(Intern John Eslinger)
F3 Wireless is a small Minneapolis-based engineering firm developing electronic products for the IoT market. When it comes to the “Internet of Things,” they make the “things” worth connecting to.
Like many businesses, F3 Wireless transitioned their team to a remote office model during the swell of the COVID-19 outbreak. This meant that the SciTech interns they hired, Keila Cortes Mera, John Eslinger and Sailesh Timilsena, shared the unique experience of honing their electrical and mechanical engineering skills from the comforts of home.
They all agreed that working from home took some getting used to. Though Eslinger joked that he enjoyed having a shorter commute than he’d expected now that he was working a foot away from his bed, the home/work environment was “still doable. It just takes practice and focus.”
To help keep them on task, each intern committed to different projects:
- Eslinger focused on hardware, developing interface capabilities for a smart thermostat
- Cores Mera worked on a wirelessly controlled keg tap that can monitor and control the amount of liquid poured at a time
- Timilsena was responsible for testing and improving network safety for a SGM 324 device. “It took a lot of time to get the hang of it, because working online, you get lost sometimes,” Timilsena said, “but the other engineers really helped me through that process.”
With communication tools like Slack and Google Hangouts at their disposal, it was easy to screen-share with F3’s senior engineers to show them what they were stuck on and work through any problems they faced.
Investing in talent
For a small business like F3 Wireless, interns provide a significant contribution to the growth and productivity of the company. Whether they’re helping tackle the influx of small projects that arise over the summer, or contributing to the company’s full time workforce, there’s a lot that both sides can gain from the other.
“Finding people who know our field and all the ins and outs of our industry is so valuable,” said David Thompson, F3’s Project Manager. “Experienced people are typically already employed. So being able to work with people in school so they can develop themselves in this career does both of us good. Learning early is always better and it develops our team as well. Training people is a wonderful way to get better at your own career.”
“I have a lot of hours under my belt now,” she added, “and I learned a lot more software tools than I thought I would.”
Eslinger reflected on the problem-solving skills he developed during this time, chiming in with his fellow interns as they discussed the frustration once can feel when trying to engineer a solution or fix a bug that just won’t budge.
“Sometimes it makes you want to give up but when you see it working, especially with a wireless device, that’s an incredible feeling,” Eslinger said. “Seeing something going from one device to another and knowing it didn’t make it through a wired connection but by something you did, it’s wonderful to see that and it’s given me a lot of joy.”