International Experience Scholarship – Josh O’Reilly

Daniella: Hey Josh.
Josh: Hey. D: Thanks for
sitting down with me.
J: Oh my pleasure. D: So, I understand that you were a recipient
of the International Experience Scholarship? J: Yes, I received it last January when I
went to Germany for my co-op term. D: What institution was that with? J: That was with Zema, the Zentrum für Mechatronik und Automatisierungstechnik gemeinnützige which I can’t pronounce properly
but it translates to the Center for automation and mechatronics. So, essentially they’re
really interesting hybrid, but normally they have like a company that only works with..
it’s very industrial in the sense that you have employees and you’re working to build
your own product and then you have research institutions kinda like a university. This
was a nice hybrid where they take Masters and PhD students, group them up with undergraduate
students, such as myself, some people from the industry, and then you’d work with industrial
companies. They’d come to you with their problem and then you’d essentially work on it for either
your Master’s thesis or a PhD and you develop a product that they’d actually end up using.
And there’s a lot of resources which meant that you got to see some pretty impressive projects being panned out. D: So, as you say you’re currently an undergrad, so what’s this for? A co-op placement? J: Yes. This was for my second co-op placement. Yeah, I’m currently on the third year right now, but this was last January. D: Did you consider going back?
J: Oh, absolutely, yeah. I really enjoyed it. I’ve always had two interests in engineering,
I’d say aerospace and automation. And it was nice actually to be able to work in one of
those industries and see whether or not it is something I want to pursue later on.
But I worked there and I absolutely loved it. I had honestly considered going back to my
last co-op term as well. D: Nice. What part were you involved in? J: So I was working with a PhD
student dealing with automating the aircraft manufacturing process. So you know at the
back of the aircraft you have.. at the back it becomes more narrow and at a certain point
there’s a steel plate that you don’t usually see but it’s called the bulkhead and essentially
it acts as a separator between the outside pressure and the cabin pressure, just so things
don’t blow apart on you. But thing is, when you’re manufacturing, you take this back piece
and you flip it on its side so you have like an inverse ice-cream cone and then there’s
about 400 rivets they need to be placed on the top. So the idea is that one person would
be on top with the riveting gun, a second person would be sitting underneath the cone
with the riveting anvil and they’d hold it up and essentially they’d work together to
go through these 400 rivets. But the problem is that this is like a three to four hour
process. The riveting anvil the person is carrying on the inside weighs like 10 to 15
pounds and it’s obscenely loud. Whenever a boss would demo it to people we’d know to
cover ears in advance because we knew it was gonna be terribly loud. They never did so
of course they always jumped. But the idea is, it’s not a fun working condition for the
person on the inside and it’s not a super safe either, so the idea is to take that person
on the inside and place a robotic arm instead with the riveting anvil still attached on
the end of it and it is that, that would the the riveting process for them. So the robotic
arm would move from position to position on the inside while the person on the outside
would be telling where to go essentially with either like a SmartWatch or Microsoft HoloLens.
And in fact they could actually see the robot through the surface of the bulkhead using
augmented reality glasses. So I could always see what the robot was doing. So that way
it made the working conditions safer for the remaining people but it also means that now
that can work on another aircraft bulkhead, so you can double the production rate.
So it really is a project that has like huge implications and I was excited to work on
it, there was a lot of fun. D: Almost like “the future is now”.
J: Yeah, exactly. D: Your department is? J: I’m mechanical engineering, but I also have the side degree of computing technology which made this job really great actually because it was partially programming and it was partially mechanical engineering, so I was responsible for designing this software to make the robot move, but in order to make the robot move you have to understand how motion works for robots and that really does fit into the field of mechanical engineering. So I was able to apply both mechanical engineering knowledge that was actually beyond my year that I’ll be learning in the upcoming semester, and also apply software knowledge and learn more there as well. D: Wow sounds like it really gives you a leg up on.. J: Oh absolutely, absolutely.I’m gonna walk into my next class and (phew) I’m good. D: Do you think this has really given you an idea of what you want when you go on to your career as an engineer? J: Yeah, definitely. I mean… It’s always been one of the fields I’ve wanted to get into and now that I’ve actually tried it out I absolutely love it I’d consider going back there for my last term and I’d love to also work in the field of automation once I’ve graduated . It’s definitely solidified in my mind what I want to do. D: You know so many things, it seems like it’s the tip of the iceberg. Thanks for sitting down and chatting with me.
J: Oh thank you, it’s my pleasure. Need funding for an opportunity abroad?
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