Interning at General Motors

by Ashley Devore

This summer, I interned at General Motors in Lockport, NY.  As an environmental and ecological engineer, I never thought I would end up working for a car company; cars emit carbon dioxide which kind of goes against the goals of environmental engineers.  But, as I learned more about General Motors as a company, I found that they are actually very conscious of their environmental footprint and the impact their actions have on the environment.  The plant I worked at this summer is so environmentally friendly, that they have met the requirements to be classified as a land-fill-free facility! 

As an environmental engineering intern, I worked on a number of projects.   I assisted with meeting compliance measures, such as doing tests to make sure the plant was meeting certain air requirements, and making sure the used-oil containers had the proper labels.  Compliance is important to sustainability because in order to do great and amazing sustainability projects, you have to meet the compliance measures first. 

Another project I worked on was developing a plan for my site to get certified with the Wildlife Habitat Council.  The Wildlife Habitat Council is an organization that honors and recognizes companies and organizations that are implementing projects that aim to preserve wildlife and their habitats.  My site was looking to get re-certified next year, and wanted me to develop a plan for them do so.  Creating this plan involved me researching projects, figuring out how to implement them, learning about the certification process with the Wildlife Habitat Council, and writing a report detailing my proposed plan.  This project was really cool to me because it incorporated a lot of sustainability principles that I learned in my classes. 

I am so glad that I got the opportunity to intern with General Motors.  This was my first internship, so I definitely learned a lot about environmental engineering and what it is like to work as a professional.  In addition, I was also able to learn more about what my interests are professionally and career wise.  Interning is a great way to discover what your future career interests are and to learn more about what sort of things you might be doing in a full time job. 

Graduating Advice by Catherine Willis

*Originally posted on *

You know the feeling on the last day of vacation when you need to cram in all the activities you’ve missed? That’s how the last semester of college seems to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve taken part in tons of the opportunities that Purdue has to offer, but there are always so many more!

This December I graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering and minors in Spanish and Aerospace Studies. Although those are just words for my future diploma, there are so many memories and experiences attached to them. For example, when I showed up on campus my freshman year, I was dead set on Chemical Engineering. One month later I discovered Aero was my passion. And when I started Spanish classes and three years later completed my minor living with a host family in Madrid. And when I walked into the Armory my freshman year and joined Air Force ROTC. All of these experiences have sculpted not only my college memories, but my professional future and ultimately who I am as I cross the stage at graduation.

As I reflect on my time spent at this wonderful university, I am reminded of the many ways I’ve been able to make these years the best of my life.

Get involved. This is probably the most important “skill,” if you will, that I have learned at Purdue. Too many times I’ve seen students wait for the “right time” or a “lighter class load” to get involved in the organizations that they are passionate about. Let me tell you, the “right time” is the moment you set foot on campus, and your “lighter class load” may never come. Participating in these clubs, learning communities, or other organizations will allow you to network and gain the friends and experience that will make college so much easier. I owe it all to the people I met when I decided to get involved.

Do your best. You may have heard the saying by Abraham Lincoln, “Whatever you are, be a good one.” Whether you’re concerned about your studies, your sorority, or your sports performance, doing your hardest work leaves no room for regret. This takes some prioritization skills—we’re only human and can’t be the very best at everything—but doing your best will always be good enough. (Hint: When you don’t think it’s good enough, ask for help! Office hours and tutors can be extremely helpful.)

Make time for fun—and sleep. Often the pressure of school can seem overwhelming, but everyone burns out eventually. Pulling all-nighters on a weekly basis is probably not going to help you, or your grades. So put down the books once in a while and enjoy yourself. You’d be amazed what a little R&R can do for you!

I am so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had as a Purdue student, and I’m excited for you to enjoy them too! Work hard, be yourself, and Boiler Up!

