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Author Topic: Work Placement?  (Read 1095 times)

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Offline AlptraumTopic starter

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Work Placement?
« on: April 21, 2011, 03:33:28 PM »
Hi there,

I am a 17 year old student at Westminster School in London, UK. I am currently studying for Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Electronics A Levels, and I intend to study either Cybernetics, Mechanical Engineering, or Electronics Engineering at Imperial, Cambridge, Bristol, or Manchester (Uni choices aren't final at the moment...).

I am intending to attempt to get a work placement of some kind at the Shadow Robotics company, based near Angel in London, even though no specific details of anything beyond internships are listed on their website.

My question is, is there something that is well worth doing in order to essentially sell myself to them? What skills should I have before I ask for the placement?
I am currently unable to use most CAD programs (although I can and have learned to use them in the past extremely quickly, though I forgot them through several years of misuse.), however I am able to use Blender and Photoshop with a high level of proficiency. I am able to program in ASM, and have dabbled in C and Python before. I have basic workshop skills, and then all the obvious stuff about being hard working, passionate, generally competent, smart, etc.


Any and all help is much appreciated.

Thanks.

Offline Gertlex

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Re: Work Placement?
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2011, 08:13:31 AM »
I make no claims to know what companies are interested in... but for improving yourself, there's nothing quite like working on projects of your own, outside of school.  You didn't mention anything like that.

Also how does one misuse CAD? ;)

(Also lol @ UK: "further maths")
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Offline AlptraumTopic starter

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Re: Work Placement?
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2011, 09:00:16 AM »
I make no claims to know what companies are interested in... but for improving yourself, there's nothing quite like working on projects of your own, outside of school.  You didn't mention anything like that.

Also how does one misuse CAD? ;)

(Also lol @ UK: "further maths")

Ahh, shaddap  :D

Yeah, misuse of CAD was a woozy brain typo... I meant not using it. Thanks very much for the response. I have done a couple of things, but they were too complex and expensive to see through to conclusion... I have designs and flow charts for a few things, but I can't (or couldn't) afford the kit to actually make them. But I reckon that's a good idea, I hope I'll finally get around to building some of them.

Offline Crunchy Theory

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Re: Work Placement?
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2011, 09:50:59 AM »
Do you have any idea what you'd be working on? Robotics is spread pretty well across Mechanical, Electrical, and Software engineering. Depending on the company and what they're building, there may even be a greater emphasis on two over the third.

If they're really interested in putting you where you will be able to contribute the most, it would probably be the easiest to beef up your C skills since you don't need as much of a higher education for that compared to the other fields. You could teach yourself that while you're waiting to get to into the programs and courses that you're planning on.
The only way to top an upright screen, keyboard, and mouse is to eliminate the need for humans to touch a PC at all. Oh, hello there Mr. Robot... what would I like you to do, you ask?

Offline AlptraumTopic starter

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Re: Work Placement?
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2011, 02:06:56 PM »
Sounds like a good idea. I have no idea what it would be, and it may well just be fetching coffee... But all the same, I basically need to whore myself out for UCAS. That's kinda why I'm asking the question... I guess a better question would be - If you were the manager of a small robotics company and had at your disposal an eager and intelligent 17 year old who just won't piss off, what would you do with him? Because if there's a little niche of the "Shit, I wish I had an extra pair of hands" or "I wish I could do [mundane task] without leaving my desk" variety, or something a little better, then I'd like to be able to be that guy. Just so there's a bit of a selling point, y'know?

Offline Crunchy Theory

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Re: Work Placement?
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2011, 04:52:22 PM »
Right, that makes sense. And it's good that you're already expecting that because that is what you'll probably be doing. I started interning for a semiconductor company very early in my undergrad years before I had gotten to the more useful courses. So I had a very limited background in programming and electrical engineering compared to the other older interns and they basically had to figure out things for me to do (that I could do). I ended up being the intern that took all the odd jobs for awhile. Repetitive tasks that no one else wanted to do, like screening chips over the weekend.

It sounds boring, but it was actually much cooler working at a high-tech company than serving coffee or working a cash register. Plus this internship paid very well. Eventually I got very good at learning new jobs very quickly and they figured out which areas I worked best in. It also helped me tune the rest of my education to what would be useful in this field since I had been experiencing first-hand. They hired me on right after graduation (in the middle of a recession, too) and I've been working there ever since.

