Pathways to Success

Garden Spot High School

Joe Sharp – Engineering Internship

My name is Joseph Sharp, and I am a senior at Garden Spot High School.  This spring semester, I was blessed with the opportunity to intern at ATI Corporation in New Holland with a focus on engineering.  ATI mainly designs, manufactures, and sells construction equipment such as grading products and skid loader attachments.  Because it is a smaller company, ATI only has two engineers employed, but both of them have already taught me more about engineering in the past couple of months than I ever could’ve imagined.  In fact, having only two engineers calls for them to have a very wide range of responsibilities, so I rarely ever find myself observing or performing the same task more than once a week.

My mentor, Eric Kauffman, often refers to himself as a “jack of all trades but a master of none” because of how many different tasks he performs on a regular basis.  However, because Eric and his colleague, Grant Garber, are the only two engineers at ATI, they were never able to specialize in just one aspect of engineering like employees at companies with much larger staffs are able to.  That being said, I feel like ATI was the perfect company for me to have my first internship because I have been able to accumulate knowledge from several different areas of engineering.  Engineering is such a broad topic of study, so I feel it has been good for me to explore so many different aspects early on to figure out what I like best before trying to decide on a single field to commit to for the rest of my career.

At ATI, I have learned the most about mechanical and electrical engineering.  A few of the tasks I perform on a fairly regular basis include creating wire harnesses for machine testing, assembling loader attachments, and learning how to set up and operate machine control systems on a skid loader.  Probably my favorite job to perform at my internship, however, has been using a computer-aided design (CAD) program to create part drawings and design objects that eventually get cut out by a laser and bent by a company machine to be used for testing purposes.  For example, I had the opportunity to design a bracket that got mounted to a metal column in the company warehouse to hold a laser transmitter, making it a lot easier to test the machine control technology because we no longer need to take the time to set up the transmitter before every test.  Currently, I am working on replicating a miniature steel model of a Jeep using CAD, and I am very excited about the end product.

Eric and Grant have informed me that no matter what field of engineering I decide to go into, I will most likely use CAD, so I am happy that I have the opportunity to get accustomed to a CAD program before even finishing high school.  One other piece of advice they gave me is that it is important to develop strong communication skills because engineers are infamous for being terrible communicators, which was news to me.  Apparently, it is very common for an engineer to change a design or add a new part to a machine any time they see an opportunity to make something better, but they often fail to communicate their thought process and leave the rest of the company in the dark.  Additionally, I was told that sometimes engineers let their imaginations run wild and design something that could not realistically be built using company resources or machines.  Therefore, it is important to think about the building process and the practicality of an idea before jumping into a new project so that you don’t give a coworker the impossible task of trying to figure out how to turn a crazy design into an actual product.

Overall, this internship has made me more confident in my decision to pursue a career in engineering after high school.  ATI has been an excellent company for me to explore the ins and outs of such a broad field and learn which aspects of engineering I like the most.  The opportunity to experience life in a workplace has been extremely valuable and makes me feel more prepared for my college education and future employment, wherever that may be.  I am excited to see where the rest of my time with ATI takes me, and I am so grateful for everyone who made this internship possible.



jhackman • May 19, 2021

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