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Florida Poly students love playing 'bad guys' at Lakeland aerospace company Draken International

Posted at 3:03 AM, Aug 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-21 07:39:57-04

LAKELAND, Fla. — Kat Newell loves being a “bad guy” for a good cause.

The Florida Polytechnic University senior is an intern with Lakeland’s Draken International, a private “adversary air service” company.

“Draken plays the role of the bad guy," said Newell. "When the Air Force is doing their training, they need someone to train against.”

Think “Top Gun” only with Draken sparring against Maverick.

Kat does not fly or tinker with planes. She is involved in business logistics. Her father was in aviation, so her passion and interest has always been there. 

“I’m honored to have this role and be trusted with it,” Newell says.

Eleven Florida Poly students are involved with Draken, which filled a massive hangar with fighter jets at Lakeland Linder International Airport.

There are currently more open tech jobs in the U.S. than people to fill them. That is good news for high school students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs.

Both Florida Poly and Draken are looking for up-and-coming STEM-interested students.

Draken’s John Adams says people interested in aerospace jobs should be open-thinkers first and foremost, and not be daunted by all the tech aspects of the job.

“Obviously, engineering is applicable to aerospace,” Adams says. “But what’s really applicable is a desire to solve problems and come up with innovative solutions.”

Even more important is passion, says Matt Bohm, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Florida Poly.

“If you want to be successful anywhere in life, you have to have a lot of passion,” says Bohm. “Our students are always tinkering with something.”

For more information on Draken International, visit

Florida Polytechnic University begins its fall semester classes on Wednesday, August 22. The university currently offers six baccalaureate programs, two master's programs and 19 areas of concentration. For more information, visit