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Not sure which company department I should take

  1. Mar 9, 2014 #1
    I'm an undergrad Industrial Engineering student and I'm interested in a summer internship. According to the ad I could choose between some different departments, i.e. Production, Engineering, Quality assurance. Could you briefly elaborate on each department? I'm not sure which one I should take as an IE. My studies are almost over and it doesn't feel like my program familiarized me enough with any of those.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 9, 2014 #2
    You need practical experience. Go toward the Production side of the company. The Engineering side thinks they already understand this stuff. Most of the time, they do. However, some Engineers get glued to their desks. It may have been years since they actually saw the Production side of things.

    How do I know this? I work for the Engineering division of a utility. We have a vibrant Production team and they're worth visiting every so often to see what they're up to. We both learn a lot from each other. Seeing Engineering principles applied to the real world is an eye-opener.
  4. Mar 9, 2014 #3
    Could you describe responsibilities of your company's Production Department?
  5. Mar 9, 2014 #4
    I work for a large water utility. The production side does water and waste-water plant operations, infrastructure maintenance and repair (valve exercising, pump maintenance, substation work).

    I design and integrate control systems and SCADA. This includes everything from instruments, wiring, networks, controller programs, Operator Interfaces, Wide Area Networks, historian database servers, firewalls, firmware, systems software, and many more things.

    This is where the rubber hits the road. This is where you find out who did their homework and who didn't. The start-up phase is where we are heavily involved. We're the ones they look at first for answers when things aren't producing results they expect. I can't avoid talking to operators and operations engineers.

    Unfortunately, many engineers can and do. They live at their desks, they draw up plans, and if we're lucky, there is a enough there to make things work.
  6. Mar 9, 2014 #5
    I'll second Jake's recommendation. As an IE, you want to be where stuff is getting made. What that area is called varies by company, but I think you'll learn the most if you get to see the process in operation. There are fancy lean manufacturing words for this, but you need to get your butt into the production area/plant/shop floor and see it with your own eyes. You'll learn more that way. BTW, we had an IE intern in my area last summer, working in Manufacturing [same deal, different name], who I learned a lot from. This field is important to do well.
  7. Mar 11, 2014 #6
    So I asked a guy working in the company and he put it simply. Production Engineering - I'll have an ability to deal with process engineering, Engineering - projects and line modifications, QA - work in lab or deal with specifications engineering. Honestly, it rises more questions than answers. I don't think my studies ever described these things in depth so I don't know what to go for over here.
  8. Mar 11, 2014 #7


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    with you being an industrial engineer, i would recommend you take the quality assurance or production role. a typical day in the roles are as follows

    engineering: develop a new product by modifying a drawing, modifying part values, making a modification to an existing part, documentation of projects. engineering can be very stay at your desk and design, or it can be more mobile. it depends on your role.

    production: ensure that the build process stays on schedule. you find out there is an error with a machine so you have to fix it. parts are coming out bad, so you work with engineering and QA to determine why. process paperwork such as modification requests from engineering and build orders from your companies customer interfaces. production is very busy, typically you are moving around a lot

    QA: test sample units to ensure that they lie within specification. do the documentation. as QA you will get a lot of hands on lab time
  9. Mar 11, 2014 #8


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    If you really really can't decide, pick one at random. At the worst, you will find out why it was the wrong choice for you. Learning that as an intern is a lot better than learning it in your first permanent job.

    But I would go with the previous advice here. "Production" is probably the best place to see IE working, or not working, in real life.

    All three departments will have a lot of interaction with each other (or they should have, in a good company). So whichever you choose, you should end up learning something about all of them.
  10. Mar 11, 2014 #9
    So I get the picture and as a fresh intern I'd like to learn as much as possible thus 'Production' seems like a good thing. QA seems like less moving around and less stress. For some reason I was told by the guy who works there that QA is the best (I think at least for him).
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