Counts, who just started her internship last week, said watching the speed of the cars is a "little terrifying," but she is looking forward to working on the engines.
"You are part of a team when you are here," Counts said. "It's more like a family than anything else."
Brian Tocci, 20, of Jupiter, a junior aerospace engineering major, has interned and volunteered with Larsen for more than a year. He has started to work at the company part time and may be hired full time when he graduates in 2014, Chris Larsen said.
Tocci said he's torn apart engines, made fuel lines, wired the cars — "anything and everything, I've done."
"You never know what you are going to do. I'll dig ditches for a sprinkler system one day and put together an engine the next," he said.
Jim Kimmel, 20, of Syracuse, N.Y., an aerospace engineering major, heads up the team of students testing biofuel on a jet engine at the shop. He also previously interned with the Larsens. He learned about everything from changing brakes to overhauling engines.
"It helps you understand engineering more and design things better," Kimmel said.
Nate Elder, 20, of Oshkosh, Wis., an aerospace engineering junior, first met the Larsens and saw the jet dragster at an air show when he was 10 years old. He loved how fast the cars race and part of his decision to come to Embry-Riddle was because he wanted to intern at Larsens. He hopes to work with General Electric or Boeing on jet engines when he graduates.
"One of the best things is to leave here and be dirty (from the grease) and know you actually worked on something and made it run again," Elder said.
On Reality TV
Larsen Motorsports has started a reality-type show online called "Playing With Fire."
Viewers can get an inside look of the jet dragsters in action and the lives of the drivers and crew and day-to-day operations. Filming was done inside the company's research and development center in Daytona Beach, including work being done by student interns and student volunteers from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.