David Mann

Company: Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.
Company URL: http://www.ballaerospace.com/page.jsp?page=40
School: Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering
Hometown: Vienna, VA
High School: James Madison High School
Expected Graduation: 2011

My college search centered on respected Aero/Astro Engineering programs and a Co-Op type program.  As a senior in high school, I felt that co-oping was the most important and informative option available to college students.  Purdue's program is so structured and has so much heritage, it was obvious the help and support required for a positive experience was already in place.

My employer is Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., located in Boulder, CO.  The best part of working at Ball, besides the opportunity to work on really cool projects from Hubble to the Shuttle to Deep Impact to Kepler, is the people.  There are few exceptions to the culture of friendly, intelligent, and helpful coworkers throughout the workplace at Ball.  Living in Boulder is a plus that should not be overlooked.  The first challenge I faced at Ball was simply learning how the corporate world works and communicates.  The number of TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) is, well, astronomical. 

The great aspect about co-oping is how much you learn about your chosen industry and yourself.  Just as importantly as finding something you enjoy, you learn what you don't like to do.  It gives you perspective while back at school, allows you to focus your attention on the most applicable portions of each class, and I feel it's made me a much more well-rounded engineer.  That being said, I co-op because it's fun.  There's no homework; there's plenty of opportunity to learn how to handle your paycheck, how to cook for yourself, and how to incorporate yourself into unfamiliar surroundings and make it home.  As a high school student, I felt co-oping was single best thing I could do while in school and now I'm sure of it.