Junior interns at Pratt & Whitney, studies abroad in Spain

Jen Bradley

Junior Jen Bradley has not let COVID-19 get in the way of building her resume.  Though she originally wanted to become a pharmacist, her love of chemistry led her to the field of Materials Science and Engineering, and in the past year, she has studied abroad in Spain and completed an internship at Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford, Conn.

Bradley, who hails from Connecticut herself, received the summer job in Pratt & Whitney’s Materials and Processes Engineering department about a week after completing an online interview.  Throughout the summer, her main responsibilities included data analysis and visualization of a large database of part lifetimes. She identified trends which led to higher-than-average part failure for airlines and regions and created a permanent tool to quickly identify change in those trends as she gathered more data.

"There was basically any material focus you could want at Pratt & Whitney,” said Bradley. “Pratt is a huge company, with divisions for polymer design and processing (for fuel tubes, etc), ceramic matrix composites (for next generation turbine blades and other lightweight high temperature parts), nickel based superalloys for hot section turbine blades, and just about anything else you could think of.”  Some of the engineers she worked with included chemical engineers who designed CVD and PVD systems for ceramic coatings and statisticians who analyzed data.

The hiring manager at Pratt & Whitney told Bradley that her Matlab and programming experience made her resume appealing.  “Everyone in the materials department programmed tools and analyzed data in Python, Matlab/Mathematica, and Excel,” said Bradley.  “I really think the single most important and attractive skill you can learn at CWRU, especially as a first or second year, is programming.”  She estimated that 80-90% of her work at Pratt & Whitney was programming.

By spending the pre-covid portion of Spring Semester 2020 studying at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid in Spain, Bradley got a perspective of the field of materials science and engineering in another country.  She learned that engineering in Europe primarily focuses on “large scale projects on a national or government scale.”  While in Spain, Bradley took a course taught by an American-born professor that transferred as EMSE 276 and also took a solar engineering course.  Her solar engineering course primarily focused on concentrating solar conductors, optimizing existing technologies for new regions and improving existing technologies, whereas her courses at CWRU often had a heavier focus on emerging technologies and optimal conditions.  

After she graduates in 2022, Bradley hopes to pursue a career in semiconductor design.  “I am extremely interested in microprocessors and photovoltaic systems, and think materials engineering is a fantastic path to pursue that.”  She praised her academic advisor and former lab instructor, Associate Professor Mark De Guire, for being “constantly available and supportive whenever questions or uncertainties arise.”