Daniel Clawson (Spring 2022)
Name: Daniel Clawson
School: Missouri S&T
Major: Aerospace/Mechanical Engineering
Co-op period: Spring 2022
What was the interview process like?
I talked to Hunter at the career fair and gave them my resume, a few days later, I got a call from HR to set up a couple tests and an online interview. I interviewed with the Co-Op supervisor, Brian Cejka, and another engineer. The interview was somewhat relaxed. It started out with the standard interview questions about previous work experience and coursework, but turned into a more casual conversation about my hands-on experience restoring cars. After the interview and a few assessments, I was offered the position.
Most students just want experience, but they may not know what type of experience they want. Please describe some of the work you did and what type of skills you needed. It is important to note the skills you could apply from what you’ve learned in school and what you learned on the job.
My daily tasks were assembling, testing, and modifying prototype systems; I was also given a few design projects such as an assembly fixture, and a cycle tester. The most important skills for me were communication, and observation. During the Co-Op, I was able to improve my skills with communicating in a professional environment and recording/presenting data in the proper manner. While assembling and doing prototype testing. I had to be very detail-oriented and observant to catch any problems, whether it be design or manufacturing related, no matter how minuscule. I felt that I was and will be able to use the technical communication skills learned in school, and the observation skills I improved during my Co-Op, in all my future endeavors.
What experience do you think will be the most useful for you in the future?
The hands-on experience with prototype testing and test fixture design will be most useful for me in the future. In the R&D Engineering field, any experience with prototype testing and the testing design process will be beneficial no matter where you work.
How do you think the overall experience will help you in your career?
Throughout the Co-Op, I was exposed to almost every stage of the design process, got hands-on experience designing fixtures, testing prototypes, and communicating in a professional workplace. All these experiences are beneficial to me in future careers, as it was my first experience in a professional environment and working on product development team. This experience will help prepare me for what I might encounter in a future career and help me to tackle problems easier.
What aspect of the work did you enjoy the most?
I enjoyed the freedom and responsibility I was given through the variety of projects I was assigned. I got experience keeping track of deadlines for multiple projects and tasks from different engineers, I mostly got to pick what order I worked on the tasks, and how I wanted to complete the projects, if they were done on time. The trust given to me to keep track of and complete many highly important tasks on time helped build my confidence. On design projects, I was told what the item needed to do, but I was pretty much free to make it happen however I wanted, with as little or as much guidance as I wanted. This was intimidating at first, but helped my confidence in the end.
What aspect of the work did you not enjoy?
There were a few days that a long testing session would get boring and tedious, but knowing the data will be used for something practical and tangible made it worth it to me.
Did you learn anything?
During my time as a Co-Op, I worked on a large verity of projects and got to see almost every aspect of the engineering process. Through this, I was able to gain knowledge in a range of topics and learn new skills in many different subjects. I got to do hands on work with many new tools that I hadn’t used before, learn a new CAD software and how to do engineering drawings. I got to learn more about machine vision through cameras and lasers, get practice with the mechanical design process, and many other things that can’t be done in a classroom environment.
Students often want to know if they will work alone or in a group. Was the work you did more individual or group work, and how does it compare with what you have done in school or at another job?
My work was mostly alone, but I had a fair share of group work on some long term testing. It was comparable to school because most of the smaller projects were solo, but the larger projects were shared where everyone had their own job, and it would come together in the end. On some of the long term testing, another co-op and I would take turns collecting data as we had time, which is also similar to how a group project works in school.
What were your living arrangements during co-op? This question is especially important for those that are not from St. Louis.
I lived at home in New Melle, MO, which was about a 35-minute commute.
How was the supervision?
I thought the supervision was perfect. I had to keep track of the deadlines for my assigned tasks and projects, which gave me more experience with time management in a professional environment. The engineers would check in on the status of projects sometimes, but I was largely responsible for keeping them updated as I completed tasks or ran into problems. In instances where there were multiple high-priority tasks, the engineers were great about helping me to prioritize the projects to get them completed in an efficient manner.
Anything else you'd like to tell us about yourself, Hunter Engineering, the co-op program or the work?
While being a Co-Op at Hunter, you are exposed to a large variety of tasks and projects and have a wealth of knowledge available to you through the engineers. You can gain as much knowledge and experience as you desire, but no matter what attitude you have, you will gain positive experience that will help you in future careers.