“Growing up, I knew I wanted to help people,” recalled Ava-Rose Nelson, an electrical engineering major at the University of St. Thomas, “and I knew I liked math and science so as I got older I started looking into those fields. When I was a freshmen in high school, my mom brought home an article about biomedical engineering. Reading it really inspired me, knowing that I could build something that could help people and take away some of their pain. So I came to college knowing I wanted to be an electrical engineer.”
Through her classes at St. Thomas Nelson confirmed her interest in the major, but it wasn’t until recently that she got the opportunity to apply her skillset to a medical application. This summer Nelson finally made the connection when she secured an internship with Design Solutions, a Chanhassen-based ISO-certified design firm specializing in electrical, software and mechanical design contracts within the medical device industry.
Design Solutions has worked with students for the last few years, often hiring them through the state-funded SciTech Internship Program. Their goal when bringing on interns, explained Greg Shultz, Design Solution’s founder, “is to bring in someone and expose them to what will be good for them as they mature in their career. For Ava-Rose specifically that meant getting her involved in CAD work and electrical design. She expressed some interest in Bluetooth technology so we’re trying to have her immersed in that the best we can.”
A typical Design Solutions internship would mean coming into the office every day, but with COVID the company has taken necessary precautions to ensure their employees’ health and wellbeing. Like many of her coworkers, Nelson spent a good deal of time working remote. The distance, however, had little effect on her learning and engagement.
Design Solutions gave Nelson a work laptop and sent her some electronics to work on from home. By leveraging Microsoft Teams to facilitate regular check-ins and communication, Nelson’s experience was still very collaborative.
“I definitely like working at a smaller company. I’ve been able to work with a lot of other people and meet more people within the company,” Nelson said. “I’ve had meetings with some of the other engineers and it’s nice getting their input on where the projects I’m working on should go and what they think might be possible for me to achieve during this internship.”
A Great Engineer
When Nelson first started she began working with CAD designs and researching Bluetooth technology. Once she found her footing, she was given her own assignment: to build an app through Flutter that was designed to take in data over Bluetooth using a Nordic Semiconductor board. The code that she used was compatible with both android and iOS.
“One of my favorite parts is just understanding the coding and Bluetooth a little bit more. It was really interesting to me to understand how those two interact and how I could build something on my computer and then physically download it onto a phone and then actually connect it to the device. That was really interesting,” Nelson said.
Once she was taught the basics, the engineers gave Nelson room to grow, providing assistance only when she asked for it. Nelson took to this independence and really proved herself to the team.
“The difference between a good engineer and great engineer,” Shultz said, “is really taking advantage of being autonomous and going to the next level. If you’re really curious about how something works and you have a deeper understanding of it you’ll become a better engineer, and that’s what Ava is doing.”
“It definitely gives me a good sense of pride and makes me feel confident knowing that I’ll be helping the company with this app and the Bluetooth connection that I’m making. It’s a good feeling knowing that they can build off what I’m working on this summer and that it can really help them in the future.”
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