Interns leave mark at Ford

Immersed among the collaborative minds and competitive ingenuity of Ford Motor Co.’s research facilities, Megan Shewey spent three months working alongside engineers in the Roush Mustang composites group. A mechanical engineering senior, she completed a summer internship at Ford in 2014, and the experience was priceless.

“One of the coolest things I got to do was a full component crush test,” she said. “I used a one-of-a-kind loading tool that applied force the same way the component was loaded in the actual vehicle. It was loud and a lot of fun.”

Megan Shewey
Megan Shewey

Shewey is part of TU’s legacy at Ford. With the help of John Henshaw, Harry H. Rogers Professor of Engineering, at least 30 undergraduate and nine graduate students have interned at the Dearborn, Mich., facility since the early 1990s. Many of those students returned to Ford as full-time employees after their internships. The research Shewey performed on the mustang’s Next Generation Composite Instrument Panel was her taste of the real world.

“I took a component of the panel and conducted tensile and compression testing to determine which materials had the strongest and longest fibers,” she said. “Ford wants to save weight and manufacturing time by making instrument panels out of composite material.”

A year later, the Enid, Okla., native set her sights on an internship closer to home. She conducted similar composite research at NORDAM, an aviation company in Tulsa. “I enjoyed the material properties research I did at Ford, and I think it’s something I’d like to pursue,” Shewey said. “Even though interning there was a little intimidating at first, I was encouraged to ask questions, and I was pleasantly surprised at the number of women in the research division. They were brilliant, very welcoming and easy to talk to.”

From the laboratory to the product design floor, Shewey’s involvement at Ford’s Research and Innovation Center has given her the confidence to express her creativity in the Make a Difference Engineering (MADE at TU) program. She and mechanical engineering peers have completed fabrication of their second MADE service project — the Sit ’n Scoot mobility device for children at Tulsa’s Little Light House.

Mechanical engineering senior Connor Langford also interned at Ford in 2014. He worked in the Manufacturing Research Department, studying the influence of quench delay on the strength and bendability of heat treatable aluminum in support of Ford’s new F-150 truck design.

“The internship gave me invaluable experience in an engineering position and made me aware of what exactly I’m looking for in a career,” Langford said.

This past summer, mechanical engineering seniors Ryan Barnes and Hannah O’Hern continued the TU tradition as Ford interns.