Emily German ’18 is living proof that childhood passions can be the building blocks to an exciting future. As a senior in the mechatronic engineering program at Vaughn College, German recalls the days that led her to fulfill her dreams and explains how her major at Vaughn helped her land the job of a lifetime.
Building the dream
As a child, German played with LEGO® blocks and was fascinated with how she could put them together to build whatever she imagined. Throughout middle school and high school, she nurtured that passion and discovered culinary arts, where she pursued her interest in becoming a pastry chef.
Seeing how German had a talent for processing and developing designs, her mother encouraged her to take an engineering course in her junior year of high school. She broadened her scope of engineering classes during her senior year and the rest, as they say, is history.
“It all started with a handshake,” German explained. While exploring institutions at a college fair in her senior year, German discovered Vaughn College and said the Vaughn recruiter was the only one who shook her hand. She learned about their mechatronic engineering program and was excited to hear how they offered a curriculum that combined mechanical, electrical and computer engineering―all in one. “It was the perfect fit for me.”
Taking an active role
German wasted no time getting involved on campus. She tapped into her athletic side and joined the tennis, cross country and basketball teams. It was in her leadership roles, however, as president of the Society of Women Engineers, Vaughn Chapter (SWE) and former president of Circle K International, Vaughn Chapter that proved instrumental in furthering her success at Vaughn.
“We heard about an opportunity to attend the Society of Women Engineers (SWE’s) annual conference and career fair,” German said. “Vaughn was generous in funding our trip and the office of career services pulled out all the stops to help us prepare for the conference.”
Opening doors of opportunity in the automotive industry
German was focused on landing an internship at the SWE national conference, but she never could have expected what happened next. With more than 300 companies represented at the conference, German set her sights on companies in the automotive industry. Daimler was at the top on her list when she discovered they were the only company with a mechatronic engineering department. Cialis for prostate problems is prescribed by urologists and andrologists for the treatment of urological pathologies, accompanied by painful urination and erectile dysfunction. This drug not only restores sexual function in men, but also relieves swelling in the tissues of the penis and accelerates blood circulation. Cialis at http://www.pjfperformance.net/cialis-price-online-pharmacy/ has established itself as an effective way of increasing potency (no matter the severity of the inflammatory process).
“I approached the company with my résumé and was excited to discuss my major in the field with them,” explained German. “They offered me the internship on the spot. I truly believe my mechatronic engineering education gave me the upper hand over other applicants. It’s a very specialized area that set me apart from the rest.”
Making the move
Last summer, German moved to Portland, Oregon where she worked for three months at Daimler, streamlining the process of developing new features for their line of trucks. “I worked with the engineering architecture group within the mechatronic engineering department,” German said. “There are about seven groups within the department, and I expanded my scope to gain a better understanding of how each engineer’s task serves a larger function.” She said she realized then how the knowledge she gained at Vaughn was instrumental in how she applied it in the real world.
Landing the job
German returned to Vaughn this fall to begin her senior year. She was shocked to receive an email from her internship supervisor at Daimler. “He asked me to call him as soon as possible,” German said. “I didn’t know what to expect. I had a knot in my stomach.”
German was offered a full-time position at Daimler after graduation next spring. To add to her surprise, her manager said she could choose her position within the mechatronic engineering department. “I have Vaughn to thank for welcoming me so warmly at the college fair and being there every step of the way since then to help carve the path to my future.”
Scientists and robotics experts at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California are developing an origami-inspired robot named PUFFER to explore areas in space that are too risky for full-fledged rovers. Its design is described as a lightweight, pop-up folding explorer that can flatten itself and tuck in its wheels, allowing maneuverability into places that rovers can’t go. Just like the origami art of paper folding, PUFFER’s design allows these microbots to be flattened like cards and stacked one on top of the other.
PUFFER was put to the test during the past year-and-a-half in areas that ranged from the rugged terrain of the Mojave Desert in California to the snowy hills in Antarctica in the hopes that it will someday make it to the sands of the planet Mars. It’s designed to move up 45-degree slopes and investigate overhangs as a companion to larger robots. It can even drop into pits or craters, go behind sand dunes, and explore steep slopes―taking exploration to hard-to-reach locations.
