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Troy Wolz (January 2009 - July 2009)

Name: Troy Wolz

School: Missouri University of Science and Technology (University of Missouri-Rolla)

Major: Electrical Engineering

Co-op period: January 2009 – July 2009

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

Current Location:
I’ll be returning to Rolla when my Co-op is over.

What was the interview process like?

I had never heard of Hunter Engineering before they called me. They found my resume on Miner Jobs (which means put your resume online). When I showed up at Hunter Engineering, I first met Pat Hutsler. I took the aptitude test, which was kind of fun, then Pat came and talked to me for a while. After Pat talked to me, Dave Voeller (your boss) came and talked to me for a while. Then Pat talked to me some more. The interview process was really nerve racking, until I actually got there. Pat and Dave didn’t try to ask me difficult questions until I cracked. It was really more of a job description with feedback from me. It was very natural and relaxing. Also, Dave can smell if you’re lying about yourself. It’s not even worth trying. If you aren’t enthusiastic about working here, good luck, you’ll need it. Dave is very enthusiastic about what he does, and he’s looking for a co-op that is too.

What did you do?

I’m just going to make a list with a small description or each item. Keep in mind that I’m only including things that were relatively important. There were several days spent doing things that didn’t make the list. Things like trying to make software crash, reformatting hard drives, software accuracy checks, and more stuff like that. Here’s the real list:

Order all missing tools – When I showed up here, our toolbox was so much different than you will ever see it. We were missing so many tools, and things weren’t organized well. My first real job was to do an inventory of all the tools we didn’t have and then order them. In this job, I learned a lot of terminology that will last the rest of my life.

Program Imager – I was given an imager that wasn’t programmed. I had to program its ability to resize an image, and I had to program all the calculations for the imager’s exposure. This was my first C++ project, and I also used C with a microcontroller to control the imager.

Tool Database – This is the project I was completely in charge of. I didn’t have anybody to answer to for this one. I designed an entire organization system for every tool we have in our toolbox. It’s an Access Database using VBA to control everything. If I’m remembered for anything, this will be it.

Research Barcode Scanners – Although this doesn’t sound like much, this project became really important really fast. Hunter uses barcode scanners for their software, and it was my job to research all the possibilities and suggest which scanners to use. Through doing all this research, I became the Scanner Man as Dan Eberhart called me. I even received a few calls from the field of people having difficulties with scanners.

Balancer USB File IO – I programmed a method to get information onto and off of a flash drive plugged into a linux based balancer. It’s fun to think that my code is out in the world now for people to see and use.

Log File Viewer – When aligners and balancer crash, they spit out these little files that contain key traces and stuff so engineers can go back and try to figure out what caused the problem. The issue with these files is that in some cases they are impossible to look through with the human eye. I worked on the program that takes these files and presents the information in a useful way. The program works for two different log files, both of which are impossible to look at and get useful information out of.

Version Utility – This was a Visual Basic project that I started from scratch. I needed to develop a program that would compare all the files in two user defined directories and present the data in a visually appealing way. I enjoyed this one a lot.

I thought I would be able to do an outline like this for all the important things I did here, but that’s not the case. There are about ten more things I would like to put here, but I don’t want you to lose interest in reading the rest of this thing. If you haven’t already…

Would you do it again?
I would probably do this again even if they didn’t pay me. Well, maybe not. The only reason I am hesitant about saying I would do it again is that I don’t know if a co-op position still has much to teach me. I would like to emphasize that the reason I’m hesitant is not because of my enjoyment of the job; I absolutely loved it. You will too.

What did you like?

Everything except what is mentioned below. Every aspect of the working, learning, interacting, and anything else you do here is an enjoyable experience. There were several nights when I would go to sleep excited about what I was going to be working on the next day. You know you’re enjoying your job when that happens.

The people here are great. The main people you’ll work with are Dave and Dan Eberhart. Although it’s hard at first with all the Dans and Dave, it will get better. Dan is a great guy. He knows more about cars than anybody I’ve ever met in my life, so he’s pretty much a huge resource if you need to know something about your car. Some other great people shout outs (in no particular order): Dave, Roger, Jason, Dan D, Brad, Rich, Tim L (both of them), Brian, Lou, Friton, Steve, and Joel. Hopefully you will get to know these guys; they’re amazing to work with

What did you not like?

The Roving Holiday. This is a special day when the full-timers take off work. Yay, four-day weekend! Boo. We don’t get paid days we don’t work, so I just lost an entire day’s pay. If you’re lucky, it won’t happen in your semester.

