What I Did on My Summer Vacation - Internships

Engineering careers only begin in classrooms and labs. Every day in the real world it is put to work in so many different forms. Many College of Engineering students interned with companies across the country, building upon their expertise and contributing to diverse projects. Here’s what a few of your peers shared about what they were doing over their summer break:

Where did you intern, and what was your role?

Mo Walton, senior majoring in Mechanical Engineering - Havis, Inc. is currently exploring options for a machine vision system to help meet and improve its quality control standards. My role is to investigate the production and inspection process, then design a solution to inspect parts, and also present a cost/benefit analysis to the company.

Dominic Callovini, senior majoring in Electrical and Computer Engineering - I work in the maintenance department at US Steel's Edgar Thomson Works, but more specifically I work with the reliability centered maintenance group. While putting together weekly schedules for maintenance to be done, we constantly ask ourselves, "how can we make this piece of equipment last longer and function more reliably?" My department is constantly taking on projects and thinking of new ways to increase the lifespan of our equipment and decrease the production cost.

Kyle O’Connell, senior majoring in Bioengineering - The focus of my role is to gain the experiences of both a superintendent, and a project engineer/project manager on a construction site. I spend about half of my time in the field at the Princeton University Lewis Center for the Arts which we are actively building, and the other half in an old Princeton-style home that was converted to an office. In the field, I work mainly as an MEP superintendent with the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing sub-contractors and communicate the necessary tasks directly with the trade foremen. While working in the office as an engineer, I get the important behind the scenes look at the construction process which involves budgeting, change order requests, analyzing RFI’s, and submitting/uploading documents to Princeton’s and Turner’s websites.

Matthew Hayes, senior majoring in Mechanical Engineering - Since I’m studying Mechanical Engineering at Temple University my internship experience is focused on the mechanical aspect of buildings. These duties include site surveys, AutoCAD and Revit Markups, load calculations, COMChecks, HVAC product research, and design work.

How did you get the position?

Callovini - I am originally from Pittsburgh, so when I was looking for internships this one popped up and really peaked my interest. Working in a steel mill seemed rather intriguing at the time too. One solid interview later and I had the job. 

O’Connell - I got the position by connecting with a Temple alum who currently works as an engineer for Turner Construction. I sent him my resume and applied through Turner’s website; within the next few days, human resources gave me a call back.

Hayes - Upon researching engineering in the Philadelphia area for a summer internship opportunity, I came across Brinjac Engineering. I submitted my cover letter and resume to Brinjac’s HR department.  

How will this position help with your studies?

Walton - Since mechanical engineering can cover such a wide range of sub-disciplines, working in such a hands on role has helped me to determine what particular branch of mechanics I would like to study, making it easier to decide which electives would be most beneficial.

Hayes - The foundation of the mathematical and scientific methods used in HVAC system’s design is rooted in Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics. These two courses have helped me understand the processes and calculations involved within this position out of all my courses of study. This position has helped further my understanding of these subjects because of the hands on experiences and calculations involved in HVAC design.

O’Connell - This position helps with my studies by keeping me familiar with structural analysis and statics, which was learned in Mechanics for Bioengineers 1, and is utilized while I am actively scanning structural drawings.  My on-site experience with geothermal loops, heat pumps, and air handling units has supplemented my knowledge of thermodynamics, since I can now understand the occurring heat transfer processes along with the mechanical components.

How does an internship contribute to the engineering program?

Walton - Our program has done very well at providing students with the necessary communication and problem solving based courses to be successful in real-world applications. This makes it easier to know what information is important to master now, and what to reference later.

Hayes - I have learned a great deal of engineering and professional experience. Gaining hands on experience can also help me to understand concepts and ideas better in the classroom that I may have struggled to grasp in the past.

How will this experience help you reach your professional goals?

Callovini - I learned all about the hundreds of different OSHA and US Steel safety standards I need to abide by daily. Implementing these laws so early is a huge advantage. Unlike school or any other job I've had, I was forced into starting a habit of being somewhere at 6:30 AM every day. Not only did I have to be there so early every day, I trained myself to focus for a whole 9 hours following that. It might seem like a very small thing but adjusting my body to this schedule was completely new to me. The biggest thing to help me professionally is making a good enough impression to get asked to come back for another internship!!

O’Connell - The most important skill learned for my professional goals are communication skills. Communication skills are absolutely key for a successful engineer to get their designs or ideas across. I am also working on a presentation for the Vice President of the NJ business unit on how to make Turner a better builder through the use of various modeling software for owner presentations and field use.

Hayes - Reaching my professional goals isn’t going to happen overnight. Interning at Brinjac Engineering has been an eye opening experience for me in that there is an immense amount of material to learn and experience in this field of Mechanical Engineering. The employees here at Brinjac go about their work with class and professionalism which has helped me to grow as a person and engineer.

What will you take with you for the next step in your career?

Callovini - Even though I'm an Electrical Engineer by education, I touched on many other disciplines in engineering. I worked with large water treatment systems, where I had to learn the mechanics behind all of the different piping, pumps, and valves in each system and what they all do. Environmental Engineering played a large role to as to how we process and clean all of our water and air. I had the privilege of learning several types of engineering, which is not something that school or many jobs would have me do.

Walton - Many people over look a lot of companies if they don’t recognize them, but a huge driver of job growth and opportunities are in small business. There are big opportunities in small business, especially when the potential “small” business you could work for is more of a mid-size company on the verge of big things. Never overlook something because they’re not the mega company you hear about every day.

Hayes - It has been a valuable experience interning at Brinjac. The hands on knowledge and calculation/design methods that I’ve learned I’ll take with me for the rest of my career. This internship experience has taught me valuable problem solving and communication skills that’ll make me more valuable for a future employer as well.

 

--Marco Cerino