SWE’s Team Tech

Team Tech's Prototype
Team Tech’s Prototype

My name is Lindsay Piispanen and I am currently a sophomore in Industrial Engineering. Last year, as a freshman, I was really interested in gaining experience with some hands-on application of what I was learning in class. We had several projects in my engineering class, such as building a robot, but I wanted to work on a project that might actually be used or implemented somewhere. Not having many ideas about where to look for this type of technical experience, I did some research online about clubs here at Purdue that might offer what I was looking for. I quickly found out that the Society of Women Engineers was forming a Team Tech, a small engineering team that is made up by members of SWE, and the first one at Purdue. At the callout for SWE, I was able to sign up for the team and meet with the chair who was leading the project.  We get a company sponsor and complete a project for them throughout the course of the year, and compete with other schools at the end of our projects. This past year, Archer Daniels Midland Company sponsored us and we created a prototype of a water filtration system that could help lower the concentration of nickel in their wastewater streams. The team started in January and just finished this with the competition at Annuals a few weeks ago in Nashville.  It was especially exciting to see a project go from brainstorming to actual models and testing. So if you are looking for fun technical engineering experience, joining Team Tech just might be for you!

Learning that Internship Lingo

a panoramic picture taken by me of FedEx Ground’s corporate headquarters in Moon Township, PA
a panoramic picture taken by me of FedEx Ground’s corporate headquarters in Moon Township, PA

I am a sophomore in Industrial Engineering, my name is Marissa, and I bet you will not pronounce my first name correctly on the first try. It took a whole month for my coworkers this summer to get it right.

I never thought I would be writing this. I never thought I would have gotten the chance to intern the summer after my freshman year especially one so close to home. I never thought that I would be so lucky to get an internship that was so rewarding and beneficial where I did not mind some weird hours and where I did not want to leave. But I did. It was hard work to get the job, and I could not have been happier. On one of my first days, someone remarked that I was the least connected, because I did not have an “in” to the company – I wasn’t a relative or neighbor of an executive. I liked it that way, it set me apart.

I started my internship on June 1st, 2015, in the Field Engineering Support team of FedEx Ground’s Inbound Operations of the Operations and Engineering Department. From the beginning, everyone kept telling me I would be working on an important project but they kept using all kinds of words and abbreviations that I could not even guess the meaning. There was an entire language for FedEx employees and I was being thrown head first into it. I did not know what a DOES was, or what a DPOS did either (at first I thought it was depots, because I only heard it verbally) but I did know that my team directly supported the DPOS, whatever that meant. And, of course, there were DAQs, and IOES, and HODES. It took me a while, but I eventually got used to and understood the lingo. On my second to last week, I learned that there was a dictionary for all of the FedEx acronyms – I wish I knew that the first week.

When I first got into  actual work and was not just meeting more people, I did a lot of reading. For my big project I had to read, study, and understand MOST Work Measurement – and since I had not been in any major-specific classes yet, I did not know anything about work measurement. I spent two weeks really studying up on it and then implementing it through practice examples around the office. At the time it seemed that I was not being used to my full advantage, but that quickly changed. I started going to stations, which are the intermediate stops before a package arrives at its destination, to see how the employees work at their 4 am sort of packages to be delivered that day. I took notes on their body movements and maneuvers and noted if they should have been doing anything  differently. I took these notes back to the office, and started to implement MOST. I went to stations six different times, and typically had to be there by 4 am. Some stations were more than an hour away! What really excites me about this project was that I was able to talk directly to people in the field – my cousin included – and the results I calculated are going to be used as the new company standard. I was there for not even three months, and I am changing a forever-used standard. That really hit me. I never thought a measly intern like myself could make a difference in such a large company.

Overall, my internship at FedEx let me learn and experience so much in one summer. At the very least, I learned Visual Basic code through automating reports and MOST Work Measurement through creating new standards, both of which I hope will help me in my future industrial engineering classes. I received hands-on industrial engineering experience that bettered my understanding of industrial engineering practices. I witnessed how a large company works and its culture of, in this case, a family-like atmosphere. I loved almost every second of my internship, and I am so thankful for the opportunity. If nothing else, I met some great people in my fellow interns, co-workers, and other people in the company that I hope to stay connected with for a long time.

