Haysville native melds passions building jet engines



MIDDLETON, Conn. — Jacob Hemmerlein is parlaying his interest in aviation and engineering into a career.

The 23-year-old Haysville native is in Connecticut working for Pratt & Whitney, a United Technologies aerospace company, as an assembly technician mechanic.

“I basically build commercial jet engines,” he said.

He makes it sound so basic, but it’s not.

Every day, Jacob goes in to Pratt & Whitney in the afternoon; he works second shift. He and a crew are assigned a specific kind of engine They get updates on anything they need to know from previous shifts gather their supplies, and pull up a computer program that has their instructions. And then they’re off to work.

“We pretty much go from the beginning to the end of putting together the main parts of the engine, then the tubes and wiring,” Jacob said. “It’s a full day, typical day.”

The engines are used in commercial airplanes, for airlines.

Jacob, son of Brian and Tammy Hemmerlein, has been in Connecticut since August. He graduated from Purdue University in December 2017 with a degree in aeronautical engineering technology. “It was a mix of like maintenance and engineering and technician work,” he said. The degree allowed him to receive federal certification for doing maintenance on airplanes.

Jacob’s interest in aviation started with his love for history, which he got from his father.

“I really enjoy history, especially World War II era history,” Jacob said. “My dad shared with me his interest in WWII-era airplanes and such.”

As he got older, he decided to study aviation and aviation history. He interned at the Huntingburg Airport when he was a senior at Northeast Dubois High School.

“And that solidified it more for me,” Jacob said.

Jacob Hemmerlein graduated from Purdue University in December 2017 with a degree in aeronautical engineering technology. Photo courtesy Tammy Hemmerlein

At the airport, he created 3D models of buildings of the airport, which show up on Google Earth. He learned about modeling while in school, through his Project Lead the Way curriculum.

“So if pilots wanted to come in and see exactly where the building was before they flew in, and see what it looked like from the outside, they could do that through Google Earth,” Jacob said.

He returned to the airport as a junior in college for another internship.

“It was more hands-on,” he said, “like airfield operations, maintaining the grounds. I would greet customers to help with parking the planes or refueling. It was a lot more face-to-face contact with pilots and customers.”

And now, in his current job, he works with a crew of people. And he is applying what he learned in school and his internships.

“In school, you’re messing with the turbine engines they have in the labs. Once you mess with one turbine engine, it’s kind of the same for any other turbine engine,” he said. “Some parts may change, but it all has the same core distinction and characteristics.”

He knows that this is the first step in his career. And he is excited about what will come in the future.

“I’ve always wanted to do engineering. This is a little bit different than what I originally planned. So it’s more about the experience at this point,” he said. “The mechanics and assembly side is what I expected. The work environment, the flow is what you can’t predict.”

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