Robot Summer

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Eli Gottlieb, SEAS ’19

I arrived in Chicago on Tuesday, May 15th, the day after commencement. I had the pleasure of watching my colleagues and some of my closest friends walk across the stage, ready to embark on the next step of their journey before setting foot on a summer journey of my own. I had received an internship at IFM, a startup focused on using Computer Vision to make warehouses safer and more profitable by optimizing forklift efficiency and accuracy. During this internship, I would have the opportunity to work closely with the CEO and Hardware Lead to develop robotic systems capable of harnessing this technology. However, due to the company’s startup nature, they were unable to provide me with enough to cover the cost of living and working in the metropolitan area of Chicago. Thankfully, the Career Services Summer Funding Grant helped provide the support I needed to take advantage of this educational opportunity.

            I submatriculated into the field of Robotics due to my passion for technology. As a Mechanical Engineering undergraduate, I felt a lack of understanding of electronic systems and software that comprise most of today’s technological ecosystem. Mechanically powered systems are no longer leading the market, and in order to create technology capable of making a difference, it’s imperative to collaborate all three components of robotics. At IFM, I was responsible for designing mechanical prototypes that optimized material usage to house electronics and microcontrollers. Given the diminishing size and increase of accuracy of robotic systems, this company had allowed me to gather real world experience of designing working component by combining mechanical and electrical systems and software.

            The robotic industry is growing steadfast. With my degree in Robotics, I plan on making a difference. Currently, robots play an active role in the medical industry, such as minimally invasive surgical tools. With capabilities such as path planning and collision detection, they can increase performance on riskier operations like open heart surgery. I’m fascinated by the advancement of medical technology, and although my summer program wasn’t directly related to the field of medicine, the knowledge I’ve gained through my internship at IFM increased my understanding of creating robust robotic systems, and thus extends to my long-term goal of developing robotic-based medical devices.

            Additionally, working at a startup with summer had provided with the challenge of succeeding on a small team with limited expertise. The office was comprised of three full time employees, two of which were under the age of 25, and only one of which worked on the Mechanical Engineering/Hardware team. With my boss only being one year out of school, we spent the majority of the summer learning from each other, him with his experience working on the device at this company, and me with my hands-on classroom and project experience. I felt as though I was pushed to hold a role larger of that of a typical intern, but also held much larger influence in the company, and am grateful for this opportunity.

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