Academy cadet works with global aerospace company on UAV research project


A senior cadet at the Air Force Academy spent five weeks this summer working with Lockheed Martin researchers to improve the Air Force’s fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles.


Cadet 1st Class Michael Triner researched how aircraft might be better protected from enemy weapons and how UAVs might work better in groups.


Lockheed Martin official Gary Williams supervised Triner’s research on the project, which included a statistical review of results from previous studies.


“While an internship of five weeks can’t be expected to result in a major technical breakthrough, it was a great opportunity for us to obtain valuable insights from a very bright future officer and leader and build a stronger partnership between the military and industry,” Williams said. “That value transcends and single technical contribution.”


Triner spent most of his time at the Lockheed Martin Center for Innovation in Suffolk, Virginia, with company researchers, but was also given a tour of a Lockheed Martin radar production facility in Moorestown, New Jersey, and the Sikorsky helicopter production facility in Stratford, Connecticut.


“We hope he returns to the Air Force Academy with a greater appreciation of the complex systems employed the U.S. military and the dedication and commitment of the people producing those systems,” Williams said.  

Triner said his research is another step toward defending the U.S.’s defense capabilities.


“My analysis was important because it laid a foundation to build on and implement higher fidelity tests and simulation,” he said.


Beyond the project, Triner appreciated getting a better grasp of how large corporations work.


“I learned about the day-to-day operations and interactions that happen in big companies like Lockheed Martin,” he said. “As far as the future of the UAV program, Lockheed Martin is doing a lot of interesting tests. There’s definitely a bright future for unmanned aircraft and various other systems.”





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