Starting May 15, 2017, I began a co-op with Advanced Automation, which is a sub-company of Doerfer Companies. Advanced Automation (AA, which does not stand for Alcoholics Anonymous in this post) is described as a "supplier of automated process technologies". My simple understanding of the company is that they make custom automated assembly lines. So for example, if Xbox says they want to be able to assemble 720 Xbox controllers every hour, AA would design an assembly line that would take all the parts and put them together using robots. AA has had some big name clients in the past, I'm not sure if I can legally write them here though.
As for what I do at Doerfer: My title is "Controls Engineer." As far as I can tell, the controls engineer's job is to make everything in a project talk to each other. So all the motors, sensors, lights, etc need to be able to be turned on/off with software and a PLC.
Most of my work so far has been related to the HMI for two projects. An HMI is a Human-Machine Interface, which is a fancy name for a screen that you press buttons on to control the machine and see the status of different parts of the machine. My work for HMI's consists of drawing buttons, indicators, and text on a screen and then assigning variables and actions to each indicator and button, so that when you press the "Motor 6 On" button, motor 6 will turn on. A good example of this is adding animations to objects in PowerPoint. It isn't hard to do, but it is tedious and repetitive and time consuming. So while I don't love that part of the job, I also don't hate it.
Recently at work I've been working with the code a little bit more, fixing errors and then eventually integrating the code into the real project. It's been neat to see code implemented that I've worked on, even if I didn't do the main part of it.
One thing I've been enjoying about the working life is having free time after work. I go in, work my 8 hours, but then afterwards I have 4:00-11:00pm to do whatever I want. I've joined a gym and I go there almost every day. I've gone hiking a few times. My parents have a lake property 35 minutes from Greenville, and I go there about once a week to paddleboard and grill and hang out. I've visited other friends' lake houses a few times throughout the summer. I haven't done much photography, but that will change in the fall. Part of the reason is that after staring at computer screens for 8 hours at work, the last thing I want to do at home is sit on a computer again. So that's taken some of the fun out of photography and programming in general.
Overall the summer has been fun so far, and hopefully more fun times are to come. I can't really say that I'm looking forward to working summer and fall semesters back to back, but I think it will be tolerable.