Andrew Gates ’24 — An Internship in Manufacturing Engineering
When Director of Engineering Beth Larson asked senior Andrew Gates if he was interested in being the first student to participate in a new engineering AIP, he said yes for several reasons.
Andrew, like all seniors this time of year, has been heavily occupied with the college application process. As someone who plans to major in mechanical engineering, he saw this AIP as an opportunity to improve his resume and give him exposure to what the future could hold. “I know that I want to study engineering, so I thought it’d be good to see what it looks like in the real world. It ultimately gives me experience of what’s to come.”
For the duration of the fall season, Andrew traveled to Morris Group, Inc. in Windsor twice a week where he shadowed engineers as they worked with CNC machines and other precision manufacturing tools and answered any questions he had. Morris Group is an importer and distributor of metalworking machinery who provide customers with engineering solutions and maintenance services. In Andrew’s case, he was mostly watching Morris engineers program these CNC machines to create automated robotic medical cells and implantable components, like fully functional prosthetic knee and hip joints.
It was an opportunity to see how the lessons he has been learning in the classroom can translate to the real world. “I got walked through all the different machines and learned the process. A lot of what I was seeing I had seen before because we have some of that equipment in the engineering lab,” Andrew said.
Larson explained that this AIP, and the AIP program in general, is an opportunity to go beyond what can be taught in a classroom. “It was great for him to see the bigger picture, which is sometimes harder to describe in the classroom.”
Of course, the first step is to show interest and prowess in the classroom, which Gates certainly did. “He was a standout student in my manufacturing engineering class, and to participate in this AIP you first need to take that class,” Larson shared. “He did, and he did really well. I know he’s interested in that field, but he also showed he’s creative and a good problem solver.”
For President and CEO of Morris Group Bradley Morris ‘84, who is an Avon alumnus and the father of a past and current student, his main goal was that Andrew would be exposed to all the components of modern manufacturing. “Even though he’s in high school, he witnessed the integration of machines and robotics, witnessed the writing of a CNC program, and the programming and tooling at work.”
Andrew says the experience strengthened his desire to pursue engineering as a career. “The process of design and seeing what you’ve created carried out to completion is really cool. That’s what I like most about engineering.”
While the experience reinforced his desire to work in this field, it also helped him narrow down the type of products he’d like to work with. “Most of what I was shadowing wasn’t exactly what I want to do. I still enjoyed the work, but I really like cars, so I’d be looking to go more into manufacturing specifically for the automotive industry or automotive engineering.”
Larson says that this is an important facet of AIPs. It allows students to explore and narrow down their interests. “That’s a huge part of it. One of the other main purposes of the AIP program is to expose students to potential new areas of interest.”
Andrew says he definitely recommends this AIP for future students, and Larson says they plan to offer it again next year. “I want to do it again, and Morris Group wants it to work. I think we’d even look to expand it next year—maybe have it be even more hands on.”
Brad says he recognizes the importance of AIPs, and explains why he wants to work with Larson to continue to grow this one. “Part of it is I wanted to give back, as an alumnus and a parent. It’s so important for students to get this exposure at that age. With the AIP program, you get something you might not see in a book, and for students who aren’t quite sure what job they want to pursue, hopefully that exposure piques an interest.”