Interning at Cook Biotech by Missy Ullmer

Cook Biotech Interns travel to Bloomington, IN, to join the rest of the Cook company interns across the U.S. for the annual Intern Orientation.
Cook Biotech Interns travel to Bloomington, IN, to join the rest of the Cook company interns across the U.S. for the annual Intern Orientation.

As the spring 2015 semester came to a close, I was looking forward to my first summer spent in West Lafayette since beginning my college career in 2012.  I loved exploring Chicago the summer before during my internship, but there was something exciting about staying near my church family and friends for the summer.  After the semester ended, I packed up for home to take a break for a couple weeks before beginning my internship at the end of May.  (I advise everyone to take weeks off as the opportunity arises because although you may be ambitious, you will never have the same kind of time off when you start your full-time career.)  Returning two weeks later, I began my adventure as a Quality Assurance Intern at Cook Biotech.  Within the first few weeks of the internship, it was apparent that the Quality department not only hired me to aid them in incoming inspection but truly lead a project which other employees did not have time to complete.  I was given project aims and information about the resources which were available, and I was given great freedom to seek out more resources and information.  By the end of the summer, I gained a passion for something new, Quality and Process Development.  I would have never found the opportunities which lie outside of design or R&D if I had not been willing to try a new position.  What else helped me find this new passion, you may wonder? Below are a few tips that I found helpful during my past two internships:

Journal your experiences:  Each day spend a few minutes noting anyone you met and all of the positive and negative parts of your position or the company.  This will help  when you need to contact someone for help as well as narrowing down your expectations for the company you begin with full-time.

Talk to as many employees as possible:  Set up meetings with anyone

My final presentation day at Cook Biotech.
My final presentation day at Cook Biotech.

you meet to learn more about their position as well as their route to success.

Take a notebook everywhere:  You never know when someone will provide you with useful information to complete your project or for more information about their position.

Now I look forward to further exploring opportunities in Quality and Process Development!  Companies may not always hire engineers in other departments, but if you are willing to sell yourself and explain why you believe you are qualified for the position, almost any company will consider you for a position outside the “norm.”  Thank you to Cook Biotech and my supervisor for all of their guidance and advice as I move toward a full-time career.

International Graduate Q&A: Question 7

What advice do you have for potential or current international students pursuing an engineering degree?

Brandon Puccio -AAE Graduate: The advice I would give is to follow your passion. I came to Purdue knowing I wanted to be an aerospace engineer and I followed through. There were times where I wasn’t sure if it was worth it. There were times where recruiters said an international student would never get a job in the aerospace industry. Instead of giving up I used that as motivation. Not only should an incoming engineering student thrive for good engineering skills and theory, they should always try to perfect communication, group, and leadership skills.   Use the resources that Purdue gives you. Explore the different types of engineering classes Purdue has to offer, and do not be afraid to take a class or two that spark a non-engineering related interest. It is not abnormal to feel overwhelmed and want to quit. The engineers that deserve to graduate and the engineers that will excel will not quit. They will work hard and pull through it. It is important to have confidence in yourself. Any experience can greatly increase your chances of being successful.

Siddharth Chhabra – IE Graduate: Dive deep into a specific area of engineering in order to become specialized in that field.  Develop an early understanding of things out there that inspire you and visualize how to implement a success like that in the same or other fields.

Xianzhe Zhou – ECE Graduate: There is more than one way to get from one place to another. Personally being an engineer not only means having expertise in a field that most people do not have, but more importantly, having a vision and mindset that only engineering training can equip you. This vision and the mindset will help you acquire new skills and develop them quickly in the future. Moreover, respect all fields and learn about their worlds. As an engineer, you will have to cooperate and collaborate with people from different background in order to produce the optimum solution to a problem.

Niharika Chaubey – Chem. E Graduate: I think the biggest advice would be make connections, make as many connections as you can. Enhance your skill set with computer languages, leadership, and other spoken languages. I would also suggest applying for internships and co-ops whenever you can; it’s never too early to apply. Also build a strong LinkedIn profile and USE it.

