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Dennis Polen Education Foundation


The Dennis Polen Educational Foundation was founded in February 2003 by Richard Keyt, foundation president. Dick is an airline pilot, former US Air Force pilot, certified flight instructor, licensed aircraft mechanic and machinist and holds a bachelor of science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Minnesota.

The Foundation stimulates innovation and strengthens work habits with practical, one-on-one training for young people in the field of aviation through partner sponsored internships. The internship serves as a student's first job, providing valuable experience, and filling the ever-expanding void between theoretical (classroom) knowledge, and practical skills (construction, problem solving and building).

Student interns reside at the Polen facility at Pecan Plantation airpark in Granbury, Texas. The airpark’s central runway is surrounded by a neighborhood of aviation enthusiasts whose experience and knowledge of aircraft and aviation provides an ideal environment to learn aviation skills at all levels.

Students learn to apply their knowledge using machine tools, computer programs and technical skills to solve challenging engineering and construction problems in a real-world environment. Interns are responsible for projects based on their interest and knowledge level, initially guided by foundation instructors and gradually working independently, taking ownership and pride as the project progresses.

Curriculum

Aircraft / Aerodynamic Design
Students are involved in aircraft design and modification using both computer aided design, analysis and testing programs and real-world modeling, molding and airflow testing. Projects include aircraft and systems design and modifying experimental aircraft for increased efficiency and performance.

Engineering
Students apply theoretical knowledge of mathematics, physics and materials learned in the classroom to design, and manufacture parts and tooling to be used in practical applications. Students are expected to learn and apply ergonomics, ease of use, accuracy, detail, appearance, functionality, maintenance, performance and trouble shooting. Systems include computer aided design, 3D modeling, computational fluid dynamics, rapid prototyping and measurement as well as machine tools, welding, metal-forming and composite molding.

Manufacturing
Students learn safe, smart, skilled set-up and operation of machine tools, use of welding equipment and key manufacturing techniques involved in forming and shaping metal, composite lay-up and molding, and other aircraft construction processes and materials.

Project Management
Interns learn to organize, budget and schedule milestones for project completion and monitor progress as the project progresses.

Maintenance
Students learn to perform inspections and repairs mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as well as laws and regulations governing these activities. Students are given hands-on tasks, supervised by licensed mechanics including annual inspections, 100-hour inspections, oil changes, component repairs, inspection and, of course, the required paperwork.

Piloting
Under pre-arrangement, students have the opportunity to pursue FAA pilots rating and the certificates under the instruction of a certified flight instructor. Based on prior experience and credentials the student may seek recreational, private, and commercial licenses as well as instrument and flight instructor ratings.
(See photo of Polen intern with newly awarded commercial pilots certificate)

Career Development
Exposing students to many different fields in aviation, provides the opportunity to develop their specific interests and helps them become better informed to make career decisions. Relationships the students develop through the foundation and its instructors in many different fields help students make personal contacts useful to pursuing career opportunities.

Though aviation skills is the core curriculum, the intern program helps students develop universal skills that help prepare for success, regardless of the career direction they choose. Team-work, open mindedness, visualization, analytical and strategic thinking, confidence, problem resolution and tenacity are essential to success in any field.

Apply for internship
Contact Richard Keyt - rkeyt@polen-co.com

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