What Did I Learn?

As my internships draws to a close, it is hard to quantify what I have learned here.

The most interesting moment had to be learning how to cut aluminum tubing with a Kaltenbach saw. I had to go through safety training, observe the process, cut with help, and then cut on my own. I guess I was on the receiving end of scaffolding.

My biggest challenge was figuring out what product I wanted to create. Eventually, the product found me. I will organize a FIRST Lego League team for my school.

My biggest take away is to set up my classroom according to the 5S System (Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, Sustain). This will make my room a safer place to work, minimize clutter which reduces time looking for items, and in turn, increases time for instruction.


What Am I Going To Do?

I’ve been at my internship for a few weeks now and have experienced some challenges and successes.

The most challenging thing for me has been to try to figure out what hands-on experiences I want to share with my students. I have observed a lot of the soft skills that are used everywhere and I have already committed to teach these to my students. But I wanted something more. I had to figure out a product to create from this internship experience and how I will turn it into a meaningful educational resource for my students. This was one of my successes.

I am fortunate to be placed with a mentor who has experience working with Kenan Fellows. During one of our daily talks, he mentioned that the company helped sponsor one of the local high school’s FIRST Robotics team and shared its success in competitions. As coincidence would have it, just days earlier, I watched and episode of “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” on HBO. One of the segments was about FIRST Robotics teams and competitions. It mentioned that many of the students who participate in the competitions usually go on to careers in STEM-related fields. This immediately piqued my interest. My mentor knows I work with middle school students and informed me that there are different categories based on age and/or grade level that lead to the high school FIRST Robotics level: (FIRST Lego League Jr. – ages 6 – 10, FIRST Lego League – grades 4-8, and FIRST Tech Challenge – grades 7-12).


There it is! That is the product I want develop for my students. Now I realize part of the Kenan Fellowship’s history of industry-education partnerships. We, as Fellows, need to partner with businesses for support to help us broaden the learning experiences of our students. That being said, my mentor is willing to use some of the company’s community fund to sponsor our inaugural FIRST Lego League team. It will be my job to recruit team members, set up a meeting/practice schedule, etc. We’ll start out small this year and see how we can grow it in the future.

Wish us luck.

One Week of Internship Done, Lots to Teach My Students

During my first week at Bosch Rexroth, I learned many practices that I will try to share with my students and procedures I will incorporate in my classroom.  What struck me the most is that my students will have to develop soft skills and learn how to use computer software (Excel is huge here).

I have noticed that workers on the main floor work on their assigned tasks in their cubicles but they always come together to debrief, share progress made, offer critiques, and ask for help and suggestions. This is all done in a professional manner and nothing said is taken personally. Teaching my students how to work like this may be my biggest challenge.  I’ve found that my students always want to one-up each other and take criticism personally.

Employees seem to know there are different types of speech and know when and where to use them. There is “professional talk” that is used when making presentations (often during teleconferences) and when talking to supervisors. There is “tech-talk” that is used constantly using work-site acronyms. This is used when updating co-workers on projects, etc. There is also “social talk” that is used during down time and breaks. Workers move seamlessly back and forth through these “talks”. This is another challenge for me to teach my students as they often have difficulty separating
“home talk” and “school talk”.

It should come as no surprise that being bilingual is a huge asset. My students need to know that they should learn another language and become fluent, if possible. Spanish and German seem to be the most useful at this company. In all the Skype calls to Germany, it is obvious that German is the person’s native language, but they converse in English so that we can understand what they need to say to us here in Charlotte. It seems that most citizens in other countries are at least bilingual. We should try to catch up and do the same.

I have never seen so many complicated and detailed spreadsheets in my life! During international Skype conferences, I got dizzy watching as each presenter clicked here, moved data there, and spoke in an acronym-laced language that only Bosch workers could understand. I have asked many folks here what I need to do to prepare my students to be successful, and to a person, they said students need to learn how to use computer software, especially Excel. They have been disappointed in the applicant pool that does not have that background knowledge.  I need to make it a priority to further push my students to create Power Point presentations and present them to classmates in a formal setting. I also need to find a way to introduce them to Excel.

Let’s see what ideas the next few weeks here have to offer.