From model airplanes to the Dreamliner

From model airplanes to the Dreamliner

Ben standing in front of the Boeing 787, a.k.a. The Dreamliner that he worked on during his internship

Ben Beezhold ’12

MAJOR: mechanical engineering
HOMETOWN: Seattle, Wash.
POST-GRAD PLANS: working as a structural design engineer at Boeing on the 777X airplane

Gluing together model airplanes as a child, Ben Beezhold had no idea that his future held working on one of the world's truly “model” airplanes. Still, his love of airplanes led him on a path to Boeing, where, as an intern he worked on the award-winning 787 Dreamliner.  

The summer before his senior year, Ben was a stress engineer intern at Boeing’s Long Beach, Calif., location. In this position, he worked with a team of engineers designing hardware to secure interior commodities installed in the 787 Dreamliner, awarded the Robert J. Collier Trophy for greatest achievement in aeronautics. His days were filled performing complex stress analysis on the various pieces to ensure the parts met all Boeing and FAA requirements. 

IT ALL BEGINS AT CALVIN

Ben started preparing for his dream internship in the classroom at Calvin. In his mechanical engineering courses and senior capstone class, Ben’s profs told personal stories from their industry experiences, which, he said, is very helpful in preparing students for careers. 

“Knowing the science and fundamentals behind how things actually work is one whole aspect of preparation. The other side is Calvin’s liberal arts—being really comfortable with doing verbal communication and speeches, and using my writing skills.” 

One of the coolest parts of his internship was working with students from other schools. “I was with students from several prestigious California universities and felt well-prepared to jump in and help the team. The engineering profs hammer the fundamentals into you so you know them instinctively; this makes you really stand out.”

ENGINEERING+CREATIVITY=A JOB OFFER

Through his internship as a stress analyst, Ben discovered that he wanted to be more involved in the up-front design instead of detailed analysis. This would allow him to make better use of his creative skills. Following his successful internship and recent graduation, Boeing hired Ben as a full-time design engineer where he now works in the company’s product development area.

For Ben, his internship was the perfect transition from student to full-time professional. 

WHY CALVIN?

I really liked the idea of a liberal arts college: expanding from purely technical curricula to one that included courses like philosophy, English and even music.

Q: WHY ENGINEERING AT CALVIN?

I attended Fridays at Calvin my junior year of high school and can still remember gazing at the engineering building with a sense of awe. Here was a place dedicated to the engineering department complete with state-of-the art labs, classrooms and workspaces. I hoped to someday be a part of that community.

HOW DID CALVIN HELP YOU GET READY FOR A REAL JOB?

I want to personally thank Professor Nielsen for his mentoring in this area. His frequent anecdotes provided students with insight into the workplace and emphasized the importance of honesty, humility and integrity.

YOU'RE FROM THE INFINITELY COOL CITY OF SEATTLE? SO WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT GR?

Grand Rapids has without a doubt become one of my favorite cities. I especially enjoyed the thriving music and art culture. Annual events like ArtPrize created a lot of great discussion about artforms. It’s a dynamic city that offers many unique experiences—an especially great place to live as a student.

VERGE: fall 2012

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