Internships Foster Essential Skills and Relationships — One Summer at Wisk

August 2, 2022

For this year’s summer internship, Wisk received over four thousand applications! From this impressive group, approximately 15 college students were selected to spend two months learning about aviation and the unique world of Advanced Air Mobility (AAM). Internships provide a unique opportunity for students and up-and-coming talent and are offered across many areas at Wisk, from operations, to engineering and manufacturing.

We recently caught up with Rishi Patel, who interned on our Systems Engineering and Integration team. Rishi is a rising senior studying aerospace engineering at Virginia Tech. Like us, he is passionate about AAM and sees it as an essential part of the future of transportation.

Internships are offered in the summers with the next round of applications opening in 2023. If you are interested in applying or would like to learn more, visit our Careers page.

What was your internship experience like?

My internship experience has been great! I came into this internship specifically wanting to learn more about systems engineering. This internship has shown me what the job is like on a practical level.

My mentor has also been a superstar, and he was phenomenal at getting me up to speed. I have learned so much about the various jobs and responsibilities in the company. The people here want to support you and help you get to wherever you are going in your career.

What was your most memorable experience?

The phone call informing me that I got the internship was probably the most exciting!

At Wisk, I would say that the most memorable parts have had to do with learning about the requirements of systems engineering. I have learned a new tool called Cameo, that helps model the interaction between actors in a system and their behaviors. I have also enjoyed learning about new parts of aviation and how we have expanded the borders of the industry. For instance, we currently have Visual Flight Rules (VFR) and Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), but at some point we may also have Digital Flight Rules (DFR) which still need to be defined. What’s fun about working in the AAM space is that we are on the cutting edge of aviation development and bringing a new industry to life.

What was the most important thing you learned?

From a systems engineering perspective, I learned how to level up and view problems on a more holistic level. I also developed a better appreciation of the size of the problem and how complex it is to address problems which are entirely new to the industry. How do you solve something entirely new? I learned that I enjoy this kind of challenge.

Also, I came to really appreciate the value of teamwork. The most productive work sessions were always team-based, with everyone sharing ideas around the room.

How were you able to contribute to Wisk during your internship?

Over the last two months I have worked primarily on two projects: refining our current set of vertiport requirements and use-case development.

The vertiport requirements determine how we want our aircraft to interface with ground infrastructure. Because our planes are self-flying, having clear requirements means they can operate anywhere.

A use case is a model that represents how a system performs. We use use-cases to break up a high-level problem into smaller and smaller pieces until we can understand system requirements and measure functionality. These models are derived from a Concept of Operations (CONOPS) that detail how different systems perform. For each use-case, I modeled how different individuals (i.e. actors) in a system could behave and the potential different responsibilities and interactions between each of these actors. I hope to complete five use cases before the end of my internship.

How did your internship contribute to your professional/academic/personal growth?

Everything I have done in this internship, I didn’t learn in school, though I think this is true for any company. It has taught me to appreciate solving a problem. Academically, a problem is a barrier to progress, whereas at Wisk, the problem is the way forward. Here, everything seems more practical and feasible. My aerospace engineering education is very theoretical, and here everything was made tangible.

Professionally, having practical experience with my systems engineering education will be incredibly beneficial. Now I know where to focus on expanding my knowledge and if there are other avenues of interest I want to explore, like flight-test. I now also understand where my passions and interests can transfer, not to mention the connections I have made and the impact on my resumé.

Personally, I have been able to see if this is the field for me. I really enjoyed the culture and the vibe of the company. Wisk is also a smaller company, and I found that to be an advantage.

How do you hope to use your new skills in the future?

This fall, I will have a capstone project to design an air vehicle. While I may not have access to the same MBSE software, I now have a better idea on how to deconstruct and manage this project effectively.

For my capstone project I will be working with a team. At Wisk, we managed sprint tracking, and my capstone team will have to organize our project in a similar way in order to keep people informed and accountable.

Do you have any words of wisdom for future Wisk interns?

Every time you come to work, remember why you are here. If you don’t enjoy something, that is okay. It is part of learning and finding out what you value. Everyone at Wisk is here to help you and you are not expected to know everything, so be kind and give yourself time.

Once you have completed this internship, reflect on what you enjoyed and what you didn’t, then take that into the future wherever you go.

Also, network! I learned about this internship by networking with a systems engineer at Wisk — this shows the power of good networks: they are very, very, important.