Intern Rocket Program Perseveres

August 14, 2020

Over the course of the summer, around 50 United Launch Alliance (ULA) interns from Denver, Colo., Decatur, Ala. and Cape Canaveral, Fla. participated in the annual ULA intern rocket program. The program, led by ULA's Derek Blash and Cara Hope, is designed to provide an opportunity for interns to connect with each other while building and launching high power sport rockets.

“This year’s intern rocket launch was a little different from years past. Instead of launching one big rocket, interns and mentors were invited to build and launch their own rocket,” Cara said. “Each person launched a Level 1 or Level 2 class rocket, then recovered their rocket and received certification.” Typically, interns receive an L1 certification from their local rocket club through the National Association of Rocketry.

Interns and mentors utilized virtual community platforms to facilitate training and building sessions in light of the social distance guidance brought on by COVID-19.

“Being there in person is really helpful when you are trying to instruct during the build phase, since this was not possible, [online platforms] provided a great alternative,” Derek said. “I also wanted this to be a fun opportunity for them to connect with one another and I think it worked out really well in light of the circumstances.”

The program introduces the fundamentals of rocketry to interns from all over the company, and provides interns who do not come from engineering backgrounds the hands-on opportunity to participate in a mentor-led launch.

“My passion for aerospace started back when I was a kid building Estes rockets with my dad,” said corporate finance intern Nick Dolanski. “Participating in the intern rocket program helped me connect the work I’m doing as a member of the finance team to our overall mission of launching rockets.”

Each year the program coordinators evaluate what type of rocket the interns will build and launch. Last year ULA and Ball Aerospace interns celebrated the Apollo anniversary by launching the 35-foot tall Future Heavy Super Sport rocket that reached a peak altitude of 5,500 feet.

“I think everyone was really excited to get the chance to build a rocket this year,” Derek said. “At a minimum, this program represents what ULA hopes for its interns; we want to see them succeed, develop relevant skills, and hopefully one day return to contribute as a full-time employee here at ULA.”

To launch your career, learn more about ULA internship opportunities here.