<p>I got an internship offer at a nuclear power plant. The recruiter told me the programs that would be used would be Autocad, some Autodesk software, and Catia. </p>
<p>I was wondering about the difficulty in the learning curves for these programs. I've never had any experience using these, and hope that I won't be the slowest to learn these in the group of interns. I've never taken drafting and only seen Autodesk Inventor for 2 weeks.</p>
<p>The long term summer project would be to create an isometric "map" of the plant, and to read drawings. Do you think this would take the whole summer, considering that there are at least 5 ME interns working with me? Also, would I be working in an office all day with this, or be in the plant? I think sitting in front of the computer and doing CAD all day is kind of tiring .. just wondering what you guys think about this intern position before I commit to it.</p>
<p>We typically don't get interns with a lot of CAD experience. We usually teach them the software that they're required to use. It's sort of part of the deal. Sure, it's a bonus if we get someone who already knows one or more of the many software packages that we use, but it's not always required that you know things ahead of time. We're aware that interns are still students...!</p>
<p>CAD's not too hard to learn. I'm unfamiliar with Catia, being that it's more of a MechE thing, but you'll pick up CAD pretty quickly.</p>
<p>I think it that the employer probably expects that it will take the entire summer... even with five. It sounds like a fairly complex proposition. I would imagine that you'd be spending time in the plant figuring out what exactly it looks like and then you'd go to an onsite office and work from there, but these are all things that you're more than welcome to ask the employer for further details on.</p>
<p>It might be a little tedious, but tedium is kind of the name of the game with internships, more often than not...</p>
can't you get a copy of the program and practice it at home?
<p>Considering the 4K price tag for AutoCAD alone, methinks you're probably not familiar with the software... There are some pretty hefty copy protection measures for all AutoDesk products, and AutoDesk is well-known for whomping software pirates into oblivion using large, merciless lawyers.</p>
<p>They are most certainly illegal. Even if you can get them to work, be very careful about downloading illegal engineering software. Autodesk and others decidedly prosecute anyone who they find with an illegal copy of their software, so if you plan on going into engineering and working for a company, they'll likely be VERY irritable about your piracy. If your company gets audited (which happens regularly) and your computer's on the premises, if there's illegal copies of AutoCAD on there, AutoDesk will prosecute your firm.</p>
<p>It's more than your job is worth to mess around with illegal, otherwise-expensive, engineering suites, because the only way those guys can make money and provide the support they provide is if they protect their copyright. And they protect their copyrights.</p>
<p>Just wait until you get into industry to learn the stuff. They'll teach you how to use the software, they'll <em>provide</em> you with the software, and they'll give you some time to learn how to use it.</p>
<p>Autodesk provides free full versions of most of its software to anybody with a .edu email address. I forget the site... its students.autodesk.com or something similar. If you can't find it, just reply and I'll try to dig it up. It's perfect for practicing, since I'm sure there are links to tutorials and guidebooks on the site since it's targeted towards students. </p>
<p>The only annoying thing is the "STUDENT VERSION" watermark on printouts, but if you're just practicing, it doesn't even matter.</p>
The only annoying thing is the "STUDENT VERSION" watermark on printouts, but if you're just practicing, it doesn't even matter.
<p>Ugh. Okay, I vaguely recall that version being out and about... I found that watermark to be so flipping annoying that I just used the labs at school to do any practicing that I needed to do, which I really didn't... I was taught enough AutoCAD to function at my first internship, and since my former employer had a bad habit of roping its junior engineers into being CAD techs and farming them out to neighboring offices, I feigned complete innocence at any knowledge of AutoCAD and it didn't harm me. In fact, it got me more engineering experience, more than likely...</p>
<p>I really wouldn't worry about practicing, unless you lied on your resume and said that you knew all three software packages, in which case... 1) bad move, dude, and 2) better get crackin'!</p>
<p>I'll put a watermark on everything if I can get it for free, especially if its a $4000 difference. Anyway, one thing to watch out for is that the watermark doesn't go away if you take the student version file and open it on a regular version computer.</p>
<p>btw, it's not critical that you practice, especially if your employer isn't expecting you to know it.</p>
<p>Because eventually we might get a return on our investment. A large chunk of our company's interns end up working for us, and so when we get an intern that really doesn't know a whole lot yet, we can train them in our engineering methods and design procedures. More importanly, we can train them at intern pay rates instead of graduate engineer pay rates!</p>
<p>All new employees have to be trained. Once you start working in the field, you'll start to see that even your upper-division courses just give you the engineering <em>tools</em> you need... the fundamentals, the principles behind engineering, the ideas... they don't tell you really how to <em>apply</em> them in the sort of meaningful way that industry demands you apply them. Even as a graduate engineer with a year and a half of experience, I still constantly ask questions and I'm still considered, even by the state board, to be an engineer-in-training... So, you're not as behind-the-game as an intern with no upper-division courses as you might think you are.</p>
<p>Also, cheap labor. We'll teach the interns how to design some beams and columns and things if they spend the rest of the summer checking shop drawings (requires very little skill, is incredibly tedious, and if you pay attention to what you're doing you can learn a lot about how buildings are put together) so the rest of us don't have to! =D</p>
More importanly, we can train them at intern pay rates instead of graduate engineer pay rates!
