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Kyle Chappell (June 2009 - January 2010)

Name: Kyle Chappell

School: Missouri University of Science and Technology

Major: Computer Engineering

Co-op period: June 2009 - January 2010

Current school/company and what you do:
I am a Computer Engineering student at Missouri S&T and will have two semesters left
after my Co-op at Hunter.

Current Location:
When my co-op is over I will return to Rolla to complete my degree.

What was the interview process like?

I was contacted over the phone by Pat Hutsler from Human Resources who had found my information on MinerJobs, Missouri S&T’s online recruiting system. He provided me with some information about Hunter and asked me to come in for an interview on location. I interviewed with Pat, took a version of the Wonderlic Test, and interviewed with Dave Voeller from Engineering (who eventually became my supervisor). No part of this process was too overwhelming. Pat called me shortly after the interview with the offer.

What did you do?
I got the opportunity to work on many different projects while at Hunter. I researched and developed a new plan for Hunter’s environmental test chamber that required writing a LabVIEW program that made setting up these tests easier. It also provided a better solution to collecting temperature and humidity data from the chamber. Another task involved programming a cycle tester for a piece of mechanical equipment in C++. The program repeatedly moved arms on a machine in a sequence of directions while carrying a heavy weight to test machine’s integrity. For another project, I created an animation in Excel based on some equations and alignment data collected using a Hunter alignment system representing Dave’s car. This is only a small listing of some of my more significant tasks. This list does not even begin to illustrate all of the valuable things I learned while at Hunter.

Would you do it again?

What did you like?
I really liked the variety of tasks that I got to work on. I never got too burned out working on one particular task. If I ever ran into a stumbling block with one project, there always seemed to be another task to work on. A solution to the first project would usually come to me while working on the second. I also liked the people I got to work with. Most everybody treated me like a coworker and not just a co-op.

What did you not like?
If by chance there are some days where the co-op has little or nothing to do (which is very rare), you may be asked to do some random jobs around the West Garage where we work. I didn’t mind this too much, however the jobs were usually things unrelated to my major, so that would maybe be one thing I would change. Once again, though, this was a very rare occurrence.

Did you learn anything?
I was able to further develop my skills while on my co-op at Hunter (like learning new programming languages), and I also learned what aspects of my field I like more and what aspects I like less. Some of the most valuable skills I learned while at Hunter weren’t even directly related to engineering. I was able to experience what an engineering work environment is really like. I could see how real engineers developed solutions from very basic ideas, how they worked together in teams, and how they presented and demonstrated their ideas to the people who needed to see them.

Did the experience help you in your career?
Yes. I really feel that what I’ve learned at Hunter has helped me better realize what direction I want to take my career.

Did it help you in any job interviews?
Yes. Even before my co-op was completed, I was able to get a summer internship with Garmin for the following summer. I feel that my experiences and tasks at Hunter were so valuable during this interview process and ultimately helped me land this position.

What was the dress code?
For the co-ops, it was business casual. I always wore khaki pants and a dress shirt or polo shirt. It’s not as strict as the engineers who are required to wear ties.

Was the work more individual or group work and how does it compare with what
you are doing today?

The work I did was mostly on an individual basis. The engineers are always helpful (they’re used to working with co-ops), and it was nice to be able to work at my own pace. It allowed me to alternate work on several different tasks at the same time.

What are the pros/cons of working in Saint Louis? (Maybe compare it to where you
are now)

The one big advantage that I found was that while I was on co-op, I was even closer to my home town in Southern Illinois than I would have been while at Rolla. Because of this, I really enjoyed having the opportunity to go home on weekends (which wasn’t always possible in Rolla). There are plenty of things to do in the St. Louis area as well.

What were your living arrangements during co-op?
I actually lived in a hotel in St. Charles at an extended stay rate. The one advantage to this was that I was able to stay for exactly the length of time I needed and didn’t have to take out a lease for extra time that I wouldn’t be here. However, besides this fact, it really wasn’t all it was cracked up to be (especially the part where they shut down the hotel 2 weeks before my co-op was over because the owner owed back taxes, but that’s another story…). The St. Charles area was nice, though, and was about a 20 minute commute.

How was the supervision?
I felt the supervision for this position was right on. Dave let you work at own pace, but also was interested to know how your projects are going. He really encourages the use of the task list. These updates keep him informed and can be used as a reference for future projects.

Anything else you'd like to tell us about yourself?
I would just like to add that I would definitely recommend Hunter as a place to do your co-op. The experience that I gained while here was so invaluable to my future career plans. I have already discovered that this co-op has given me an advantage over many of my peers who didn’t have a co-op (or had one, but it wasn’t as beneficial), and I feel that this co-op would be a great stepping stone to launch forward with your career.