Dear Mr Scarlett, Thank you again for the reference for my application to Amtech. I ended up being interviewed for the position, and a few weeks later they hired me. I did find my old USB flash drive, and made a portfolio of some of my work, which I think Mr. Coppeck really liked. I have been working for them a little over a month and a half now (just on Fridays for now), and I really enjoy it.
Basically my job is to do a couple of things. The first thing I do is create trim fixtures for fiberglass parts using Solidworks. I take standard steel bar stock, and create a fixture that can fit around a freshly molded fiberglass part. A router is then run around the fixture by hand to cut off all of the excess fiberglass used in the molding process. Drill bushing are also used in some pieces so the production floor can accurately drill holes the correct size, where they need to be every time. If little parts are needed in my trim fixture (like pressed in drill bushings) we usually will order from McMaster-Carr, which is an impressive company that stocks pretty much anything a production plant would need. It is my responsibility to keep the costs low and use readily availiable bar stock and parts.
I first model the part in Solidworks based on drawings we receive from the client company. I then model different pieces of the trim fixture with various offsets and tolerances that are required for the router. I will also design specific plates and drill patterns for the production floor. For example, a windshield washer fluid door that fits on an exterior bus panel requires a separate plate for the router. I then use Solidworks assemblies to fit the trim fixture over the part which is extremely helpful and necessary before we ever send the plans out for production. It is usually easy to spot any potential problems using assemblies. I then create drawings for every piece of the trim fixture that is sent off to a machinist in Yakima. Our own production floor will take the precisely machined pieces and weld them up for a completed trim fixture. I am in communication with the tooling manager, because he can easily spot any issues that may exist with my trim fixtures.
The second thing I do is take drawings from companies that are unclear (some are just poorly drawn) or are just unsuited for our production floor, and create new drawings that our produciton floor can actually use. To do this, I first model the part based on the client drawings. Then it is just a simple task of creating drawings based on the model I made.
The learning curve is very steep, and I am just starting to be a productive member of the design team. They basically just throw work at me with minimal insructions, and I learn by stumbling through the work. They are very helpful in assisting me whenever I have questions. There are four other engineers and a drafter there that all went through the same thing. I am significantly more skilled now then what I was a month and a half ago, and complete a lot of work. I do think it is really cool that I can actually go out onto the production floor any time I want and see a lot of the parts and fixtures I have modeled up in Solidworks.
Some of the larger clients we make parts for are the military (Humvee tops), Genie (all of their fiberclass, 6 semi trucks worth a day), Motive-Power train company (lots of various fiberglass on trains from exterior panels to their bathrooms), Gillig bus company, and a few others that I can’t remember off the top of my head. We also do a lot of small volume custom work for dozens of other companies.
Overall I am very happy with the job, and I think it will provide a lot of valuable experience into Engineering Design work if I chose that kind of career path after I graduate. Hopefully this email will kind of give other students an idea of one of the things that are out there for engineering students.