Co-Op Spotlight: Rober Carrillo

Year: Fourth-year
Major: Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Co-op: LAND Energy, Cleveland, June-December

What is your role? And what are your day-to-day tasks? 

I was a mechanical engineering intern. Each day could be very different from the previous one, and my time at the company was better organized depending on the project I was currently working on. But mostly I worked on two tasks during the day that I could organize: assembly line support and my engineering project. For the assembly line support, I would repurpose and fix peripheral components of the bikes. Another task was to test and iterate over different structural and external 3D-printed components to be installed on the bikes to solve small problems that our clients or partners in the assembly line noticed. Another task I performed in support of the assembly line was to construct a testbench for electrical motors which saved a lot of time in the quality control process by preventing the installation of under performing motors on the bikes. The engineering project that I led was to build a comprehensive model of the bike’s performance and range. Accounting for aerodynamic, mechanical, and electrical components. I worked on this project for about 5 months which included driving the bikes, making my recording tools, writing code to analyze the data collected by the bikes, and building a model that could explain the data collected from all the different tests and predict with accuracy the performance that buyers would see on the road.

What was your favorite part?

My favorite part was the amount of decision-making freedom I had to organize my time and my project. I was allowed to spend more time at the beginning of my project to build my recording tools and learn more about electronics instead of using existing ones. In the long run, I found this to be more beneficial for the company because that gave them more freedom in the way they record and store data, for example visualizing real-time data to the driver or controlling the process from a phone. It was also beneficial for me because I improved my skills in programming and communicating between microcontrollers.

What is something you've learned that you didn't know before starting your co-op?

I learned a lot about project management and the integration of mechanical and electrical devices. I led a mechanical project before for my EMAE 160 class but for the model of the bike’s performance, I had to define the type of tools, tests, and time windows required to achieve the goals of the project, even when the goals kept increasing and including the help that I needed from other members of the company that also had their tasks to complete.

I also learned a lot about communicating engineering, assembly, and manufacturing concepts with people with different knowledge backgrounds. I had to explain clearly my project or test results to other engineers and had to understand and learn a lot about processes and checks from coworkers in the assembly line. Communication had to be constant between all members of the company to achieve clear goals.

How did you find your co-op?

I found out about the co-op and the company from a visit they made to the university, although I applied almost 6 months later when they opened a role in Handshake. I knew I could be a great fit for the company from the things they mentioned before and contacted them again with interest in their co-op program, they offered me an interview at the company and the rest is history.

If another student asked you about co-op, what would you tell them?

I would encourage students to apply to many different types of companies, including startups, they might not offer the most competitive benefit programs as large companies but the level of camaraderie, decision-making freedom, and the broad set of skills that are put to work makes the work completely fulfilling and a good experience for starting a working career. I tried to apply to companies that were doing exciting work, even if they were not the most common choices for my major, and found it a very rewarding experience.

Have you done another co-op? If yes, where and what year?

I did a brief remote co-op the year before at Colossus, a company that offers solar system designs to homeowners and it greatly improved my experience with programming, and used the opportunity to learn more about non-engineering concepts in a growing small company.