Sajit Chitty – IE Graduate: An engineering degree takes a lot of responsibility and discipline to obtain. The same can be said for many other technical degrees. However, it is important to stay focused and dedicated from the start, because everything you learn in engineering is built up from fundamental or core courses, and a strong foundation in these courses is necessary to excel. I would also like to say that there is nothing wrong with not being sure with what type of engineering degree you would like to obtain once you are attending college. Purdue has a fantastic first year engineering program that allows students to get significant exposure to currently offered engineering disciplines so that they are better informed when the time comes to choose. Furthermore, you should be going out of your way to speak to friends, acquaintances, or family who currently hold jobs in the field of engineering that has peaked your interest in order for you to develop an idea of what you will eventually be doing.

A New Era

Grissom Hall, home of industrial engineering at Purdue, was recently renovated and reopened this year for students and faculty after a year of reconstruction. The renovations of Grissom Hall are part of the College of Engineering Strategic Growth Initiative project which is working towards increasing the number of students in the College of Engineering while also expanding opportunities and technology resources. The new renovations now allow for student collaboration, workspace, and a multitude of new technologies and resources available to the students and faculty. Although the total renovation time was short, less than a year, the new changes will leave an impact on students and the way they learn for many years.

Alyssa sitting outside of Grissom Hall

Alyssa Zielinski is a fifth-year senior from Arlington Heights, IL studying Industrial Engineering. We asked her a few questions about the renovations of Grissom Hall.

What are some major changes that you noticed about Grissom Hall after the renovation?

Overall, the building is more open. There aren’t any little offices around anymore; it’s now an open and collaborative learning space. People can interact with each other and that is something I’ve definitely noticed. You don’t have to wander through the hallways to get around rooms and classrooms. 

What do you think is the most important change to Grissom Hall? What is your favorite change?

The newly renovated inside of Grissom Hall

The most important changes in the building are the updates. Before, Grissom Hall felt closed, cramped, and felt clustered – it didn’t feel like you could work with each other very well. Now there is a more interactive space for people to work with each other. My favorite change is probably the collaborative space studios. They can be used for interviews, small study groups, and group projects. The renovations allow for Industrial Engineers to have a space for themselves.

How has the atmosphere of Grissom Hall changed?

They are trying to focus on this new era of education where things are interactive and open and people are focusing on working with each other. The renovations to Grissom Hall make this a possibility.

Do you plan on spending more time in Grissom Hall now that it is renovated?

Oh, absolutely! Before, I never felt like Industrial Engineers had a space for themselves. Now Industrial Engineers have a designated study space for themselves where they can feel at home and feel like this is their space. So I definitely plan on spending more time here.

How will this renovation change the way you study Industrial Engineering?

The renovations are going to help me study Industrial Engineering better because it gives us a space for ourselves and I can wonder around and find another Industrial Engineer that is in the same boat as me. I have a designated place I can go to study or work with others.

My Internship Experience, by Meredith Shannon

At the end of this past May, I stuffed my car full of my belongings and drove up to southern Minnesota for the 11 week program as an Industrial Engineering Intern. I knew what the internship program entailed and the basic job description but my summer turned out to be so much more than that. My job took place in a massive plant that felt on par with a small city. I could hardly keep from getting lost and seemed to discover something new every day. As the plant IE intern, I had typical Industrial Engineering duties but was also included on a variety of high dollar projects. I was able to help work on new, old and ongoing projects with people from all different departments. They treated me as one of their own and it made a world of difference. I learned a lot about myself; what I can do, what I excel at and what I need to improve upon as an upcoming Industrial Engineer. Things were excitingly dynamic which made going to work an adventure each day. I felt as if I learned something new each day and never felt work become repetitive. Although plant life is far from glamorous, the hands on work that turned into successful projects far outweighed not being able to wear nail polish, having to wear functional clothes over fashionable clothes and never maintaining nice hair (hard hat hair is definitely a struggle). My takeaway from summer with Hormel is don’t ever be afraid to try something out of your comfort zone. I started as a city girl with little to no manufacturing experience and spent the whole summer outside of my comfort zone. Industry seems scary to those who have little experience, but it is incredible to have your projects and hard work pay off in an observable and tangible manner. As IR week comes to a close, don’t discredit companies who may seem intimidating or out of your desired work setting! You never know where the path less traveled may lead.

