For the past 2 days, I finally cashed in my CAD work time for some machine shop time! I love breaking and building new things, the smell of scorched wood, and the on-the-edge feeling that comes with using dangerous tools.
It’s the best part of being an engineer.
This past month, I’ve gained a tremendous insight into the life of a mechanical product designer. The company I worked for is called Goddard Technologies, Inc. (GTI). They’re the reason Segway and RockBand are known names, but they’ve done a variety of work outside of consumer products. They seamlessly combine engineering, industrial design, consulting, and rapid development with a great team personality to boot. Working with them has been a privilege. In such a demanding industry, having a cohesive (humorous) dynamic around the office helps mitigate the stress that comes with meeting deadlines.
Within my first week, I was handed a project and told, “Go.” Later, I used CAD to make a few parts and ran finite element analysis (FEA) on them to simulate how they’d behave under physical conditions. Then, I wrote up a report on my findings and my supervisor, Orlando, checked over it before sending it out to a client. I also got to brainstorm with the team, sketch some ideas, and hack an experimental setup. (Basically, the part wouldn’t fit into a tool we had in the shop, so Orlando helped me make an attachment that would solve the problem while not altering the results.)
Being an MIT graduate, Orlando told me he wanted to give the externship an MIT-spin. Ever heard the saying, “drinking from a fire hose”? We’re notorious for that. But, he was a great mentor, leading me through any situation I began to falter on. The first week’s training helped me when Orlando got pulled off-site my third week, leaving me to practice skills I’d recently learned without his supervision.
I’m excited to return back to MIT with an added perspective for how to actually make things for shop use, manufacture, or production. It will definitely aid as I undertake project-based classes like Product Design and D-Lab: Energy. Plus, it’ll be cool to see products at Target or on commercials, and know some people behind them.