By Hannah Wilk '16
Last year, we had our first two alumni, both from the Class of '13, go to work at SpaceX. You heard from Andrew Heine a week ago, and now you'll hear about Anton Frolenkov, who spent last summer there before moving on to graduate school.
How should he spend his last summer before starting his Master's at the University of Michigan in Electrical Engineering? Anton felt that an internship with SpaceX would be an amazing technical experience. Employed at the company's new launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc, CA, Anton spent last summer designing and testing telemetry distribution links between SpaceX and various mission partners like the Air Force.
Verifying this infrastructure required tests involving engineers from different groups, each with their own unique work styles. In coordinating these tests, Anton found that he drew from skills he had honed as project manager of the Raytheon SCOPE team during his final year at Olin. Working on a team of four students, the Raytheon team continued a multi-year project investigating the superposition of radar and communication waveforms. Working with past team members, vendors and the Raytheon engineers all helped prepare Anton with skills he would later use during his summer at SpaceX.
While he was at Olin, Frolenkov worked on many things. He periodically operated sound design and mixing for FWOP (Olin's theater group) as well as the PowerChords. In addition to these extracurriculars, he put a lot of time into research with Professor Jose Oscar Mur-Miranda on the topic of wireless power transfer. In addition and like all Olin students, Anton worked on many class projects, constantly looking for new learning opportunities and challenging himself both academically and socially.
When working for a large company like SpaceX, the communication skills he picked up through all these Olin activities have certainly come in handy. In particular, Anton helped bridge the gap between the Air Force and a fast-paced commercial launch provider by working hard on these personal as well as professional relationships. It was at Olin that Anton learned how getting to know a colleague at a deeper level helped achieve a stronger connection and better rapport in the long run.
Starting next month, Anton will take a break from his Master's and work as a co-op engineer at Planetary Resources, developing and implementing asteroid mining. Anton specifically will be developing communication avionics for the spacecraft, and this co-op assignment will last until the end of the calendar year. Anton plans to complete his Master's a year from now.
Advice for current students? As an Electrical and Computer Engineer (ECE), Anton recommends any and all of Brad Minch's classes. He also recommends that students take advantage of Olin's hands-on learning approach to the fullest. Using MAD VLSI as an example, he has observed at University of Michigan that most people don't get to design and make their own chips until their Ph.D candidacies. At Olin, people design their own chips throughout their undergrad experience!
Check out this video which summarizes the SpaceX flight Anton worked on last summer. It features some cool shots from cameras he helped to set up, and he is most excited that he knows almost everyone on the voice nets!