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Infield Fly Ruler

June 5, 2011

Caroline Hilton knows what it takes to make things taking flight.

Before a broken arm forced her to redshirt the 2011 season, the former Vidalia High School standout had been one of Georgia Tech’s major power threats off the bench as a sophomore.

Hilton is as adept at the mechanics of flight in the classroom, where she is an Aerospace Engineering Major, who has expressed a goal of one day working for NASA.

This summer, she’s trading rockets and space travel for helicopters and the military, interning in the Philadelphia offices of aircraft manufacturer Boeing.

Sting Daily had the opportunity to talk with Hilton following her first day of work. She spoke about what her responsibilities will be, some of the machines for which she’s responsible and how she and some of her softball sisters plan to test just how much brotherly love there is in the City of Brotherly Love.

STING DAILY: Most of your teammates and fellow Georgia Tech students are taking it easy now that summer’s here. You’re not. Talk about how you’re spending your summer.

Caroline Hilton: I’m taking it easy right now. I just got off work. It’s Friday afternoon. I’m not working anymore (laughs). But I’m doing the internship with Boeing, here in Philadelphia. Here in Philadelphia, they build the V-22 and the H-47 helicopters and I’m working in the quality department of the V-22.

SD: What are some of your daily responsibilities?

CH: The V-22 is the helicopter/plane that confuses a lot of people. It’s flown by the Marines and the reason that it is so strange is because it provides vertical lift and it can also fly horizontally. I work in the quality department and so my main job this summer is going to be taking all the quality functions from the factory where the V22 is manufactured and stream-lining all those functions into one process.

Actually, I just had my first day today, but Boeing puts a big emphasis on first-time quality, meaning that when a helicopter comes off the line, they don’t want to have to change anything before they deliver it to the customer. So there are a lot of quality checks that go into that. Specific parts of the aircraft have to be checked. The processes that go into checking the quality of the aircraft are, obviously, very complicated and so, my main function is going to be to streamline all of these processes into one data base so that everything can be looked at the same time.

SD: Who are some of the customers we’re talking about?

CH: Bell Helicopters that are made at the Philadelphia facility are for military purposes. So they’re not just made for the United States. There are like 17 countries that fly the Chinook.

SD: You’ve expressed a desire to one day work for NASA. Will this help that pursuit?

CH: I’m just excited about the internship with Boeing because it’s like getting my foot in the door at an aerospace company. Obviously, helicopters are not my ultimate career goal but it’s a right step along the away. Ultimately, I would like to work for NASA and work in space systems and mainly in launch vehicles.

SD: How did the internship come about?

CH: I’m enrolled in the career-services program at Georgia Tech and they let us know when internships come up that we can read the job description for. It came across the main system. I applied on line, did a phone interview and they let me know that I had it.

SD: What was it like getting the acceptance call from Boeing?

CH: They actually called during a game and so one of our managers left me a voicemail saying that I’d gotten the job. So, obviously, I got their voicemail once I got back on the bus and it was a pretty cool moment, to get that voicemail and hear that part of your dream is coming true.

SD: Was it fun putting a giant military contractor on hold while you finished your softball season?

CH: (laughs) Actually, I had to set up a virtual start date depending on when we lost in the NCAA Tournament was going to depend on when I showed up for work.

SD: How have you adapted to living in Philadelphia?

CH: In July, when the Braves come up on the 8th, 9th, and 10th, some of my teammates are going to come up and we’re going to go to the Braves-Phillies series, in our Braves shirts. I’ll just go ahead and tell this story, we were at a pizza place, the Phillies were playing the [Washington] Nationals earlier in the week and Jayson Werth came up to bat and everyone in the restaurant started booing. I was like, ‘These people are definitely crazy sports fans, way more so than Atlanta.’ So it will be interesting to go to a game and be the enemy.

SD: Will having gone through the Georgia Tech-Georgia rivalry will help you during that series?

CH: I hope so (laughs).

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