← Back to A day in the life

From a young age, I have always been very passionate about engineering. Math and science were my favorite classes growing up. As I got older, I quickly developed an interest in programming, wiring circuits, and building machines. Being an associate for the Engineering, Technology, and Robotics team has provided me the opportunity to apply all of these skills to projects that add value to our community. In addition, it has also has taught me a great deal about what it means to be an effective leader and project manager.

This semester, I have been working on two projects as the project manager. For the first project, my group worked with a local business named Ramco Innovations to design and build a light curtain sensor system as a demo platform for their potential customers. Ramco is an electronics distributor that sells Panasonic light curtains for use in robotics safety, and the challenge was to develop a portable and compact solution that displays all of the light curtain’s features. The project involved electrical skills for wiring the light curtains and safety relays, mechanical skills for designing a portable and foldable enclosure, and manufacturing skills for assembling the final product.

My second project group was partnered with the Science Center of Iowa, and the goal was to develop a wind turbine exhibit that can show why wind energy is effective in Iowa. The exhibit consists of a wind tunnel and a small turbine that outputs its rotation speed to a screen. Users can select several different options on the screen to see how much wind energy would be produced from wind turbines located at various locations across the country. Users can also read information about the importance of wind energy in Iowa from the display screen. My role in the project was to lead the team that designed and programmed the code for the exhibit. We used a Raspberry Pi to deploy our Python code.

Along with the many technical skills I have had the opportunity to learn and apply, APEX has also taught me a great deal about being a project manager and building effective teams. As project manager, I handled most of the email communication with businesses, led the team and client meetings, kept the team on task, and provided regular status updates on our projects. I have learned a great deal about adaptability and the importance of feedback through APEX, and I think these are skills that will be extremely useful for the rest of my life.