Internship Reflections

July 28th, 2017 by Emily Warnke

My Siemens experience was amazing.  It really hit home the need for educators to get out in the real world (out of the classroom)  and get first hand experience that we can bring back to the students.  I told my mentor yesterday, my students are going to get so tired of hearing, “This summer during my Siemens experience…”.   But I have so many valuable lessons and experiences that I can’t wait to share with them.

My most interesting moment…

One morning we were in the Valve Components section of the facility and had a chance to talk with a machinist, Michael, about the work he was doing.  He was turning bar stock on a lathe.  He did an amazing job of taking us step by step through the process, explaining the various measurement tools that he used, how  he checks the computer programming for accuracy, showing the seemingly hundreds of different cutting tips that are used for the various parts turned on that machine. His knowledge base was fantastic and his pride in what he did showed through with every word he spoke.  When I shared my frustration about not being able to get machines like lathes into the classroom because of potential safety issues, he gave me a great idea.  He said, “My wife is a potter and what she does on her potting wheel is just like what I do on the lathe, just using a softer material.”  Problem solved…I now have a potters wheel on my wishlist for the maker space!

My biggest challenge…

Overload of information!  During my 3 week experience at Siemens I worked with so many different people and learned so many different things that at times I hit a “system overload” state.  I kept a notebook with me at all times, but found that so much of what the people that I was shadowing did was on the move and it was hard to stop and record everything.  Reflection at the end of the day became a crucial part of the process, because I knew that the next day I would be learning about another part of the company and the skill set that was required to be successful.

My biggest take away…

The importance of critical thinking and problem solving skills in the real world today.  I asked every person that I worked with, “What can we as teachers be doing to prepare our students to take your job one day?” Every person, from the hourly workers on the shop floor to the supervisors to the top guy at the Charlotte plant said some variation of, “They need to be able to think on their feet and not depend on someone to give them the answer!”  I think this is an area that we have failed our students.  In an effort to prepare them to score successfully on a standardized test, we have limited the time that they have to think through, explore and solve problems on their own.  That take away makes me even more determined to develop my B3 special area, which intentionally focuses on just those skills.

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