<p>Intern = Indentured servant</p>
<p>At my last company, virtually all of the new hires for the past few years have previously worked as in intern with the company. I worked there for 19 months and towards the end I was pretty familiar with the entire traffic engineering process that I could've done pretty much everything a full time engineer did, but at 1/2 the cost. If I had stayed on full-time, I would've hit the ground running. If I went into it not having worked there before, it would've taken me a while to not only learn the concepts and the programs, but the company's standard of practice as well. </p>
<p>Right after my freshman year, I worked a state construction inspector. Yes, they hired me, an 18 year old wide eyed kid who didn't know the difference between concrete and cement, to inspect construction on an interstate. So now you know why the interstate highway is in such bad shape... haha, no I'm kidding. They knew I had no experience going in, but I was dirt cheap, even by government standards. Everybody spent a lot of time training kids like me though so we learned a lot, and they got the benefit from having another body out there without breaking the bank.</p>
we can train them in our engineering methods and design procedures.
How does this work though? Do they gather all the interns, sit you in a classroom, and go over things there? (assuming it's some design or analysis work)</p>
<p>Or you're pretty much over the employer's shoulder and watching the procedures? There sounds like a lot of different responsibilities and projects for interns to work on. How independent was your experience as an intern? Or actually, what did you do?</p>
Or you're pretty much over the employer's shoulder and watching the procedures?
<p>It's not so much that as it's like office hours with a professor. There's a really surprising amount of teaching going on in industry. You're given a quick intro to what sort of things you're going to need to be doing, you'll be shown some procedures and equations that you may or may not be familiar with, you might go through an example, then you'll head back to your desk and work 'til you get stuck, like every other young engineer. You probably get stuck more often, though, but you'll have people around to ask questions to.</p>
<p>Some larger companies have intern orientations and training programs, but most companies it'll probably be a little more individualized. Every project is unique, so everyone goes through a learning curve when they start a new project.</p>
<p>At my current company, there's a formal internship training program, which consists of 3 hours in the main office every one or two weeks. It makes sense because this office has over 700 employees, and there were roughly 50 interns last summer. At the traffic engineering firm that I worked for, it's more like what aibarr described, which was more efficient since during the school year, we usually had about 6 interns all with different schedules. I think we managed to have one formal training session for an hour but that was it. </p>
<p>The way it's been for all the companies I worked for is that interns take baby steps. Learn one thing, try it out, learn step #2, try it out, etc.</p>
<p>In traffic engineering, very few people have extensive training in this area. Most civil engineers take one general transportation engineering course and that's it, so many of the things are taught on the job. I think I learned the most from just being around everybody, picking up little things here and there, and asking questions. Curiosity helps, especially if one of the company's values is knowledge sharing and helping others. </p>
<p>Independence... hmm... it depends how independent you mean. Nobody works lone ever, even the most senior of people. However, in the traffic engineering firm I worked for, I got more independence as I got more experience and as they trusted me more. By independence, I mean that I'm not being micro-managed and I'm given more of a leadership role (the VPs and the project managers always teased me saying my title was Senior Associate Intern because I had been there so long). Towards the end, they just told me what they needed, and I went out there and got it done. If I needed an extra set of hands, they let me take another intern with me. </p>
<p>In the office, interns were usually working on creating CAD drawings from the field data that we collected, checking numbers, writing parts of the final report or creating the presentation to the client. It varied A LOT depending on the needs of the project/client and the availability of the full-time engineers.</p>
you'll be shown some procedures and equations that you may or may not be familiar with, you might go through an example, then you'll head back to your desk and work 'til you get stuck, like every other young engineer.
Would it annoy your mentor if you asked so many questions? Like won't he/she have his own responsibilities, and you'll have to interrupt each time to ask a question?</p>
<p>If the work is difficult, I'm expecting to ask about 5 question/hr. Haha.</p>
Would it annoy your mentor if you asked so many questions? Like won't he/she have his own responsibilities, and you'll have to interrupt each time to ask a question?
<p>A large part of an engineering mentor's responsibilities involves being your mentor. I'd say that well over half of my design manager's time is spent herding around all of us younger engineers (there are three of us on the team) and answering our design questions.</p>
<p>You're going to want to try not to ask five questions per hour, though, obviously. ;) When you get stuck, there'll probably be another facet of your task that you can work on for a while. What I do is I stockpile questions that I run into, and then I bother my design manager about my questions probably once or twice a day. I've gotten so that typically, when I ask a question, it means that I've found a flaw in the work that has been done previously and it's messing me up, or that something's wrong with our proprietary software, or that I'm confirming that I should be looking at a design issue in a certain way. The confirmation sorts of questions are really quick, but the issue-with-previous-design sorts of questions typically end up with my manager gladly dropping everything he's working on and trying to sort it out. </p>
<p>Just yesterday, I was getting some really weird answers that didn't seem at all logical while using a spreadsheet that our company had developed, so I took it to my design manager and we ended up spending an hour and a half going through and figuring out what was wrong with the spreadsheet. We ended up calling the DESIGNER of the spreadsheet in, and HE worked on it with us for half an hour, too. We found a weird part of the spreadsheet that this particular beam just happened to use that was missing a factor and requiring that this particular beam be REALLY heavily reinforced... Fixed the spreadsheet, fixed the problem with the beam design, and learned something new. Everybody benefited.</p>
<p>There's a lot more teaching and collaboration in engineering than I think you think there is. =)</p>