The Samuel Ginn College of Engineering at Auburn University and Boeing have enjoyed a longstanding partnership in support of Auburn students.
Beyond funding scholarships and supporting underrepresented students and student organizations, Boeing is now providing opportunities for dozens of Auburn Engineering undergraduate students to obtain hands-on, real-world design experience on groundbreaking aerospace projects.
The Industry Design Experience for Auburn Students, or IDEAS, program currently employs nearly 50 students through the university who are working on critical projects such as NASA's Space Launch System core stage and exploration upper stage; the U.S. Air Force's new digitally designed, built and tested T-7A advanced trainer; upgrades to the F-18 fighter jet and the B-1 bomber.
Students are issued a badge, computer and email address just like onsite Boeing employees, and some even have the opportunity to earn security clearances and work at Boeing facilities during summer or holiday breaks. The university provides a dedicated secure workspace for the students in the program.
Sushil Bhavnani, the Henry M. Burt Professor of mechanical engineering who has been a member of the engineering faculty for the past 35 years, serves as the director of the IDEAS program, while Samantha Allbrook serves as the pro-gram administrator through the college's Business Office.
To date, more than 150 Auburn students have participated in the IDEAS program with Boeing.
Ken McCormick, 1990 mechanical engineering alumnus and Boeing's director of executive transport structures and innovation, said Auburn was selected for this program because of its outstanding reputation across the aerospace industry and it has benefitted everyone involved.
Former IDEAS student employee Sean Farkas, a 2022 mechanical engineering alumnus and current systems engineer/analyst at Torch Technologies, said his experience with the program paved the way for his current position and gave him an advantage over other applicants.
"As an entry level engineer who had multiple job opportunities right out of college, I want to stress the importance of gaining work experience while in school, whether that be through a co-op, internship, research or the IDEAS program with Boeing," Farkas said. "For me, the IDEAS program provided fantastic opportunities to learn about how a company like Boeing operates, how the Space Launch System is designed and how to think like an entry level engineer when completing work tasks. Learning these skills as a college student furthered my interest in the defense and space industry and gave me the experiences that employers ask about when you're searching to land a desired career."