Archive: Jan 2023
What is it like working as college student with no real professional experience?
To be honest, it can be quite intimidating. At times, I even experienced imposter syndrome, which led me to believe that I was not fully qualified or as competent as I should be. However, I could not have asked for a better opportunity, as E&I quickly helped me realize that I was much more capable and skilled than I thought. My name is Anthony Lippa. I am a senior at RIT studying Electrical Engineering Technology. In May of 2022, I had the wonderful opportunity to join E&I as an electrical engineering co-op. Since then, I have learned many valuable lessons and have been able to experience all sorts of highs and lows that only served to advance my career. In this post, I would like to share why starting my engineering career at E&I was an amazing decision.
With a tightknit team of ten people, it goes without saying that E&I is a smaller company. However, I soon realized that being a part of a smaller company brought forth many benefits for a budding engineer. It was easy to form new relationships within the workplace and I quickly felt comfortable asking questions and striking up conversation with everyone. I was fortunate enough to receive one-on-one training and mentoring from several experienced coworkers, who all genuinely wanted me to succeed at what I did. They all took their time and made sure I completely understood the lesson or assignment before moving onto the next topic, which is something I never took for granted. Additionally, compared to a large company, working at a smaller company led to so many more opportunities and learning moments. I was able to work on a wide variety of assignments such as assembling the amplifiers and their components, RF testing the units, and designing new solutions for customers. Gaining experience in these different areas revealed that each one played a crucial role in the success of the company. I was thankful for the constant opportunities to try new things, as I may have been stuck doing one task or project for months at a larger company.
On the topic of trying new things, E&I also allowed me to attend several trade shows and conferences to learn more about how their amplifiers were being used in the medical industry. We traveled across the nation to events such as the International Symposium of Therapeutic Ultrasound (ISTU) in Canada and the International Symposium of Biomolecular Ultrasound and Sonogenetics (ISBUS) in California. These gatherings were the perfect opportunity to learn more about the field of therapeutic ultrasound and how our products were being applied. E&I’s RF power amplifiers serve to drive ultrasound transducers, which deliver high-frequency waves that are used in a wide variety of applications. If you are not familiar with the science and applications of therapeutic ultrasound, I highly recommend looking into it, as a large majority of the projects and research being done is stuff pulled right out of science fiction! In addition to having my mind blown from all the current medical advancements, I was also able to meet and chat with people from all over the world. They were so passionate about their research and it was refreshing to learn not just about electronics, but medical topics as well.
After seeing the impact that our amplifiers have in the world of ultrasound therapy, my work seemed to hold even greater weight than before and I took every opportunity to learn more while on the job. However, learning came with obstacles (many of them). Projects that posed the most difficulty were those where there was no definitive answer. For example, while troubleshooting malfunctioning units, there was never just an “easy fix”, but rather a whole bunch of possible causes for the problem. Like with any new skill, there were several difficulties in the learning process from overlooking small details to making the problem even worse! However, practice makes perfect, and with enough experience, I formulated a process to analyze the situation and confidently make changes until the issue was resolved. My philosophy is that the best way to learn is to learn what not to do. Rather than looking for the ideal outcome, I prefer to know what might happen if mistakes are made. This approach allowed me to learn very quickly from my mistakes and reduce error. Surprisingly, jumping directly from schoolwork to actual engineering work was not all that different. Having to juggle multiple projects and deadlines gave me plenty of real-world experience that I was missing from college. It was this experience that I needed to prove to myself that I was fully qualified.
During my eight months with E&I, I learned more about the world of electrical engineering than I ever had before. Not only that, but I was exposed to all aspects of a company, ranging from proper meeting etiquette to how international sales work. Undoubtedly, these countless experiences in such a short period of time served to kickstart my career as a new engineer. Ordering electronic parts, documenting changes in procedures, electrical troubleshooting, modifying and revising a circuit… these were all real industry experiences and I was more than capable of accomplishing all of them! It turns out all my hard work and dedication paid off, as I was offered a full-time Design/Application Engineering position for when I graduate! (I obviously accepted.) I could not have asked for a better first engineering experience, as it showed that I had no reason to doubt my ability and gave me a glimpse into my own future as I travel down the long and winding road to become an electrical engineer.