Ryan Scheidt

Company: Lutron Electronics, Inc.
Company URL: http://www.lutron.com/Company-Info/AboutUS/Careers/Pages/Careers.aspx
School: Electrical Engineering
Hometown: West Lafayette, IN
High School: William Henry Harrison
Expected Graduation: May 2010, B.S. Electrical Engineering with Mathematics Minor

Purdue's solid engineering reputation and top 10 rankings, coupled with the scholarships Purdue offered me made the decision to come to Purdue an easy one. I first heard about the Co-Op program my very first semester during a seminar class. I was attracted to the idea of having up to 18 months of work experience upon graduation, getting an idea of what industry work is like early on, and having the opportunity for more responsibilities and meaningful projects with a company that will commit to you more fully since you have committed to them.

Working at Lutron has been great. I really feel that working at a company for a full semester has tremendous advantages over just doing short 10-12 week summer internships. At Lutron I have been part of important design teams comprised of engineers of various disciplines, as well as technicians and have been treated as a integral part of this team. At Lutron, co-ops are not subjected to tedious paper-pushing and database entry - I have been given challenging and useful projects. I was given an oscilloscope, soldering iron, current clamps, and voltage probes and put to work with a senior engineer designing a new circuit. I developed embedded code for the graphical user interface (GUI) of an analysis tool used by field service engineers to diagnose problems out in the field. This was work an actual engineer would be doing. The amount of things one can learn by immersing yourself in industry is really amazing; I have learned everything from purely technical skills to understanding how manufacturing works. I feel I have learned the importance of working in a team and asking questions, being able to communicate effectively to others, and time management. Living and working in southeastern Pennsylvania, I have also been able to explore the Northeast for the first time with other co-ops, traveling to New York City, Philadephia, and Atlantic City.

I think the biggest advantage of being a Co-Op student is that you will be able to explore things in depth at your company, especially during your subsequent terms after your first one, since basic training is done and you now have a feel for the company and how it works. You will have the opportunity to work in different departments and can even work in a non-engineering department like marketing if you want to. As a co-op, you will better understand how real life engineering and business works, what is deemed important (e.g. time and efficiency!), and what types of things engineers actually do in industry. During each of my three co-ops, I have learned just as much (if not more) than I would during a semester of classes! Finally, doing co-ops will help make the abstract theory you are taught in school a little bit more concrete and applicable for you; you will be able to understand that yes, most of what you learn in school really is useful, just in varying degrees.