Russell Gee and Esteban Cook (top center) were embedded into the Instrumentation division at Yuma Proving Ground during their 10-week summer internship. (Top, left to right) Maria Villegas, Steve Taylor, Russell Gee, Esteban Cook, Jose Rodriquez, Daniela Villegas, Yelitza Candelas (Bottom, left to right) Lance Kerestes, Jacob Lopez, Ruben Hernandez, Justin Warren
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Russell Gee and Esteban Cook (top center) were embedded into the Instrumentation division at Yuma Proving Ground during their 10-week summer internship. (Top, left to right) Maria Villegas, Steve Taylor, Russell Gee, Esteban Cook, Jose Rodriquez, Daniela Villegas, Yelitza Candelas (Bottom, left to right) Lance Kerestes, Jacob Lopez, Ruben Hernandez, Justin Warren (Photo Credit: Ana Henderson) VIEW ORIGINAL
Steve Taylor mentored Russel Gee during this internship at Yuma Proving Ground. Both interns had to present a final project. Gee’s including testing an item he designed.  (Courtesy of Paula Rickleff)
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Steve Taylor mentored Russel Gee during this internship at Yuma Proving Ground. Both interns had to present a final project. Gee’s including testing an item he designed. (Courtesy of Paula Rickleff) (Photo Credit: Ana Henderson) VIEW ORIGINAL

Two university students recently spent their summer at U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) getting hands-on experience thought the Test Resource Management Center (TRMC) Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Internship Initiative.

Both students are current mechanical engineer majors, yet the TRMC STEM internships are available to students in other STEM fields.

Esteban Cook and Russel Gee didn’t know what to expect during their internship at YPG. Cook said while he knew YPG was a test installation, he didn’t realize the caliber of testing and also the workforce behind it.

“Once we went to the testing sites, I was pretty amazed to see how the test took place-- all the logistics behind every test,” said Cook.

Cook, a senior, and Gee, a junior, were both embedded within a division at YPG and assigned a mentor. Cook’s mentors were Jose Rodriguez and Jacob Lopez. Steve Taylor mentored Gee.

To their surprise, YPG uses the same computer aided design program they use in school. They also felt comfortable with the engineering process since what they learned in school translated into the real-world.

“I was tasked with designing camera mounts for the Kineto Tracking Mounts. I had to go through three different prototypes. I would make it in Solid Works, come up with a different version of it, then print them with the 3-D printer and see which worked the best. Then, I talked with the team about what changes could be made to improve it,” said Gee. He adds, “Overall it was a huge collaborative process.”

As for Cook, he realized he enjoyed the quality control aspect of engineering that the Automotive Instrumentation section specializes in overseeing.

Both value the summer they spent alongside the engineers at YPG.

“This has been my most productive summer of my life. I have learned a lot about how the Army works and the logistics behind it,” remarked Cook.

Gee agrees, “I like to say this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I never thought I would have the privilege to work with the military.”

“The benefit of the program is primarily for the enrichment of the intern and to bring awareness of possible career opportunities within the test and evaluation organizations,” explained YPG Workforce Development and STEM Outreach Manager Paula Rickleff.

Yet she notes, “YPG does benefit in the sense that our mentors and supervisors have the opportunity to help influence and grow future STEM professionals. Mentors work with the interns and oversee their immersion with the workforce and our mission.”