A Look Back on the Summer: Perspective and Insights From our Interns, Blog Post
May is a special month for WCCO Belting as we welcome several interns to our facility. Each student begins with a week of hands-on training since meeting our employees and absorbing our culture is just as important to their success as learning what we make and sell to the world. The truth of this is reflected in their perspectives and insights they shared with us as the season came to a close just a few weeks ago.
The four engineering interns who joined our team for three short months included:
- Jenna Glass, majoring in mechanical engineering at North Dakota State University (NDSU), who served as a quality engineering intern
- Cole Lacko, majoring in industrial engineering at NDSU, who served as a mechanical engineering intern
- Gabe Lothspeich, majoring in mechanical engineering at NDSU, who served as a product development intern
- Nicole Stoltenberg, majoring in mechanical engineering at NDSU, who served as an operations intern for the mechanical engineering team
Read on to learn more about their experience and how they’ve grown during their time with WCCO Belting’s teams.
What was your first impression of WCCO Belting?
“My first impression of WCCO was that it has a very friendly, energetic atmosphere and that interns are a valued part of the team. I had many people introduce themselves on day one and let me know that they were available whenever I had questions during the summer,” said Gabe, who worked with WCCO’s business development team. Cole similarly commented, “When I first got here, I immediately noticed how welcoming everyone was. I wasn’t expecting everyone to be so happy and upbeat. I could tell that the people here would be patient as I learned the manufacturing processes.” From Nicole, “My first impression of WCCO was that everyone seemed to really enjoy their jobs and the company.”
What projects did you work on?
While Nicole said she worked on a few different design and lean projects with the operations team, Jenna supported WCCO’s quality department. “I was given the freedom to explore different ways of improving inspection processes. This involved talking with everyone from operators to machinists to determine what would work and how to best make the changes.” Gabe also tackled a wide variety of projects over the summer with WCCO’s product development engineers, “I created prototypes and conducted tests for potential expansions of WCCO’s belt offerings. I designed equipment for the company’s use at tradeshows, and I used Solidworks to model and create drawings.” At the same time, Cole shared how it was a valuable learning experience for him to work directly with operators in accomplish his project goals that were aimed to increase productivity, safety, and quality.
What did you learn?
Cole told us he learned a lot from his experience as part of the WCCO Belting team. “Not only did I learn a lot about how belts are manufactured, but I also learned a lot about the engineering process as a whole. I also strengthened several key skills that are integral to engineering such as time management, project management, design, and analytical skills.” Nicole also said, “I learned a lot this summer. How to use Solidworks, the process that products go through before being shipped out, the importance of getting operators’ input, and a confidence in asking questions.”
Rubber is all around us, but it never ceases to amaze new employees. “I learned more about rubber than I ever thought I’d know! I also learned just how important quality is in a manufacturing environment. WCCO prides itself on making high quality belts. It’s very interesting to see the inspection process at each step and learn about the different ways we can ensure our belts meet expectations,” said Jenna. And Gabe agreed, “I didn’t know a lot about rubber before starting at WCCO, so I definitely learned a lot about that! I also developed skills that will be useful in any company I could potentially work for, like product development, using Solidworks, how to communicate with other departments, and how to balance multiple projects at a time.”
What is the biggest takeaway from your internship?
Each intern had a different takeaway at the end of their experience, from learning about teamwork in a true business environment to Nicole sharing how she gained confidence in her own ideas and asking questions. “My biggest takeaway is that feedback and collaboration are important aspects of a project. Asking for opinions and working with others are great ways to get inspiration,” said Jenna. Cole gained a new perspective for the tools he’s learning at NDSU, “Engineering in the real world is a lot different than what college makes it out to be. In college courses, you don’t get a full idea of what working in an engineering environment will be like, but rather, they just give you the tools you need to succeed in said environment.”
What are you doing next?
All of WCCO’s summer interns in 2021 are returning to NDSU to continue in their studies. Nicole plans to continue working part-time at WCCO through the school year, and Cole mentioned seeking a full-time career in manufacturing following graduation.
WCCO Belting and its teams honor the opportunity to provide students with real-life experience in the profession they are studying in school. The mutually beneficial relationship helps us garner new perspectives, supports our teams, helps the students determine if the educational path they have decided to take is the right one for them, or helps them identify a specific area that excites them. To Nicole, Jenna, Cole and Gabe, we appreciate your hard work and wish you luck this school year and beyond.