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Co-op and Beyond

September 30, 2015

About Me 

Monsurat is a third year Mechanical Engineering student completing her first co-op as an Advanced Manufacturing Intern at General Electric (GE) Transportation in Erie, PA. She has a keen interest in renewable energies and looks forward to designing her own solar powered house one day.   

Co-op and Beyond 

When I made the decision to attend Northeastern back in 2013 it was because of the co-op program. The idea that I could work for real companies ranging from small startups to a big fortune 500 while pursuing my engineering degree sounded like a wonderful experience that could make securing a job after graduation that much easier. But little did I know that Northeastern had so much more to offer. There is tremendous flexibility in choosing your path, whether that may be a semester study abroad, dialogue of civilizations or alternative spring break. I have the opportunity to shape my experience; where I learn, what I learn, and how I learn it, not just in the classroom but outside in the world. The world is my classroom.

GE Transportation – Co-op

For my first co-op I travelled all the way to Erie, PA to work at GE Transportation’s main locomotive manufacturing facility. I would have never imagined myself in Erie a year ago, but here I am. I was fortunate enough to be able to complete a double assignment where I was a summer intern from May to August and now I’m a fall co-op through to December. This allowed me to gain a broader understanding of the transportation business. As an inventory management intern, I spent a lot of time on the shop floor where the cabs are manufactured learning about supply chain. Now, I’m working on the engineering side of the business as an advanced manufacturing intern. Working with the additive manufacturing group I get to have loads of fun using the latest 3D printing and scanning technology and I’m learning a ton about design for manufacturability. An engineer will contact us with a drawing for a part they want 3D printed for prototyping, testing, or tooling. Most of these parts weren’t originally designed for the 3D printing process so it’s our job to optimize that drawing so the part prints correctly. This requires a keen eye for detail, allowing me to improve my CAD design and problem solving skills because I have to make a judgment call on which way to orient the part to print the quickest, minimize support material and keep the critical dimensions intact; a challenge I am definitely up for.  

Renewable Energy – Solar Spring Break

In my first year engineering design class which was centered on renewable energy, our final project was to design a house solely reliant on renewable energy and that is what sparked my interest in power generated by solar panels and wind turbines. My original plan was to secure a co-op at a solar or wind power company so I could learn first-hand how these systems are designed and take part in some of the designing myself. But those plans quickly changed when I learned about an opportunity to install solar panels with Grid Alternatives in Chico, California through Northeastern’s Alternative Spring Break program. Super excited, I applied immediately and was so happy when I got in. It was amazing to take part in the installation process from start to finish. From testing the solar panels and laying out the racking on the roof to installing the panels and then wiring them through an inverter to the main breaker box connected to the house. The Grid Alternatives staff showed us the ropes and then let us do the rest but they were right there with us in case we had any questions or needed some help. I also got to participate in an interactive presentation made by one of the engineers on how a solar power system is designed for a home. In that week I took part in two different solar installations for two very grateful families. I stepped foot on a roof for the first time and it was exciting and scary at the same time. We installed a total of 6.55 kW, saving the earth from 171 tons of greenhouse gas emissions which is equivalent to planting 4,030 trees. So, not only did I get to learn more about solar but I also helped lessen the burden of electricity costs on the families and helped save the environment.

These experiences are only the beginning and I can’t wait to find more opportunities to explore my interests inside and outside of the classroom.