As the expression goes... "foot in the door and you're in for more"
The only way to top an upright screen, keyboard, and mouse is to eliminate the need for humans to touch a PC at all. Oh, hello there Mr. Robot... what would I like you to do, you ask?

Offline waltr

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Re: Work Placement?
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2011, 06:13:58 PM »
How are your soldering skills? Any engineer likes having someone to build to modify circuits.
How are you with electronic instruments like DVM, O'scope, Function generator?

Can you read a schematic?
Do you understand most of what is in data sheets?
Do you know Ohm's Law and how and when to use it?

How about the various serial protocols like RS232, SPI, I2C, synchronous verses asynchronous?
Could you use an O'scope to decode and verify the data and timing.

Can you draw a schematic for a transistor switch using NPN, PNP, Pch & Nch MOSFET?

How about some of the many micro-controllers? Any assembler or C language with them?

These would be a few of the topics I would look for in an entry level tech or an intern. I like getting my own coffee.

Offline Gertlex

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Re: Work Placement?
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2011, 08:55:36 PM »
How are your soldering skills? Any engineer likes having someone to build to modify circuits.
How are you with electronic instruments like DVM, O'scope, Function generator?

Can you read a schematic?
Do you understand most of what is in data sheets?
Do you know Ohm's Law and how and when to use it?

How about the various serial protocols like RS232, SPI, I2C, synchronous verses asynchronous?
Could you use an O'scope to decode and verify the data and timing.

Can you draw a schematic for a transistor switch using NPN, PNP, Pch & Nch MOSFET?

How about some of the many micro-controllers? Any assembler or C language with them?

These would be a few of the topics I would look for in an entry level tech or an intern. I like getting my own coffee.

Just to maybe reduce potential freaking out... In my high school (2900 students), I doubt there were 10 students who could do even half of the things listed there.

They're good things to know; It's obviously important to recognize what oddball skills/familiarities you've happened to acquire. (I don't know half of the above, in fact... but I'm a nuke)
« Last Edit: April 22, 2011, 08:57:13 PM by Gertlex »
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Offline Graynomad

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Re: Work Placement?
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2011, 09:19:07 PM »
I got into my two major vocations by just showing I was dead keen and producing examples of my "work", in photography that was of course photographs, in electronics engineering I just knocked on doors with a bunch of schematics under my arm.

In both cases I had no training but was I guess seen to have the "knack" and was as keen as mustard.

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Scattered showers my arse -- Noah, 2348BC.

Offline AlptraumTopic starter

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Re: Work Placement?
« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2011, 02:07:39 PM »
How are your soldering skills? Any engineer likes having someone to build to modify circuits.
How are you with electronic instruments like DVM, O'scope, Function generator?

Can you read a schematic?
Do you understand most of what is in data sheets?
Do you know Ohm's Law and how and when to use it?

How about the various serial protocols like RS232, SPI, I2C, synchronous verses asynchronous?
Could you use an O'scope to decode and verify the data and timing.

Can you draw a schematic for a transistor switch using NPN, PNP, Pch & Nch MOSFET?

How about some of the many micro-controllers? Any assembler or C language with them?

These would be a few of the topics I would look for in an entry level tech or an intern. I like getting my own coffee.

I can solder through hole, and I have a steady hand so could probably pick up surface mount pretty easily.
I can use all of the instruments you listed there.

Schematic reading, fine. Data sheet understanding, fine. Basic electronics theory, decent circuit design.
No idea about serial protocols, I'll look them up. Once I knew them, I suspect it wouldn't be a massive jump to getting the timing diagrams from an oscilloscope.

I'm pretty sure about the switches, a couple I'd need to look up.
I've primarily used PIC microcontrollers with assembler. I briefly dabbled in C, but again, I'd have to brush up on it.

Thanks very much for the response, just what I was looking for. I'll start reading...

Offline waltr

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Re: Work Placement?
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2011, 03:42:58 PM »
Sound like you could be handy to have in a small robotics company. You have the basic skills and the desire/ability to learn.

Offline hazzer123

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Re: Work Placement?
« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2011, 05:57:16 PM »
Wow

I live literally 5 mins away from your school and currently chair the robotics society at Imperial College. We are also in discussion with Shadow Robot Company about future collaboration with them.

You should come and check us out! I've left you a PM with more details :)
Imperial College Robotics Society
www.icrobotics.co.uk

 


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