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.
Aircraft / Aerodynamic
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.
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
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
Interns learn to organize, budget and schedule milestones
for project completion and monitor progress as the project
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.
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
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 -
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