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Three MAE students spent their summer learning what it takes to power up gas turbines for Siemens Energy, firing up their future careers in the process.

The mechanical engineering trio — doctoral students Nandhini Raju and Ryan Wardell, and master’s student Yakym Khlyapov — are all students of Jay Kapat, Pegasus Professor and Center for Advanced Turbomachinery and Energy Research (CATER). 

For the past 12 weeks, the group has put theories learned in class and at CATER into practice for Siemens.

Khlapov, who aspires to land a position in the additive manufacturing field, was able to get real-world experience during the internship by working on 3D printed parts for gas turbines.

“I have learned a lot of additive manufacturing and production, and about gas turbines in general,” he says.

Raju’s internship experience focused the design aspect of turbines, including hands-on experience with the equipment and protocols used in testing materials at high temperatures and analyzing the results. Her efforts will aid in Siemens Energy’s research and development of future turbines.

“Interning at Siemens presented a unique opportunity to enhance my skill set and make a meaningful impact in a dynamic and forward-thinking environment,” Raju says.

As part of the internship, the group was paired with UCF alumni at Siemens Energy who served as their mentors: materials engineer Kirtan Patel ’08, additive manufacturing application engineer Andrea Osorio ’16 ‘18MS, and [insert Ryan’s mentor here].

“The mentorship experience has emphasized the importance of various soft skills essential for professional success. Team building has been emphasized, fostering collaboration and effective communication among team members,” Raju says. “Additionally, I have gained a deeper understanding of the significance of leadership skills, such as taking initiative, motivating others, and coordinating efforts.”

Raju will complete her journey as a Ph.D. student this fall, hooded by her advisor Kapat. Her academic endeavors may continue however, as she works to build a career in aero-mechanical research with a post-doctoral fellowship.

She’s also considering a role as a research engineer for industry pioneers like Siemens Energy.

“Working in such organizations would not only provide valuable industry experience but also offer extensive training in research methodologies and development of innovative technologies,” Raju says.

Her ultimate goal is to stay true to UCF’s adage of reaching for the stars by working for NASA. Thanks to her experiences at UCF, she’s uniquely positioned to join the nearly 30% of UCF alumni employed by NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Raju says she envisions playing a role in developing advanced technologies and propulsion systems, or contributing to space exploration missions.  

“The opportunity to collaborate with top-notch experts, access state-of-the-art facilities, and be involved in pioneering research at NASA would be a dream come true.”