International Graduate Q&A: Question 6

What advice do you have for other international students pursuing internships and full-time employment?

Sajit Chitty – IE Graduate: Your summer is the most important “semester” of all! Why? Because summers are the only time you will have the opportunity to sample full-time work experience in your field of interest. Especially for international students, your chances of full-time employment after graduation are much more favorable if you have U.S work experience. U.S work experience will hold more weight than work experience in your home country. Do not make the typical mistake of heading home every summer to party with your friends because you just survived a winter in Indiana. I know this is easier said than done, and I agree that it is hard to seize an opportunity for U.S work experience without already having…U.S work experience. Although, the chance of a company giving you an internship opportunity is higher than the chance of a company giving you a full-time position. So, put on a suit and go to every single career fair that comes your way from freshman year, and, network, network, network. You should be building up a professional network, not only when at career fairs, but throughout your entire college career and beyond.

Brandon Puccio -AAE Graduate: The advice that I would give to other international students is to work harder than the person beside you. Because of the limited opportunities for international students, you have to be at the top of your game to get an employment opportunity. Not only do you have to have a great knowledge of your specialty, you need to have good communication and teamwork skills. Use the resources Purdue offers to gain an upper edge compared to other students. Research the companies that allow international employment and show them that you have a passion to work for them. I have been to the Purdue Industrial Roundtable as both a student and a recruiter. The company that I work at looks for three main things when at career fairs: good knowledge in your subject area, good communication while talking to the recruiter, and extracurricular activities that set you apart from someone else. If you have a passion for what you are studying, you have to show it when you talk to the people interviewing you.

Siddharth Chhabra – IE Graduate: Do not let the immigration issues deter your efforts and motivation to pursuing your dream.  Rely on peers and faculty for advice and opportunities.  Take full advantage of resources available ISS, CCO, etc.).

Xianzhe Zhou – ECE Graduate:  Finding internships and full-time employment is essentially finding a match between the supply and demand curve in the labor market. You are selling your skills to meet the labor demands of employers, which ultimately come from this society and all its consumers. Having two things will ease the matching process. One is information and the other is data. You need to know where most of the opportunities will be, such as companies, locations and policy restrictions. This is the data part. Knowing information means reaching potential employers in their channels. Networking, putting yourself online and calling someone you don’t know are all ways you can reach these opportunities.

Niharika Chaubey -Chem. E Graduate: To the international students who are pursuing internships and fulltime position, work hard because you will always have more to prove than domestic students.

SWE Senior Sleepover

My name is Katherine Rothe, and my first year at Purdue, I joined the Society of Women Engineers to connect with other young women in engineering. The great thing about SWE is that there are plenty of opportunities to be involved, and one of the best ways is to be a hostess for Senior Sleepover. Every fall and spring, SWE hosts a group of high school seniors looking at Purdue for engineering.
Being a hostess honestly made me wish I had done senior sleepover while I was trying to decide where to go. It is an opportunity to get the college experience for 24 hours: going to classes, sleeping in a dorm room, eating in a dining court. But there are plenty of other opportunities to have fun during the Senior Sleepover, from activities with the other girls to scavenger hunts for iconic Purdue landmarks. 
A group of my friends decided to be hostesses together last year, and all of us had so much fun showing off our beautiful campus to prospective students. Senior Sleepover is a great experience for both future and current students. 
This year’s Senior Sleepover will take place November 13th-14th. The Senior Sleepover Chairs are looking for female engineering students to help out with the event. Hostesses are required to live in the dorms, but there are plenty of other ways to get involved besides hosting!
If you’re interested in volunteering, as either a hostess (both days or just Friday), or as a day volunteer (Saturday only), you can sign up here: 
If you have any questions about Senior Sleepover, please email Mallory Slavis at, or Amy Cox at 

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