Mechanical Engineering Major Peter Rohrbach came to his internship at TruNorth Automation with 2 previous internships through SciTech in product design and laboratory testing, in addition to academic research. This spring, he was looking for something with a strong balance between hands-on application and engineering theory.

TruNorth’s mentorship approach to internships meant that Rohrbach got the opportunity to work closely with Engineering Manager Mike Hoffman who provided him with guidance and support during those initial months. This proved to be a useful learning experience for both.

“It was my first time being a manager,” said Hoffman. “It taught me that it’s always really valuable to back up and focus on the fundamentals first. And Peter was really smart, he didn’t just do whatever I told him, he challenged me along the way. So, I was learning new ways to expand my teaching ability along with that.”

Rohrbach’s internship started with a few weeks on the manufacturing floor, then a chance to learn some drafting basics and industry standards before he was assigned a project and a deadline to demonstrate what he learned.

“Owning a design that’s mine, starting from scratch and making something: that’s what I enjoy,” Rohrbach said.  

Welcome aboard
When Rohrbach graduated and his internship concluded, TruNorth offered him a fulltime position as a Design Engineer, which he gladly accepted. The biggest change going from an intern to an employee, he said, was the level of exposure and control he got over his projects.

Working part time meant starting something only to hand it over to someone else. Now, he said, he gets his own projects where he can confidently see the design from beginning to end.

“Going from an internship to fulltime, it was almost like a trial run for the both of us. My previous experience was in product design or confined to a lab, so I didn’t know then if I would like design for automation. My takeaway is that this is a good fit for me.”

With his professional career ahead of him, there’s a lot to look forward to. “The industry we’re in definitely involves variety,” said TruNorth’s President Kurt Rolling. “If you like new things and learning all the time, this is for you.”

Hoffman had this advice to share, “Take your failures seriously, but don’t be afraid to fail. What we do should be fun. Remember that.”