Control Lab

 

In this lab, my lab partner and I wrote a ladder logic code to control this simulation robot pick and place four blocks. The robot is pneumatic so it was fun to turn it on and off and watch it go through the cycle. The ladder logic code was more simple than we had anticipated.

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Student Research on Campus

Lehigh has so many opportunities to explore academics and to get involved with professors. Many professors have student research positions and to get involved all you have to do is ask. Today in the Steps atrium there was a show case of the projects done last semester. I stopped by this after noon to vote for a friends in the people’s choice award and see the posters.

 

Controls Lab

As I have continued towards my mechanical engineering degree the projects and labs have been progressively more interesting. My final lab is control systems based, which is really what it sounds like. Taking a system (ie a simplified helicopter, simplified HVAC system plus others) and using controllers to stabilize them. My most recent lab was a simulation of a helicopter. It was a a fan attached to an arm that would raise when the fan had voltage applied.

It was a fun lab. A lot of the lab was spent playing with the voltage of the fan. The point of the lab was to take the output from the system and determine the transfer function of the system. In controls engineering the transfer function is used to design a controller that will output the desired response. The parameters for the controller are usually a rise time of the system or a limited overshoot of the system.

Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take a video of the fan flying, but below is a screenshot of the input voltage and the response of the fan. fanresponse

Broughal Engineering Day

Every year in the Spring semester the Rossin Junior Fellows put together a three hour demo of the kind of thinking and jobs that engineers have. It’s a way for Lehigh engineers to try and inspire the kids in the surrounding area to pursue engineering, so every year the eighth graders at Broughal come to Packard Auditorium for pizza and some critical thinking. It’s a fun form of community service.

One of the activities was building a rollercoaster sized for a marble. The materials were foam tubing insulation sliced in half and tape. We watched a short clip on the physics behind rollercoasters, and the kids cheered when they imagined some day working for Disney. The intention of the activity was to show that although an engineers job may be very technical, it’s also cool.

The point of the day is all about the kids so it was fun to see what they created. My team of four was all about making the marble do a complete loop. As the ten minute mark came our team realized we had the same design as every other team and wanted to switch it up.

I stepped in and suggested wrapping the the insulation around the columns of Packard Auditorium. After the event finished a friend commented that I had more fun than the kids did, which was likely.

Behavioral Interviews

 

As I am still in the process of interviewing for a job post grad, I thought I would share my favorite behavioral question.

“When have you encountered a struggle and what did you do to remedy the situation” or something along the lines of a question like that. This question is pretty much the storyline of my life. When have I not gotten myself into a sticky situation and had to figure it out.

My favorite example, however happened two summers ago. My mom is from Australia and we were visiting my grandparents in Point Lonsdale. It was technically winter there but it never really got down below 50 degrees. I enjoyed jogging the streets as they live in a small beach town. Halfway through a run it started hailing—which is very rare and of course happened in the middle of my run. I was also lost, which isn’t surprising because I have a terrible sense of direction.

But that was my predicament, lost in a hailstorm in another country. I hid under trees and tried to find geographical references I recognized, but eventually realized I was in uncharted territory and had no idea when the last time I turned left or right was.

I had to resort to flagging down a car. I was lucky and fortunate that I managed to find a lady very sympathetic to my situation. She dropped me off at the grocery store just down the block from my grandparents and I made it home.

What I try to exemplify in the telling of this story is that I have a strong sense of adventure and curiosity, but I also consider myself resourceful in times of need.

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.”

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.