Hello, my name is Leo Kullman. I am a sophomore in Mechanical Engineering and a student in the honors college. I will begin a co-op with Cook Pharmica this fall. In order to meet graduation requirements in a timely fashion, I am taking classes this summer at Purdue West Lafayette. For the Maymester, I took Microeconomics and am now taking Mechanical Engineering Statics and Calculus 3. Summer classes are an interesting experience. The curriculum is sped up twice as fast as the regular semester, but I spend the same amount of time in the class as if I had taken it in the fall. That means the biggest difference is in the time I have to do homework and the time I have to study. For this reason, summer classes can be more difficult that regular semester courses. However, most professors give less homework and comprehensive exams to make up for the accelerated pace.
Overall, I’ve been enjoying my time in these classes. It’s a good way to get ahead or stay on track, and because I’m only taking two courses at a time, I get to focus more on the coursework than in the regular semester when I’m taking many more classes. This has also been a good time for me to meet other co-op students who are taking classes over the summer to also stay on track.
In addition to my summer classes, I’m also working as a student researcher for Dr. Eric Nauman. Dr. Nauman is head of Honors Engineering at Purdue and is in charge of the Seminar for Top Engineering Prospects, a summer camp for incoming high school seniors run by honors engineering. I am working with a team of other honors engineers to develop curriculum for the week long engineering experience. My main duties involve building a hexapod robot, wiring the electronics to be compatible with the tasks we wish to do, and writing code for robot movement using inverse kinematics. All of this while trying to find a way to teach students how to do the same in a matter of days. When the camp begins in mid-July I will be on the Projects Team Staff. This has overall been a very good experience and has let me interact with both professors and upperclassmen researchers.
This summer I’m living in Harrison Hall with a friend from my freshman dorm as a roommate. Living in summer dorms is very different than living in the dorms during the regular academic year. Due to the variety of lengths of summer courses, there are students moving in and out of the dorm every weekend. Also, there are only two dining courts open during the summer, with much more limited hours. The Co-Rec also has shorter hours. However, there are still events to go to during the summer. Every Wednesday there are snacks and games on the Union lawn, every other weekend there are free movies at Fowler Hall, and about once a month there are cookouts for students to eat at and meet new friends. Between class, work, and campus life, I am having a very good experience at Purdue this summer.
I knew that I wanted to be a chemical engineer in research and development since I was nine-years-old. That summer, my mother took me to Take Your Kids to Work Day at Proctor and Gamble, and seeing all of the amazing things that engineers could create to help other people, I realized that I wanted to be just like them. Over the years, that lead to WIEP summer camps and many hours of studying, but when I walked onto Purdue campus as a student for the first time, I knew that it was all going to be worth it. Purdue has given me many opportunities to get to know other women with my passions for helping others and creating new things. In the first semester of my freshman year, I joined the engineering sorority, Phi Sigma Rho. As I started exploring what I wanted to do during the summer after my freshman year, it came down to a big decision: Should I pursue an internship or a co-op? The difference between the two is that an internship is a commitment for only the summer, and a co-op is a commitment to work at the same company for three or five terms (3-5 months each). Internships give more flexibility in where you work, but co-ops give more work experience. Having an older brother who is a chemical engineering student in the co-op program, I was able to ask him about his work, what type of projects he does, and how valued he feels in his job. After a couple months of thinking about it, I decided to co-op, and it has been extremely rewarding even though I am only in my first term.
I now work for Mead Johnson Nutrition Company in Evansville, IN, in their Global Research and Development department. We make Enfamil and the Enfa-brand infant formula. My projects change people’s lives all over the world! I have worked with premature infant formula, which is fed to preterm babies in the hospital, and Nutramagen, a formula for children with special dietary needs. I have already had a business trip to Michigan in order to work with production there. I am a valued employee and am trusted with fairly large projects right out of freshman year in college. One thing that I have learned through this experience is to not be afraid to be wrong or to not understand. I am surrounded by accomplished scientists with their PhDs who are very well versed in the many facets of our products. The key is to not get intimidated. You do not need to know everything, but you do need to be willing to learn and ask many questions. It is better to say when you do not understand than to struggle and not ask for help from those who are willing to explain.
Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions! My address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just a few months ago, I was packing up all my things into my Corolla (a feat of engineering in and of itself) and driving eighteen hours to get to Houston. Now, I’m starting to look around my room in Houston and go “How on Earth am I going to get all of this back to Indiana?” While my friends at Purdue are all starting to study for finals, I’m wrapping up things at work and only have another week left (and only one more paycheck coming). As an engineer, I like lists, so I’ve broken down my experience into the best parts and the worst parts of being on co-op.
The Best Things:
1. The Work – I’ve had an opportunity to learn a lot about both the company I work for and a branch of engineering (technical sales) that I’ve never seen before.
2. The Food – This is entirely subjective, but TexMex and Texan BBQ are some of the best cuisines out there and having it at least once a week is pretty awesome.
3. The Weather – It started off really hot (Over two straight weeks of 100 degree weather), but the temperate finally moderated and I haven’t had to worry about snow at all this semester.
4. The Work (Redux) – Or lack thereof. My job doesn’t have homework. No late nights of working or studying for me.
The Worst Things: (Which Really Aren’t All That Bad)
1. The Social Aspect – In this age of Facebook/Twitter/G+, it’s easy to keep up to date with what is going on with your friends. This is kind of a double edged sword though, as (at least my friends’) posts are always about the best things that are going on at school. You start to miss school.
2. Missing Football Season – We beat Ohio State. Again. We rushed the field. Again. And again, I wasn’t on campus. Eventually I’ll be around for Purdue pulling off a huge upset in football.
Actually, the worst things hardly qualify as needing a list…I am looking forward to a change of scenery and being back on campus in January. Just in time for Big Ten basketball season. Boiler Up!
One of the reasons I chose Purdue was the professional practice program. Every February, over a hundred companies come to Purdue to recruit for freshman and sophomores in engineering to fill roles as co-op students for the next two/three years. You alternate back and forth between school and work each semester and summer, earning money while getting valuable work experience.
As part of my job this semester, I’ve gotten to work with GE in Houston. To better understand how our products work in the field, some people from my engineering team and I went to visit a drilling rig to see the field application of one of our engines. Learned a lot, even if the rig manager gave me a hard time for being an intern.
- For perspective, I’m 5’8″. The engine is about 8′ tall and ~30′ long. Runs off of natural gas and is one of the most efficient on the market (Can you tell I work with Sales and Marketing a lot?)