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Mechanical engineering major Andrew Rogers '03 (Annapolis, Md.) is serving an internship this summer with the U.S. Army at Ft. Monmouth, N.J., contributing to work on a mobile battle command center called the Standardized Integrated Command Post System V-5 Rigid Wall Shelter.

Since starting June 3, Rogers has attended meetings with contractors, sat in on classes and demonstrations with sergeants, and traveled to Ft. Benning, Ga., to attend an infantry conference. His main responsibility is to help ensure that contractors' work meets Army specifications.

“For example, one of the contractors is trying to stack the shelters on top of each other and wants to do it three high,” explains Rogers, who will work throughout the summer and return during the January interim session. “They did a finite element analysis – a major report. I looked over that and determined that the report was sufficient. The good thing is that I had just learned about finite element analysis last year.”

The Rigid Wall Shelter is placed on the back of a Humvee, a durable, wide-bodied military vehicle with four-wheel drive. “If you're on the battlefield, you attach a tent to it and set up command on the move,” says Rogers, a mathematics minor.

He learned about the internship through former varsity track and field teammates Mark Kitz '00, Michael Schwartz '01, and John Smolenski '01, all of whom graduated with degrees in electrical and computer engineering and now work as computer engineers at the base's main post.

Rogers' supervisor is another alumnus, Arno Kohler '82, assistant product manager for the Rigid Wall Shelter, who has worked for the Army since graduating Lafayette with a degree in civil and environmental engineering. He notes that Rogers brings a fresh perspective as a young engineer and valuable contributions in supervision.

“We're pretty busy in this office, particularly on my project,” says Kohler. “There's a lot of testing to witness and reports to review. We need all the hands we can get.”

Hiring an intern like Rogers helps the Army bring younger employees into its aging work force, he adds.

“Andrew is not considered a summer hire,” says Kohler. “He's almost guaranteed a job when he graduates. When he interviews with companies during his senior year, we feel we'll have a leg up because he'll have an idea about what's going on here and how we do things. If he does accept a permanent job offer, we'll get an experienced guy.”

“While civilian government work has been interesting for the first month, having a Lafayette graduate a few cubicles away to work with and share college stories with has made the experience a delight so far,” says Rogers.

The internship is giving the student a different view of engineering compared to last summer, when he worked in the Mechanical Design Division of Northrop Grumman's Oceanic and Naval Systems Sector in Annapolis. His primary duties then were redesigning the anchoring system of a SEAL team submarine and designing a pressure test for lithium-ion batteries in the sub.

“My experience working for a government contractor was hard-core engineering,” he says. “Every day there was a different problem dealing with the nuts and bolts of engineering. My current internship deals with the management side of engineering — the bottom line as far as getting a product operational.”

“I've learned that engineering is a lot more than just number crunching,” he adds. “You have to do so many things — be a lawyer and a leader, and do calculations at the same time.”

In the fall, Rogers will begin working with other mechanical engineering seniors on one of several year-long design projects offered by the department. He is still considering his options: a remote-controlled robot called a BattleBot, a radio-controlled model airplane, a mini-Baja off-road vehicle, or a Basic Utility Vehicle for carrying cargo in Third World countries.

Rogers says he appreciates working with his mechanical engineering professors and being able to meet with them throughout the day. “They're friendly and I enjoy having personal relationships with them,” he notes.

Rogers also cites Lafayette's close-knit community as one of the school's main strengths. “I like being part of something without getting lost in a larger university,” he says.

In addition to competing in track and field, Rogers is president of Lafayette Sports Council and a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.

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