An Interview with an MFCS Royal Oak Engineering Intern

A recent graduate from Royal Oak High School interned with MFCS Royal Oak in summer 2015 after having received an annual engineering scholarship from MFCS. The graduate decided to pursue an internship with MFCS Royal Oak to get a head start on his engineering experience. In the fall of 2015, he entered Hope College in Holland, Michigan as a freshman. He was looking forward to continuing to play football and filling his free time with clubs on campus, ping pong and intramural sports teams.

“What did you like about this internship?”
Coming straight from high school, it was initially intimidating as most of the terminology was alien to me (SPC, Tapping, ICOP etc.). The first thing I was asked to do was work on a new data collection and control system that the Royal Oak team was going to implement in the summer. It was cool to be working on something that was crucial. I liked that MacLean-Fogg focused on my learning.  They made sure that I was having a meaningful experience and not just getting coffee for the higher ups.

Note from mentoring Engineer at Royal Oak, “I was impressed by the grasp this intern had on our business operations and the new system in just a few weeks.”

“What were some of the things you worked on and learned with MFCS Royal Oak?”
The great thing about this internship was that I could have an open conversation and bounce ideas off my mentor engineer and the other engineers. They used some of my ideas and discarded some but either way it was a great way to learn. Because of this, I have a more structured way of developing ideas and they are more bullet-proof. The learning was fast paced and there wasn’t a day when I wasn’t learning.

Having good ideas is one thing and having an idea that you can actually implement is quite another.   An example was the planning that went into the new system. According to the Quality Manager, “Ease and accuracy of data entry is the key to taking the pulse of the production line. We initiated a project to do just that with this new system.”

Even simple aspects like the button size, color etc. were refined iteratively until we were sure that the users (team members) would find them useful. From day one, I was in charge of interacting with the system vendors to manage the Royal Oak plant’s requirements.

Specific examples of attention to detail included:
• Convenient grouping so that measurement checks were easy to do
• Ensuring data collection was as automated as possible even without a keyboard nearby

The user interface was designed to have relevant data at fingertips so that team members would have an incentive to do checks rather than only doing it for compliance. And, it is this focus on ‘incentivize not coax’ that has been my biggest learning in terms of people skills.

“Would you work with MFCS Royal Oak again?”
If given a chance to continue this learning experience, I will definitely do so as this will complement the courses I will take at Hope College.  At the outset, MacLean-Fogg asked me about specific technologies that I would be interested in learning. Based on feedback, the MacLean-Fogg team invested their time in familiarizing me with computer programming and CAD modelling. This gave me a head start before college.

The mentoring Engineer at Royal Oak commented, “I took the role of mentoring very seriously. It is critical for MacLean-Fogg to continue to create an environment that is attractive for talented recruits.”