing often starts as an art, but the closer it can be brought to a science, the better the end-result will be. Rocket Lab is transitioning from startup to full-fledged launch provider. With the rapidly expanding growth and evolution come hurdles, hits, and bruises, but the hard-working team in California and New Zealand have a passionate drive to get everything right. I’m impressed every day with the ingenuity shown, and the self-reflection used to push everything forward. I’m honored to be a part of its history.

Why has this been a good experience for you?
The Space Industry has solar-system-spanning opportunity for employment and advancement, but the barrier to entry often requires having a strong foot in the door, and everyone knows everyone. Working at Rocket Lab has introduced and taught me to heaps of technical knowledge on the manufacture and design ethos behind orbital class bi-propellant vehicles, but just as importantly, it’s been a powerful move for my career. Wherever I go forward, I can assuredly say it started here: throwing up the U in front of the premier launch-provider for the small satellite industry, and the coolest company around.

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