Shaping Tomorrow’s STEM Leaders

Shaping Tomorrow’s STEM Leaders
July 29, 2020

You: Lockheed Martin summer intern.

Problem: Four weeks to redesign an aircraft you have never seen in person and fly it head-to-head against other teams in virtual races.

Your team: Fellow interns available via video and chat for virtual problem solving, networking and camaraderie.

Mission: Accomplished [Virtual high-five!]


This summer, Lockheed Martin welcomed 2,400 interns, more than half of whom are working virtually. In addition to gaining real-world experience on projects supporting the F-35 to Orion, and hypersonics to helicopters, over 400 interns have been designing and testing drones and aircraft in voluntary simulation software projects. The projects are designed to challenge engineering skills and bring fellowship and fun to the virtual internship experience.

“Over the next 15 years, Lockheed Martin will hire 50,000 new STEM professionals, so we have a vested interest in engaging talented young people in exciting technology careers,” said Dan Heller, vice president of engineering and technology, Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems. “We attract the best and the brightest students from across the globe, many of whom join us as full-time employees after their internships. Using technologies such as simulation, we are testing their engineering, critical thinking and teamwork skills from their own homes.” 

Lockheed Martin PREPAR3D Simulatioon

At Sikorsky, virtual interns are using Lockheed Martin’s professional flight simulation software, Prepar3D (pronounced “prepared”). In Prepar3D, users can take control and see the effects of their decisions, experiment with challenges that develop critical thinking skills and collaborate with students around the world to solve real-life problems and hone their teamwork skills.

“Intern teams are conceptually modifying a fixed wing aircraft in the simulator and then racing their designs against other teams in an online lobby over our Sikorsky facility in Stratford, Connecticut,” said Tadd Shiffer Jr., a former intern who now serves as an intern program co-lead and an associate research engineer at Sikorsky.

Prepar3D offers interns the same training experience that private pilots, commercial organizations and militaries rely on for immersive, experiential learning. For decades, Lockheed Martin has been developing trusted A/AI technologies to help humans maximize safety, performance and situational awareness across domains.

“We pretty quickly adapted our summer intern project so interns could compete in a custom training scenario where they are flying modified Lockheed Martin aircraft virtually,” said John Carone, an Associate Manufacturing Engineer and intern coordinator.

For Meghan Moscarelli, an advanced concepts intern working on the Future Vertical Lift helicopter program, this experience has exceeded her expectations.

“My last internship had outside-of-work activities to get to know other interns, like group hikes and dinners but nothing during work hours,” said Moscarelli, a student at Penn State University. “This project has been especially great because we are meeting other interns, while also learning new skills and competing. Plus Prepar3d is a crazy cool software that I otherwise never would have experienced.”

Peggy Hutchison, a materials engineering intern, firmly believes the skills learned this summer will advance her career in engineering.

“Working with a team of peers outside of a classroom setting is a vital skill for any Engineering job,” said Hutchison a student at Purdue University. “The remote project provides a unique experience working though software and communication challenges online, rather than in person.”

Lockheed Martin DRL Sim
Drone Racing League's simulator in action!

Using the Drone Racing League’s (DRL) virtual simulator, about 300 Lockheed Martin interns are competing in a cross-site virtual drone race. The competition allowed interns to gather insight into all aspects of project management at Lockheed Martin, from design to racing and sustainment.

“These projects are so much more than a run-of-the-mill design project that you’d find in a classroom. We provide interns with an experience that they can hopefully utilize later in their careers,” said Electrical engineer and intern program co-lead, Richard Pieri. “Through slightly ambiguous assignments and tough engineering challenges, they are developing their own course of action to design solutions without a rubric or manual.”

This outside the box thinking pushes interns through all the stages of product development. “Most of our programs take decades to work through the full project life cycle, these interns are getting a taste of that full experience in a short couple of weeks,” said Bryan Senchuk, a Senior Hardware Engineer and intern program co-lead.

Beyond this project, intern program coordinators are offering social events for interns, an executive speaker series on professional development, and a mentor match program to connect interns with employees who can support their development.

Anthony Mistichelli, an engineering intern and Virginia Tech student, said, “the knowledge I have learned about the aerospace industry, customer interactions, and the design process during this project is not something taught in any classroom. This project has given me a keen advantage in my career by expanding my knowledge and understanding of how programs work.”

If you think you are up for a challenge like this, consider joining the team. Check out open internships and jobs!

COVID-19 Relief and Response: 

  • Lockheed Martin has hired more than 10,500 new employees across the United States since the COVID-19 crisis began and is advertising for more than 2,800 roles. The corporation remains on track with plans to hire 12,000 employees during 2020. 
  • Learn more about Lockheed Martin’s response to COVID-19.