International Internships: Danish Engineers on the F-35 Program

Several years ago, a Lockheed Martin executive and one of his colleagues at a Dutch university saw an opportunity for students in the Netherlands to gain experience in the aerospace industry through internships on the F-35 program. What began as an idea between these colleagues to provide a learning opportunity for a small group of students has turned into a unique and exciting career opportunity for dozens of young Dutch and Danish engineers.

In 2003, the first interns from Delft University in the Netherlands came to Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth facility for an extended internship on the F-35 program. This year, the first interns from Denmark were brought onto the program. Thor Andersen from Aarhus University was one of those first Danish interns.

Thor worked with the quality engineering team on the F-35 line in Fort Worth, Texas. “One of the most important things I learned from my experience was learning to see how processes are linked and how a change in one place may affect the product further down the production line,” Thor says. “This has made vital contributions to my personal engineering skills.”

Thor-Andersen

Danish interns Frederik Midtgaard and Thor Andersen on the F-35 Flight Line during their time working on the program in Texas.

Thor’s experience in Fort Worth gave him an opportunity to acquire a position with Terma A/S, the Danish aerospace and defense manufacturer who also co-sponsors the intern program, as a design engineer shortly after returning home to Denmark. “My greatest passion is aviation, so I was pleased to find myself reassured in my decision to pursue a career in the aerospace industry,” he explains.

The second class of Danish interns will begin their internship in January of 2016, this time from Denmark Technical University.

Strengthening the Workforce Pipeline

The international intern program is part of larger efforts by Lockheed Martin and Terma to address the shortage of students interested in careers in fields related to science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. Over the next several years, there will be more jobs available in STEM areas than any other occupations. Giving students exciting opportunities like this internship is one way to inspire and excite young people who will need to fill the gap.  

“Success for our science, technology engineering and math students today depends on collaboration among industry, educators, policy makers and families,” explains Jack Crisler, Lockheed Martin vice president of F-35 international business development. 

This internship program inspires students to pursue careers in STEM – but the F-35 program also benefits from the fresh and unique perspective and ideas they bring to the table.

“Shaping the future of Danish industry is critical, and we are committed to inspiring young minds,” said Jens Maaløe, president and CEO of Terma, the largest F-35 industrial partner in Denmark. “We are impressed by the skills and technological insight the students obtain through the five month internship.”

Making A Difference

DTU

Front Row: Marc Alexander Samuelsen, Trugvi Kristiansen, Liane Hansen, and Magnus Kvisgaard, DTU 2016 interns. Back Row: Alumni Intern Thor Andersen; Jack Crisler, Lockheed Martin; Jens Maaløe, Terma; Martin P. Bendsøe, DTU.  Not pictured: Andreas Noerballe, DTU 2016 intern .

Each intern has their own unique story to share of how they got to where they are today, and each is enthusiastic about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Liane Hansen is most excited about working at a large company like Lockheed Martin and having the opportunity to be exposed to the F-35 program. “I always thought I wanted to be a scientist,” Liane explains.

But during product development courses at her technical high school, she discovered that engineering would be a better path for her. “I realized that I want to work on something for progress, something that could be used in society and make a difference in the world.”

Magnus Kvisgaard has had his sights set on engineering since he was 8 years old. After spending some time in the Danish Armed Forces, he made the decision to go back to school to earn an engineering degree.

His expectations for the internship are high. “I’m most excited about working for Lockheed Martin – this company is always on the forefront of technology in so many areas and around the world. And, I mean, it’s a fighter jet that we’ll be working on – that is just so cool and exciting.”