There is one engineer that was very difficult to work with. I won’t say who, but I’m sure you’ll find out if you get the job. He was the only person I didn’t enjoy working with.

There are times when the co-op work is lacking, so that’s when Dan Eberhart gets to use you. He has a lot of work that is mind-numbingly boring. While he is analyzing issues, you are stuck pushing buttons on an aligner all day. Literally all day.

Did you learn anything?

There are two levels of things I’ve learned here. The first level is stuff I’ve learned on a physical level. As in things I can now do that I couldn’t do before this co-op. The second level is the way I have changed as a worker and a person to be more ready for my future career(s).

First Level: When I first got here, I had taken one class in C++, and that’s it. Now I’ve done about 5 huge projects in C++, one in C with a microcontroller, several in Visual Basic, and a really huge one using Microsoft Access and VBA.

Second Level: I am more confident in my abilities as a programmer and learner. I am more resourceful. When given a project that’s way above my head, I can break it down and do it very well every time.

When you’re given your first huge programming assignment, you’ll find out really fast that work is way different from school. At school, you have to do things a certain way. Here, you have to get something done, and that’s your only rule. It’s very different.

Did the experience help you in your career?
I am confident that my career goals have been solidified by working here. This job has discovered my passion for cars and programming. Another great thing that will help in a career is that Dave will give you advice if you want it. I don’t mean advice about how to do something you’re working on; I mean he will tell you certain ways to approach the rest of your career. It’s very helpful if you’re willing to listen.

Did it help you in any job interviews?
I haven’t had any interviews since working here yet, but I know this will help. This was my first real job, so at the interview I didn’t have much to talk about. For every interview for the rest of my life, I’m sure I will talk about things from this job. I have done work that makes me a much more attractive target for companies, and I’m confident in my abilities to showcase

What was the dress code?
Business Casual. The minimum you could wear was khaki pants and a collared shirt. I often like to dress up more than that just because it’s nice to know you almost look like a real engineer sometimes. Although between you and me, you don’t get analyzed every day when you show up. I’ve worn tennis shoes to work before, and nobody noticed. As long as you do your work and you don’t show up just a t-shirt or a panda suit, you’ll be fine. And as I’m sure you’ve read by now, it gets really hot in khaki pants and collared shirts in the middle of the summer, but there’s no way to avoid that.

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

Everything I did was individual work in the sense that I never was programming with a team or anything. Although it’s individual work, you’re never really alone if you’re doing something for an engineer. The person in charge of your current project will always be available to help you out with your questions. The only time I was completely alone is when I designed and implemented a toolbox organization system. I wasn’t working under anybody for that. I was completely in charge of the entire process for a change.

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

Before I came here, I had only been to St. Louis a couple times. It is pretty fun up here because everything is within a few miles (except Staples…). If you’re the kind of person that needs something to do all the time, then St. Louis is the place for you. I’m just a few minutes from the zoo, Busch Stadium, the Arch, parks, food, video stores, hair places, banks, or pretty much anything you want. It’s definitely a change of pace from where I grew up.

What were your living arrangements during co-op?
I lived in an apartment about ten minutes South of Hunter. It was nice. I got to live without a roommate, and it was the first time I’ve ever been living on my own. It just added yet another learning opportunity. If you’re worried about housing arrangements, just ask Pat to give you my information and I’ll tell you everything about the place I lived at. I would definitely recommend where I’m living right now.

How was the supervision?
The supervision is exactly how you want it to be. If you want to be left alone, Dave will just check up on you every couple days to make sure you didn’t die. If you need help though, he’s always available to help. It’s not only Dave that will be there to help out though. If you ever are working for a different engineer, then that engineer will always be willing to help out and supervise. They appreciate that you’re taking a little bit of the load off their shoulders.

Anything else you'd like to tell us about yourself?

Let’s say you don’t know whether to take the job or not. Here are the reasons you should do it.

Don’t worry about the semester lost; you’ll learn 30 times more working here than you will at school anyway. You get paid so you can waste all your money on fun stuff. If your car is doing something that you don’t think it should, you can get it fixed for free (to an extent). Dan Eberhart knows your car better than you do. Working here will result in a 20% higher starting salary when you graduate. Most of all, you’re going to enjoy working here.

Here are the reasons not to.

You don’t really want to get paid much when you graduate. You already know everything there is to know in the world. You hate puppies.

As you can see, the pros far outweigh the cons. The one thing I can promise you is that you won’t regret missing the semester of school to work here. It will be completely worth it.