Bwere, Daniel E. September 27th, 2020.


February 2020

So here I am prepping with my friends for the Lemelson Engineering Internship interview come summer 2020. I’m just in my headspace all-reaching for an internship position abroad, preferably at Rice University in the United States. 

I got through with an internship position at Malawi. That’s still great considering the need for exposure I long for from abroad and I’ve never been abroad-at least in my grown-up awareness. 

Here comes, Corona and stuck we are wherever we are. The insecurities and chaos brought about by the pandemic was and still is something none can fathom. Thus,  internships have to be conducted virtually. Unfortunately, at our University, we couldn’t adhere to the 40-hour week routine of working virtually while carrying on with the ongoing syllabus. So we had to drop the internship till our Industrial Practical Training come September. 

September 2020

Our field training began mid-September with lots of new faces, approaching a dozen I presume. We gather around our instructor, Julia, the passionate engineer and fast instructor . She outlines and elaborates what we will be doing for the coming 8 weeks in the DIT Design Studio as part of our Industrial Practical Training. 

So as you can guess as the title goes, I am not new to the studio. And so the outline feels very redundant to me. But Julia says, “there’s lots for you to do too!”. Well, I didn’t expect much. 

There the list goes:

  • Test soldering irons
  • Clean the laser machinery
  • Troubleshoot broken Arduino Uno’s
  • And so forth…it goes. Well, yeah. It’s a technician’s list, aye? Hehehe I fancy it though.

I begin with the soldering irons, turns out at least all of them are broken with one being feasibly replaceable in our locality. The tips had burned out (oxidation and other metallic processes) making the tips not work well on melting the solder wire. I went to buy several tips, only to find out 40W tips were the only available compared to the multitude of 30W tips we had (well, not exactly a multitude-just 5 out of 7). I was disappointed to say in the least, but at least we got one to work with. So that one was fixed, and more recommendation was given to Julia on the concerns of proper use of soldering irons (as far as I researched on proper use of them, and realized we were kinda rushing them to their burnout) and also better soldering stations.

Next, for the sake of coding, I chose to troubleshoot the Arduinos as I really love coding. It turns out we had two versions of the Arduino Uno boards from different vendors. And one version seemed to be dying out earlier. So this one Wednesday as Julia is teaching the new interns some basic Arduino skills, almost a quarter of the interns had at least a single problem with the Arduino board or computer they had. Some problems would be easier as deleting all the Arduino libraries in the “C:/” Arduino folder got it working, while others had involved further Uno board troubleshooting. I came to realize, I liked the troubleshooting experience far better than I had initially presumed. The things one has to go through to successfully troubleshoot are so enlightening on different aspects for one to just learn in a quick initiation of Arduino skills. Well, I played around, tinkering the Uno boards, trying to reflash the firmware, even tried some hackable firmware like Optiboot. At the end of the day, nothing was fruitful. I was mentally exhausted, but the amount of new stuff I had just learned over the whole troubleshooting process was satisfying enough to counter the exhaustion. 

I can say, I kind of love being a helpful technician (yes, I’m an intern). It gets me lots of new concepts and a whole lotta bigger perspectives on the basic ideas I learned from the DIT Design Studio in my last internship of summer 2019.

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