AFTC Summer Internship Creates Next Gen Leaders

  • Published
  • By Tech Sgt. Tabatha Arellano
  • Air Force Test Center

Created by former Secretary of the Air Force, Dr. Heather Wilson as part of a force renewal initiative, every summer since 2018, the Air Force Test Center has hosted a variety of internship programs for students 18 years old and up. This opportunity has capitalized not only at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., but at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and Arnold Engineering Development Complex, Tenn.

This 10–12-week summer internship provides a variety of science engineering opportunities, gives students the chance to test out a hands-on experience, and learn more about operations in that specific job.

“Since this was my second summer at the Benefield Anechoic Facility, the internship met my expectations. Last summer, when I started, I didn't really know what to expect other than I would be working with radio frequency equipment. My boss and team did an amazing job of incorporating me into the flight, teaching me how to use the equipment, and ultimately preparing me for a job as an RF engineer,” said Jesse Brunet, 772nd Test Squadron radio student trainee, at Edwards, AFB.

“At the 772nd Test Squadron Benefield Anechoic Facility, I worked several projects relating to our antenna patterns and radar target simulator capabilities. These included developing software for instrument automation, characterizing new equipment, and leading an effort to evaluate and upgrade our polarimetry system,” said Brunet. “My favorite experience as an intern has probably been the opportunity to work with our radar target generator, ARES. This capability allows us to simulate a target for a radar so that the radar can be tested without having to actually fly the plane around. Working with ARES helped me learn a lot about radar and how advanced some modern radar systems are becoming.”

Dayana Contreras, 412th Test Engineering Group/812th Aircraft Instrumentation Test Squadron engineering student trainee, worked in the instrumentation department designing and analyzing a support system for the Reconfigurable Airborne Sensor, Communication and Laser – or RASCAL – pod at Edwards, AFB.

Contreras wrapped up the summer internship program, leaving with more on-the-job knowledge.

“[For those who are considering the program, my advice would be to] try your best and approach every situation and challenge with an open mind,” Contreras said.

The S&E hosts multiple internship programs every summer and interns are typically college students with at least 60 credit hours and a 2.95+ GPA.

AFTC executive director, Dr. Eileen Bjorkman said, "Intern programs are a great recruiting tool, and they help us to hire the right college graduates. First of all, the intern programs help us reach college students who might otherwise not be aware of the exciting opportunities we have in the Air Force Test Center. Second, the programs allow us to get to know someone before we hire them and lets the students learn about the different options available across AFTC."

“When we hire someone right out of college who's been an intern for us, we get someone already several months ahead of their peers regarding AFTC, and we already have a good idea of where to place that person to maximize the benefit to both them and AFTC," said Bjorkman.

The program’s success over the years is attributed to the Talent Acquisition managers.

“I have over five years of experience working with the Force Renewal Programs in Air Force Life Cycle Management Center and Air Force Sustainment Center. I am responsible for acting as the liaison between AFTC organizations, interns, and Air Force Personnel Center/Air Force Material Command S&E Career Field Team Program Offices,” said Katherine Ficklin, AFTC S&E Talent Acquisition manager. “The duties under that umbrella include, but are not limited to, ensuring recruiting, onboarding, promotions, conversions and evaluations happen in a timely manner for all AFTC locations.  We currently have over 160 participants in our Force Renewal Programs (PCIP, SMART, PAQ).”

Interns are selected through the Direct Hiring Authority, providing the most suitable students from across the country, with the goal of developing the next generation of the Air and Space Force’s leaders.

“The best part of the job for me is recruiting the best and the brightest S&E candidates to fill AFTC’s pipeline to ensure we are providing warfighters quality products, at or below cost in a timely manner,” said Ficklin. “Being able to follow the career of interns from recruiting all the way to becoming a PM or Supervisor. As an engineer, internships were hard to come by for me so I try to ensure to cast the net for AFTC’s internships as far as I can to ensure we are reaching as many qualified candidates as possible.”

At this moment, AFTC has 50 internship positions available for summer 2023 between Edwards AFB, Eglin AFB, and Arnold AFB.

For more information or to register, visit the sites below: