Christina

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Year of Graduation:  2013

Growing up as the oldest of six kids on a farm, I became my dad’s “right hand man” to help him fix, build, or troubleshoot things. These experiences sparked my interest in how things worked. When I was 12 years old, my parents gave me a Lego Mindstorms robotics kit. This was the first time that I was introduced to programing as well as gears, motors, and sensors. I was eventually able to go to the Illinois State Fair in 4-H with the robotic seeder that I constructed from the kit. I continued my love for robotics when I joined a rookie FIRST robotics team in my hometown during my senior year of high school. As the team captain and mechanic, I learned many real world applications of robotics while I gained experience in manufacturing as well. As I graduated high school, I looked for a career path that I could utilize my love of robotics and problem solving skills. I found these qualities in mechanical engineering.

What are your favorite subjects?

I enjoy the classes that involve some level of computer programming and/or design. I enjoyed C++ Programming, Computational Methods, Mechanical Systems Lab, Auto Controls, and Sr. Design. I really enjoyed these classes because they use computers to model real world situations. I look at computer programs as a puzzle to be solved, like a Sudoku or jigsaw puzzle. Coupling this computer process with physical systems is the basis for robotics and automation.

What would you like to do with your degree? What would be your dream job?

Since high school I have been interested in robotics and automation. To me these fields bring a mechanical system to life, which I find very intriguing. One of my dream jobs would be to create robotic prosthetics for people who have amputated limbs. This job would be extremely rewarding to me because I would not only be doing what I love with automation, but I would be making a difference in many people’s lives. I am starting my path to a career in robotics as I will be working for Dematic after graduation. Dematic designs and manufactures automated material handling equipment. I am excited to discover what I will learn in this engineering position.

Did you go on co-op or study abroad? If so, what can you tell us about the experience?

Before attending UW-Platteville, I attended Rock Valley College, a community college in Illinois. During my first two years after high school, I was part of a cohort program between the college and Woodward. I took classes to earn my Associate of Applied Science in Manufacturing Engineering Technology while I was working part time for Woodward. During the program, I was rotated to many of Woodward’s departments including inspection, metrology, CNC lathe operation, and manufacturing engineering. My experiences from both the classroom and work taught me many valuable lessons in manufacturing and real life applications. After graduating from the cohort program, I discovered that my degree would not transfer as I thought, so I spent the next two years completing engineering prerequisites and earning an Associate of Science degree from RVC.

The summer after I transferred to UW-Platteville, I worked for GE Waukesha Gas Engines as a sourcing intern. There I learned many valuable lessons in how to work with supplies and the importance of the supplier database. This experience complements my manufacturing experience well, as items must either be manufactured or purchased. My work experiences were a great asset, especially when I went to find a full time engineering position.

Do you have any advice for incoming students?

From my experience I have found that the most important thing that you will learn in school is learning how to learn. Once you have found the best way that you learn, you can utilize that knowledge to learn anything you want. Take the opportunity to get as much work experience as possible. It is something that you will never regret. Make sure that you attend the UW-Platteville career fair each semester and begin your job search early, whether it be for an internship/coop or a full time position.

Is there anything else you would like to say?

One of the great experiences that I have had at UW-Platteville was the opportunity to participate in undergraduate research. I was able to work with Dr. Jadaan on fatigue analysis for dental bridge implants. My primary role was to define the 3D model of the teeth/implant system. This required me to be able to create organic shapes of teeth in SolidWorks as well as make their height change parametrically on command. The parts of this model needed to fit together perfectly so that the finite element analysis could be performed. This analysis was able to predict the expected life of the implants given the loading expected on the implant. This work was done in conjunction with the University of Florida’s patient study. I would recommend this research experience to any student interested in extending their knowledge beyond the classroom.

While at UW-Platteville, I was part of the STEM Scholars program. This program is available to incoming freshmen and transfer students. The program is a great opportunity for networking with other students in STEM majors, professional development opportunities, and interaction with faculty and staff at the college as well as service to give back to the community.

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