“They can do parallel science with a rover, so you can increase the amount you’re doing in a day,” said Jaakko Karras, the project manager at JPL. It was Karras who was experimenting with origami designs while he was in grad school at UC Berkeley’s Biomimetic Millisystems Lab. He came up with the robot’s body design as he worked on developing robotics that were based on natural forms ch as the movements of animals and insects.
How PUFFER Was Made
It took a collaborative effort to get the robot to where it is today. Robotics experts and scientists at JPL worked together to create the microbot, and partnered with outside experts to fine-tune specific movements and abilities. The four wheels were created on a 3D printer, and gained treads that allow the robot to climb inclines. The origami design allows the wheels to fold over the main body, giving PUFFER the ability to crawl. Biomimetic Millisystems Lab developed a “skittering walk” that ensures the bot inches forward, one wheel at a time, without slipping. Distant Focus Corporation lent sight to the project, providing a high-resolution micro-imager which can see objects that are a fraction of the diameter of human hair.
Solar panels on PUFFER’s belly keep the microbot on the move and allow it to flip over to recharge in the sun. It can move about 2,050 feet (625 meters) on one battery charge driving on a level dirt path. Depending on the number of onboard instruments, that distance may fluctuate. Currently, it operates via Bluetooth and can be controlled remotely. Advances in robotics and engineering have enabled it to act as a scientist in its own right with the addition of an instrument that allows it to sample water for organic material. The team says a spectrometer could also be added to give it the ability to study the chemical makeup of its environment.
PUFFER’s future is looking bigger and brighter as the JPL team envisions future designs to be as large as a breadbox and possibly autonomic―allowing more than one microbot to conduct science as a mobile team.
What may have once been thought of as science fiction may soon become science fact. The JPL team is hopeful their robot may someday be partnering on future planetary missions, as its composition includes several Mars-compatible materials, including heritage technology from the Viking, Pathfinder and Phoenix missions. “Small robotic explorers like PUFFER could change the way we do science on Mars,” said Karras.
Don’t miss the change to learn more about Vaughn’s engineering, technology, management and aviation programs at our Open House on Saturday, November 11 and 18. Space is limited – reserve your spot today!
The PUFFER project is a Game Changing Development (GCD) program. The project is managed by JPL. The GCD program investigates ideas and approaches that could solve significant technological problems and revolutionize future space endeavors. GCD is part of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.
College students know firsthand the struggle of making ends meet. Balancing both school and work seems to be the norm for most students these days, so knowing the best ways to excel at both can provide students lasting benefits for their future. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. In fact, nearly 80 percent of students work at least part-time to help offset rising tuition costs and expenses. Not to mention, it gives their parents’ wallets a break.
So, how to balance work and college? Here are some real-life tips to help you keep your college life in balance while working:
- Find a flexible job—Search for a job that has flexible hours. Be upfront with your manager about your class schedule, especially during mid-terms and finals when you’ll need extra study time. Knowing your schedule in advance will not only help you manage your study time, but will enable your manager to adjust your shift to accommodate when you can work.
- Find an on-campus job—Working on campus is a home run for college students. They have the luxury of staying on campus and going to their jobs either before or after class, without the hassle of commuting.
- Ask professors for work—Some professors hire students to help them with outside projects. This is a great way to earn extra money while getting hands-on experience in your field.
- Take online classes—Online classes are a gift for students who need to work more hours and who are dedicated to earning their degrees. It frees up valuable time and offers students the flexibility of working at their own pace without being married to a set class schedule.
- Find a job/internship related to your major—Internships or jobs in your field can offer invaluable experience for your future. They can offer insight to help you determine if a field is a good fit for you. Some students may realize after working a specific job that it wasn’t the right choice for them. Alternately, other students find their niche and go on to pursue that career.
Working while in college can be a bit overwhelming for some students, so it’s important to set goals. If you think that working now isn’t worth it, just remember the time you are currently putting in will pay off later when you graduate with little or no debt. You’ve got this.
For more of the latest innovations in aviation, engineering, management and more―check out the Vaughn College monthly newsletter. (Sign up below.)