Internships are a great way for students to put their knowledge into practice and to gain hands-on experience in the field. But interns aren’t the only ones who benefit from the experience — industry partners and organizations also receive valuable contributions and new insights into their work.

Raytheon Technologies, a research partner of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, was so impressed with the work of recent intern Sydney Giannuzzi that they honored her with an Innovation Achievement Award for her outstanding contributions to their research and to the team.

“Sydney’s work ethic and enthusiasm for the project are remarkable, and it has been a pleasure to have her be our intern this summer,” the awarded certificate reads. “We are looking forward to continued collaboration with her throughout her Ph.D. work.”

Giannuzzi, an aerospace engineering doctoral student, completed the internship this past summer at the defense company’s Hartford, Connecticut, location. She worked on the design and analysis of a novel flow valve that can more easily test operating conditions for aircraft engines. The goal is to better understand the damping process so that aircraft engine designers can prevent the dangerous conditions that could lead to engine failure.

The project is funded through a $899,000 grant from the Office of Naval Research, which facilitated the collaboration between Raytheon and UCF. Jeffrey Kauffman, director of UCF’s aerospace engineering program, is the principal investigator of the project, which includes two 10-week internships at Raytheon.

Although other UCF students have assisted with the research, Giannuzzi is the first to work on the project as a Raytheon intern. She says she’s thrilled with the progress her team made and with the recognition it garnered.

“I am honored that my team and supervisor appreciated my contribution and thought to submit me for this award,” Giannuzzi says. “It means a lot to be recognized by such a talented group of individuals.”

The project taught her the value of collaboration and how to work with various teams to produce a viable result — a lesson that will stay with her as she embarks on her career.

“I learned how valuable it is to get to know the people you work with and to identify everyone’s strengths,” Giannuzzi says. “We can accomplish so much more together if we utilize each other’s knowledge and experience.”

After graduation, Giannuzzi plans to work in the aerospace industry with a focus on structural dynamics for aircraft and spacecraft. She says that UCF was always the top choice for her doctoral education due to the location and its reputation for being a partnership university with relationships with aerospace engineering companies.

“Connecting with Dr. Kauffman helped to solidify my plans when I learned about his research focused on structural dynamics and adaptive structures,” Giannuzzi says. “I don’t think I could have found a better fit for me in regard to my research interests and the connections that I have made through my research at UCF.”