Saturday, October 14, 2006


Engineering Internships

While you may think I left engineering behind when I started law school, the truth is I actually use my engineering skills more than my legal skills when doing patent work. Therefore, seeing as how important it is, I thought it would be appropriate to touch on some of my experiences in engineering.

I worked as an intern for two different companies during the summers before my junior and senior years of undergrad. I didn't enjoy either of these internships (hence why I'm in graduate school), but it was for different reasons.

The first summer was more of an office job, working in a cubicle doing work with computers. Basically, I spent most of my time constructing client demonstration kits using automation electronics, such as programmable logic controllers (PLC), human-machine interface (HMI) displays, and input-output (I/O). Most of these kits would include on of each of the three listed components, that I would have to wire and program to be "flashy" in an attempt to impress the client. Usually, this involved writing ladder logic programs to make the lights of the I/O flash in patterns, and programming the HMI to allow the user to select different flashing patterns. This internship was very boring because I constantly found myself without a project to work on. However, this job did pay more than the other.

The second summer was more hands-on, working in lab building and testing things. Basically, I spent most of my time actually constructing and testing automation electronics, such as HMI assemblies, LED matrix displays, and water densification systems (for robots). The difficulty in this job was the learning curve, considering I had never constructed any of these products before. After a few weeks I had the hang of constructing most of the devices the lab produced. Testing for most of the devices was fairly simple: make sure each buttom of an HMI assembly works, make sure each LED of a display works, etc. This internship was not boring because there was always a project to do when one was completed. However, the process of building and testing these devices was incredibly repetitive. This job also paid much less than the other job (close to minimum wage).

Those were my two experiences with engineering internships. They are not the most glamorous stories, and you may understand why I decided to go to law school - both of these experiences definately influenced my decision. However, don't let this discourage you, because I have friends who have had amazing experiences with their internships, most of which are now working with those companies they interned for. Just remember - make sure you enjoy what you're doing. This summer I finally found work I enjoyed doing, which puts me at ease as I proceed towards "the real world."

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