June 26, 2015
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Meet John McCrea: future aerospace engineer

Carrie L Martin, martin59 [at] llnl.gov, (925) 424-4715

Editor's Note: This is one in a series of articles highlighting the diverse group of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory summer students.


The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) student internship program is designed to allow students to engage in work-study employment opportunities in relevant science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and administrative fields during the summer academic break. This year, LLNL is proud to welcome more than 600 students from universities nationwide and around the world.  

Introducing John McCrea…

Full name: John Patrick McCrea

Hometown: Military "brat" (lived all over). If I had to pick somewhere, it would be Napa, California.

University attending/educational background: A senior (5th year) at Arizona State University

Major: Aerospace engineering (astronautics)

Minor: Military leadership

Graduation year: 2016

LLNL Directorate you are working in: Engineering


What interested you in pursuing a summer internship at the Laboratory?

This is my second year at LLNL. I initially chose to pursue an internship at the Lab because of the amazing, groundbreaking research taking place here. I am fascinated by the research pursuits of many of the groups on site through both word of mouth and my own research. I knew it would be a quality place to work, and I returned because it exceeded my expectations last summer.

What are you working on at the Laboratory?

I am working on additive manufacturing, specifically on three separate projects: 1) projection microstereolithography (PuSL) for 3D-printed hierarchical lattice structures for compression/tensile testing; 2) developing a small-volume, multi-material 3D-printing technique using microfluidic controls and 3) designing a new PuSL machine with variable magnification for smaller feature sizes, used for a variety of purposes, including printing targets for the National Ignition Facility.

What do you enjoy most about interning at the Laboratory?

The projects are amazing and very fun to work on, but the culture and people who work here can’t be beat anywhere else. There is such a team effort evident in the daily activities of the Lab, and with such a large intern population over the summer, the intern culture itself is unique and fun.

What have you learned (or are learning) that has made a difference to you?

Through my work and through a number of the seminars available through the Lab, I have learned of new research that has piqued my interest as possible future research endeavors and made me consider future work at the Lab.

Where do you see yourself after graduation? What is your dream job?

After graduation, I will commission as a 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, where I hope to be a developmental engineer and hopefully continue collaborations with the Lab on behalf of the military. After my military service, I see myself pursuing employment by Disney as an Imagineer before working into management. I’ve always enjoyed making people happy and working with people, so I think it’d be a perfect application of my personality and talents.


Who/what has inspired you to pursue an education and career in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) field?

I have always enjoyed wondering how and why things work the way they do, so engineering was a natural decision for me. Also, the Air Force highly seeks skilled engineers, so I knew my chances of a quality career in the Air Force could only be improved by a degree in engineering. Thus far, I have really enjoyed my decision.

What has been your biggest challenge to overcome?

My biggest challenge to overcome has probably been my tactfulness and clarity when communicating. I strive to ensure that the things I say to people are done in a manner that will clearly get my point across and yet do so in a way that resonates positively with them.

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment so far?

My greatest accomplishment so far was passing my honors thesis. As the culmination of multiple honors classes and contracts, to solidify my earning an honors diploma, it is an achievement I am proud of.

As a college student, what is the most important lesson you have learned?

The most important lesson I have learned as a college student is to stay on top of your tasks, be they work, homework, studying or extracurricular activities. So often people get bogged down after losing track of their obligations and fall behind or get far too stressed, so this has definitely been a valuable lesson for me.

What advice would you give a high school student?

To a high school student, I would say keep pushing forward and stay strong. To those entering college, I would definitely say work hard initially to establish a solid foundation. It is preferable to build a cushion rather than have to dig yourself out of a rut. Therefore, in many ways, the first semester of college is the most important one.

What do you like to do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?

I have a ton of hobbies, although I would say that watching TV and movies, hanging out with friends, exercising, piano and singing are my favorite. I also love to volunteer in the community in any way I can, but especially in efforts to reduce local, national and world hunger. So I focus on volunteering through such organizations.

What is next for you/what are you looking forward to?

I am looking forward to graduation and commissioning.


To learn more about summer internships and the Laboratory’s scholar programs, visit the scholars@llnl website.

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