Name: Zach Turner
Class Year: 2021 (Physics Major, Statistics Minor)
Internship Position: Machine calibration technician & lab data analyst
Employer: East Coast Metrology: Global Measurement Solutions
1. Tell us about where you interned over the summer and the kind of work you are doing.
I am interning at East Coast Metrology for the summer in their engineering lab. During this process I worked with 3D laser scanners, 3D measurement arms, laser trackers and other equipment to provide machine calibrations for some of the largest engineering companies in the country. Working with equipment from Blue Origin, Raytheon, Faro, and many other companies, I learned how to put them through our accredited calibration procedure to ensure they are up to industry standards. Along with my work in the calibration lab, I was part of a team that would conduct experimental trials on other materials and equipment and construct data analysis write ups to find the properties of the materials we were working on.
2. Give us an example of how you have applied your academic learnings to your internship?
Through the physics program at Holy Cross, I have learned many valuable skills in the classroom and lab settings. When working with the laser trackers, I am able to apply knowledge about optics, wavelengths, laser refraction, thermal expansion and other concepts to the work I do in the lab to ensure I attain the best results. Lab conduct and machine handling is another skill I learned through my physics lab and the key to using heavy machinery the proper way. The metrology industry focuses on very precise measurements where every possible external variable may have an effect on the final value. Learning how to problem solve and think through every aspect of variability has proven a very helpful skill learned from the Holy Cross education. Along with the physics background, my work in statistics has proven to be equally beneficial. Using different statistical models to extract key coefficients from lab trials and experiments has been a great help in adjusting to my internship. Adjusting and constructing automated spreadsheets to calculate several findings from each calibration has shown me the connection between statistics and real-world engineering processes. Along with physics and statistics, using my computer science background from Holy Cross has allowed me to create and modify programs used to automate the movement of a given laser tracker and create fluid procedures, eventually saving valuable time in the lab.
3. What has surprised you about being an intern?
One of the earliest adjustment’s I had to learn was the 8-5 work day throughout the week. To apply myself for 9 hours a day is something that took a lot of adjusting to do and how the occupational world differs from that of undergraduate college. The other aspect of my job that surprised me is how important it is to communicate with consumers. The ability to change very scientific language to a consumer into a common vocabulary while being able to still express the main idea of the message has been something I’ve learned a lot from the internship. Having a well-rounded education has been very useful in articulating our numerical findings to consumers looking for the qualitative findings of our work.
4. How did this experience influence or connect to your future career plans / goals?
This experience has given me a great perspective into the engineering field. The ability to familiarize myself with certain software, equipment, and lab practices I would not have had without this opportunity is a huge advantage as I look to further my education and career. Working in a lab that provides their services to numerous other tech companies has given me the advantage to familiarize myself with other companies in engineering which I may look to network with in the future. The experience of working in a lab 8-5 and the routine it presents is another piece of the experience I am grateful to have received and have some experience into what work environment I enjoy for the future. Partnering this work experience with the well-rounded education I am receiving from Holy Cross is creating multiple career and education paths for my future which I can not wait to explore.
5. Any internship advice to pass on to other Holy Cross students?
For me, going into an internship in a field that I had very little experience in what something I was very uncertain in. Engineering is not a field offered at Holy Cross but with any field or internship, even if not a specific field at Holy Cross, the education preps for an easy transition to any field of study or occupation. I am able to use my physics and statistics background to problem solve find ways to complete tasks using concepts I have been educated on through Holy Cross. Any experience through an internship is useful to either see which field you want to pursue, or if you don’t believe the field, you’re working in is right for you. Growing connections, getting used to the in person work place, and finding what field suits you best are all important things one learns through any internship. This has been a great experience and has shown me the true connection between the education at Holy Cross and the future workforce we are all bound to enter.