Penn State Fayette leads student to sky-high opportunities

August 21, 2015

From childhood in the small mountain town of Meyersdale, Pennsylvania, Philip Burt had a love for airplanes and spacecraft. But his passion for the field morphed into a career choice by the age of 14, when he visited Florida to see a space shuttle launch.

“From that point forward, I knew I wanted to be an aerospace engineer and do something in the aircraft or spacecraft industry,” said Burt.

Now a senior aerospace engineering major at Penn State, Burt is living his dream through a summer internship at Esterline Defense Technologies, where he is helping to design, develop and produce decoy flares that are used by pilots when they are being tracked or pursued by an enemy missile.

“The flares’ job is to fly away from the aircraft while mimicking the characteristics of the aircraft’s engine so that the missile confuses the flare for the aircraft and follows the flare instead, effectively saving the aircraft and potential lives on board,” said Burt, who takes pride in his internship, which is located in Camden, Ark.

Though he is now enrolled at Penn State’s University Park campus, Burt actually began his college career at Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus, where he took general electives and introductory courses for the aerospace engineering major. He was able to do this preparatory work at the Fayette campus through the University’s 2+2 Plan, which allows students to begin the first two years of any of Penn State’s 160-plus majors at any Commonwealth campus and then complete the degree requirements at University Park or another campus.

“As a 2+2 student, I got to experience the best of both worlds,” said Burt, who moved to the University’s main campus in his junior year.

He explained that the "friendly” small-town atmosphere of the Fayette campus allowed him to excel by embracing the college environment gradually. “The faculty there was excellent,” he said, “in that they were always available to help any time I had a question or had difficulty on homework and my courses in general.”

Burt said some of his best memories of the Fayette campus are from serving as the Roaring Lion mascot.

“It was truly my favorite activity and memory as a student while I was there," said Burt. "Most importantly, I now look back and realize that, had I not gone to Penn State Fayette, I would never have had such a wonderful and life-changing opportunity.

“That is my favorite reason why I went to Fayette; I got to experience opportunities there that I never would have had if I would have started at University Park. If I had to do it all over again, Penn State Fayette would still be my No. 1 choice of places to start my college career.”

Last Updated September 01, 2015