Kelly Guiberteau, a senior in Mechanical Engineering, recently completed the second semester of a two semester co-op with United Space Alliance in Houston, Texas.

Kelly Guiberteau, University of Louisiana, Mechanical EngineeringKelly was hired as a co-op with the Crew Escape Equipment team.  This is the team of engineers and technicians which process the Advanced Crew Escape Suit (ACES) and other equipment used by the astronauts in emergency situations during launch and entry of the shuttle.  As a team, Crew Escape makes sure that all of the suits and emergency packs are ready, safe, and fitted for each mission.  The Crew Escape Equipment unit also supports many training events for the astronauts including bail out training and other simulated events. 

In the first semester of her co-op, Kelly began by “learning the ropes” and received training in company policies.  She was then assigned to do some of the simpler tasks of the engineering team of crew escape.  She also assisted the engineers on larger projects by doing research, finding equipment, and taking pictures of discrepancies that the team was were dealing with.  By the end of her first co-op, she had started to work on some of the smaller components of the suit. During Kelly’s second term with USA, she was given considerable responsibility. Kelly was assigned to do multiple projects where she actually was the main person running the projects.  These projects included making drawings and updating procedures. 

During both co-op terms, Kelly assisted in astronaut fit checks.  A fit check is when the astronaut comes in to the suit room and tries on everything to make sure that they have all the things they need or want for a launch and that everything fits. 

Kelly Guiberteau, University of Louisiana, Mechanical EngineeringUSA made sure that the co-op participants were given a well rounded educational experience. They participated in a number of co-op activities and were allowed to visit and go to places that are generally closed to the public.  Co-op participants had the opportunity to be on the floor of the Apollo mission control room where they were able to see one of the flags that they brought back from one of the lunar missions. As part of the co-op experience, Kelly attended lectures presented by astronauts, company directors, and mission control flight director from Apollo 13, Gene Kranz. She toured the Neutral Buoyancy Lab (NBL) and even got to stay and watch "Space Cowboys," a movie in which many of the scenes were filmed on site at Johnson Space Center.  Co-ops even participated in a “body drag” event where astronauts who had flown already were training to be rescuers in the case of an emergency extraction from the flight deck and middeck of the shuttle.  Kelly got to participate as a subject in manned suit testing training for the technicians. 

While Kelly is glad to be back for the Fall semester to finish her final year of studies, she feels that her co-op experience was beneficial both educationally and personally, allowing her real-world work experiences and insights into career possibilities for a mechanical engineer.

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