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Dayton Engineer

Female student posing for camera in front of airplane engine.

Internships, research, social events: how one student found her way at UD

By Sarina Tacovic, University Marketing and Communications

Internships can help students determine if they’re on the right career path, or allow them to course-correct while still in the security of school. For UD mechanical engineering student Jean Nash, one internship with GE Aerospace did both.

Nash was an intern last summer doing quality engineering with GE Aerospace. While she enjoyed growing her mechanical engineering experience, something just wasn’t right.

“I liked what I was doing and I learned a whole lot, but when they did mini-lessons on the engineering behind the jet engines, I wasn’t excited,” Nash said. “I realized planes aren’t really my thing.”

Luckily for Nash, GE’s work doesn’t stop at airplanes, but extends into renewable energy, too, something that fit well with her passion for sustainability. With the help of her boss at the time, Jamie Rausch ’08, Nash connected with a recruiter on the other side of the company.

“Once I finished my internship with GE Aerospace and came back to school in the fall, I got a phone call with an offer for the GE Renewable Energy internship,” Nash said. “At that point I had a return offer to work for GE Aerospace in Dayton, but I thought, this is what I want to do, so I should do it. There was no way I was going to turn that down.”

Nash is now in South Carolina for the renewable energy internship. She’s excited to learn more about the electrical and mechanical components in wind turbines and find her footing in a new town away from home, but more than anything, Nash wants “a wide variety of experiences” before joining the workforce after graduation.

Internships aren’t the only way Nash has found her calling. Her involvement with the UD Grand Challenges Scholars program — a program related to the National Academy of Engineering’s 14 goals for improving life on Earth and the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals — helped her get involved with studying the effectiveness of solar panels and piqued her interest in research and development. Last spring, she won the Martin C. Kuntz ’12 Award of Excellence as an outstanding junior in mechanical engineering, and took her first graduate-level class as a part of the UD’s Bachelor’s Plus Master’s program to get a master of science in renewable and clean energy in just one additional year after completing her bachelor’s degree.

Nash credits her involvement and leadership growth to the University’s community-oriented mission. As a freshman during the pandemic, she didn’t have the traditional social experience of mingling with students from different floors and dorms, but Women in Science and Engineering events helped her make quick friends.

“It’s thanks to programs and social engagement opportunities like that that really allowed me to grow as a person,” Nash said. “In high school, I was silent, I didn’t talk at all. It’s so weird to think about because I talk to everyone now. The word community is not a joke here — it’s a real thing, and I like it a lot.”

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