IPD Update

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Today in TE 211 we all received our groups and projects that we will work on for the next year. I was lucky and got my first choice for my project. I’ll be working for Dresser-Rand, along with five other mechanical engineering majors and one business supply chain management major. Our project is focused on designing a system that that will rotate the trailing edge of a diaphragm vane to change the flow characteristics of the gas stream operating inside of a compressor. While I myself am not 100% sure what this means, I’m sure it will all be explained in the future. We are tasked with doing this 1. without requiring an increase in the axial space required for the diaphragm, 2. developing a way to seal the system so gas won’t leak, and 3. ensure our solution will last the lifetime of the compressor (5-20 years). This is a tall order but I believe my group and I will be able to come up with something good. In the past, Dresser-Rand was very adamant about the IPD groups visiting their R&D office in upstate New York which apparently is very helpful in how groups have organized their approach to coming up with a solution. Personally, I’m very interested in turbines and compressors and how they work. They are crucial components in most energy production methods. To work on something like this that is so important in how we live would be very rewarding and I’m looking forward with what we will come up with.

Applying to Jobs

As a second semester senior I have some free credits to pursue classes and topics that I think are interesting. I am taking a 300 level sociology class about cyberspace. I LOVE IT! The course load for mechanical engineering is unsurprisingly very ordered and directed. There is little room for discussion and exploration of softer topics. This semester I have room to take classes with a more philosophical approach.

I’m taking this sociology class because I could see myself pursuing research on the impact of the technology changes. Within the first day we were talking about things relevant to my life.

Recently I was offered a job without ever having met someone from the other end of the company. I responded about the job on a forum from the class. This is a sample of the kind of thinking we are encouraged to do.

“It is sometimes scary how connected life can be. An hour ago I was offered a job from the company [company redacted], yet I have never met or interacted with someone in the company… excepting the job offer phone call with a man named ***. I found the job through LUCIE and emailed the company with my resume and name. I assume that they reviewed my resume and that I met some kind of standards for being offered an interview because I was then emailed an invitation to begin the interview process.

I never once saw a human on the other end of this process, it was completely automated. The first round was a series of behavioral interview questions that flashed on the screen and then I was given two and a half minutes to respond. This was followed by two multiple choice tests. The first was a personality test and the second was a logic test. Taking an important test on a laptop without much warning of the circumstance is intimidating. The last section of this test was a short timed essay. This first round lasted about an hour, and I finished not really knowing what I had just competed. I should mention that I was filmed by my webcam throughout this process.

Two days later I was emailed about the next round of the interview. After being offered the job, I now know I passed the first round, but this wasn’t very clear at the time. This round was a 40 minute process of watching a video about the company and synthesizing the information to answer three related short answer questions. I submitted this and was unsure whether I would ever hear directly from the company.

This brings me to today— I was just offered a job. This phone call is the first human interaction I have had with the company. *** assured me that many people had seen my interview and seemed anxious to tell me that there were in fact people that worked for the company.

I think that this may be the future of job applications for recent college grads. Relating back to the questions asked in this prompt it was important that I portray myself in a professional context, which is how I would need to act in a job interview. I have yet to meet anyone from the company, but I will keep everyone posted if I do.”

Integrated Product Development (TE 211)

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This semester, along with pretty much every other MechE, I am taking TE 211, or as it is more commonly called, IPD (Integrated Product Development). Its probably the most unique class in the curriculum. The way it works is that real companies come to Lehigh with specific R&D type projects that the students apply for. There is a large multidisciplinary student body that is split into small groups of six, with each group consisting of varying engineering, business, and other majors. These groups are given full control in completing the tasks handed to them. There is a wide variety of projects to choose from. The deliverables each company are seeking are different for each project. Some are focused on prototype development, creating a physical model with an accompanying business/financial model. Others might be looking for a computer simulation for some experimental process with logistical models. Another might be looking for a theoretical improvement to a manufacturing process along with cost/benefit analysis. All together I believe there are over 20 unique projects to choose from.

