Few of us know exactly what career we want when we first enter college, and a degree does not guarantee any additional level of certainty once you graduate. Industry experience however, such as the kind found through SciTech internships, is often very influential in helping us decide. Whether it’s for or against, positive or negative, once you’ve tried something, it’s far easier to say with certainty whether or not that “thing” is right for you. In the case of Mechanical Engineering Major, Bryce Erickson, his recent internship helped him confirm that this was his right path.
Erickson is currently on his third year working at GVL Poly, a thermoplastics and rotation molding manufacturer located in Litchfield, Minnesota. He lives nearby their headquarters and first worked with GVL on the manufacturing floor, thanks to local connections from the community. Now rehired as an intern, Erickson is returning to GVL with the chance to apply what he’s learned in school.
“Last year, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do, but I liked the idea of designing the parts here. So, when they offered me the internship, I thought it’d be a good experience, with my background of having worked on the production side of it and then going to the engineering side,” Erickson said. The opportunity to see a part made from start to finish has been especially rewarding. “I like being able to design and finish projects.”
Last summer, Erickson helped reverse engineer designs, created new, more-effective molds, and tested parts. Of all the projects he worked on however, his favorite he said was getting to design and test a dunk tank. “I was able to think up the design on my own. It let me think outside the box and come up with solutions to problems we ran into. Then we had a meeting to go over it, I made some necessary changes before I got it to the finished product.”
By connecting his GVL internship with a summer class he was taking, Erickson was able to add college credit to the hands-on experience he gained. While working on the dunk tank project, he wrote a paper on the process and used the assignment to further-strengthen his professional portfolio.
The benefits of Erickson’s efforts are twofold. Where he’s growing from experience, GVL’s workforce is strengthening as well.
“By hiring interns like Bryce, we can work on projects that we want to work on but otherwise couldn’t,” said Todd Matzke, a design engineer at GVL. “And they get a wide range of design and manufacturing work experience.”
“Here, you’re involved in the process a lot more,” Erickson said. “From the design phase, to working with quality management to seeing the finished product. I’ve really enjoyed it here and I’ve learned a lot over the last couple months. It’s been good to see what works, where I am and what I still need to learn to become a better engineer. When I first started, I knew I wanted to be an engineer but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. But I really like this side of it. It’s made me more sure that this is what I want to do for a living.”
In January, Erickson secured his second internship with GVL and will return to work with them again over the summer.
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