 

What really surprised me was that this is a real-life work experience. Students are given real budgets that they are free to use how they think is most appropriate. As students we all sign a contract at the beginning of the course that says that the company controls all the rights to the work we do. We also aren’t allowed to talk about proprietary information that the company gives us if they choose to do so. Before, I was under the impression that the class was more of a simulation than anything else but I now realize it really is a lot of responsibility. I personally applied for projects from Aesculap, Dresser-Rand, a local start-up, and a bioengineering research project here at Lehigh. Aesculap is a company that designs surgical instruments. Dresser-Rand designs and manufactures turbines and compressors for the oil and gas industry. The local start up is looking to design a unique bicycle-pedal clip. And the bioengineering research project is focused on microfluidic controls. Groups are supposed to be evenly balanced by major, gender, and even GPA. I wont know what group or project I will be assigned until tomorrow so I will be sure to update in the near future. I’ll also write more about the structure of the class and the topics covered in lecture so stay tuned!

Hunting for Internships

I have been very determined that past few months trying to secure myself an internship for this upcoming summer and I finally have something to show for my efforts. After sending out quite a few applications to companies in various industries I finally got some interviews secured. Applying for internships through the LUCIE website is much better than going through a specific company’s website. Both of the interviews I have came from a listing on the LUCIE site. I will be interviewing on campus next Monday morning for Voith Hydro Power. That same afternoon I have a phone interview with DuPont. I’m excited and very interested in both and I think that I really couldn’t go wrong with either one if I am accepted. Voith is a German mechanical engineering company and their facility in York, PA designs, tests, and manufactures turbines for hydroelectric plants…..very cool. DuPont, the world famous chemical company, is looking for an intern for the mechanical systems division at their Wilmington, DE headquarters. I’m very nervous for both since I’ve never interviewed for anything like this before but I’m just hoping for the best. Hopefully, I can give an update with good news in the coming weeks.

Job Searching

In a recent conversation with a graduate from Franklin and Marshall she asked what I was up to, and I told her I was trying to manage school and applying to jobs. I was surprised by her response that she didn’t look for a job until post graduation. Lehigh’s culture is to start searching for a job the minute you arrive on campus. It is comforting that Lehigh grads always seem to find jobs. The career fair was back in September and many people already have offers for next year.

After saying that I was looking for a job, my friend inquired what kind of job I was looking for. Which is a question that I do not have a concrete answer to. I know I want to utilize my engineering degree but beyond that I am not currently following a passion. This friend suggest angel.co to me— a way to find start up businesses looking for employees. Lehigh’s job board LUCIE is definitely powerful but it is centered on Pennsylvania and New York based jobs. I feel like I have a lot more flexibility in where I want to be after college.

I think that I have said this before, but it’s worth reiterating your best resources are the people who are going through the same processes you are or who have recently done the same thing.

Senior Projects

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Being a senior I’m involved in a lot of group projects. Integrated product development is what is taking most of my attention now. Today, I went with a group member to Smooth On. For the project we need to cast a 3d printed object. I had called a technician earlier in the week and they had suggested making a trip to the store front for hands on help.

It was well worth it. We were stepped through where to best make the pour spots and where to put seam lines. Our next step is actually setting up the molds, which I will upload pictures.

The technician was really helpful and got us set up with the materials we will need. We bought two starter tests of rubber to create the molds and two starter sets plastic to create the mold. As well we were set up with dye to color the plastic that is molded.

Semester Scheduling

So registration for next semester is coming up soon and I think next semester is going to be my worst scheduled semester.  It’s not because I’ll have so many gaps or that the professors teaching are bad.  It’s just that I can’t fit classes that I want to take and the courses I have to take I heard are really a pain, such as Integrated Product Development and Mechanical Elements.  These classes are always taken Junior year, but I always like to do things differently and change my schedule up so that it can be different. Why? Simple- because I can and I like to exploit my opportunities by finding classes I really want to take and taking them, instead.

So here’s my situation, I wanted to take this 300 level class called Gas Dynamics next semester because one of my favorite professors, Professor Oztekin, is going to be teaching it and I currently have him for Fluid Mechanics right now.  Now Fluids is a pretty tough class, don’t get me wrong, but Professor Oztekin makes it seem SO simple when he’s teaching it and that’s an ability I rarely see out of professors.  So that’s why I want to take that class, but its conflicting with a recitation for Systems, a class we HAVE to take!  Now most people will tell you to take it when you’re supposed to take it, but me always deviating from the schedule, I feel like skipping it and taking it in the fall.  I’m not 100% set on this, but that’s what my mind is telling me to do.  So hopefully I can figure something out because there are some other conflicting classes that go along with my schedule as well.