As we enter the fall season, we wanted to express our gratitude to this year’s summer intern class at SI2. This summer, we welcomed nine interns to SI2 who are pursuing technical and non-technical degrees. Seven are students at the University of Lowell, one attends Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and one is studying at North Carolina State University.
Before they arrived in June, our teams came up with several different projects for the interns to work on—projects that would not only benefit SI2, but would provide valuable experience for the students as they matured in their field. As has been the case in years past, SI2 was happy to welcome a diverse group of students representing different engineering and financial disciplines. Here are some highlights:
Automation of the Four-Point Probe
One project was to create an automated 4PP (four-point probe) system to perform quality checks of one of SI2’s newest products: printed resistive film. Currently, the manual probe used for these quality checks requires 70 different measurements, taking upwards of 15 minutes to complete for each film product. This can be a tedious process and can even lead the technician running the test to experience fatigue due to the repeated movements necessary to take the measurements. Additionally, with manual data entry, there is always the possibility for human error in data capture.
Our intern team, guided by SI2 staff, tackled this assignment to find the best way to turn a manual process into an automated one. Using readily available materials and some inexpensive electronics, the students motorized the probe and attached it to a prototype CNC, roll-to-roll system to measure this resistive film product and record its data. The probe took measurements in a zig zag pattern to ensure the material was properly qualified. With some hard work and some help from senior staff, the device worked extremely well, and the data produced was consistent and reliable.
Connector to Board Transitions
Another project was to find a simple and elegant solution for Connector to Board Transitions. A common problem in our industry is the way in which an RF device connects with its RF coaxial connector – when connecting to a board, there’s usually a hiccup in the signal because the connection has slight imperfections. We wanted to ensure optimal implementation of connectors in our designs. Signals rely on geometry and when the connection is off, even by the tiniest measurement, the signal loses some strength. Our interns explored different geometries to accommodate different common coaxial connectors and came up with some fairly simple-yet-elegant changes to the connector pad that minimized the reflections at the connector-to-board interface, and provided the maximum amount of signal strength to the board.
Craig Coco, now in his senior year at UMass Lowell spent his time researching possible solutions, reading many scholarly articles and using a simulation software to test the designs he developed.
“The great thing about working at a smaller company like SI2 is that we had access to engineers from different disciplines to help us succeed, and that doesn’t always happen at larger companies,” he said. “Working the problem with the team helped me solve it much faster than if I had to do it on my own.”
Chart of Accounts Analysis and Documentation
The recent growth of our company has enabled SI2 to expand its office and testing spaces and hire new employees for positions ranging from financial planning analysts and R&D engineers, to managers of security and information systems and mechanical engineering and additive manufacturing. Most of these jobs require that staff enter charges into our accounting system’s general ledger. As new employees are onboarded, we wanted to ensure that there was a universal explanation of how and why various charges are entered into the system.
Our summer finance project involved conducting deep analysis and documentation of our chart of accounts. Interns reviewed which accounts were active and how they are used. Their completed report serves as a reference guide for assigning and documenting charges. Growing companies often run into problems in this area when new employees are hired and don’t fully understand the process, so this project was critical to avoid mistakes and confirm the consistency of the data entered.
SI2’s summer internship program is open to all college students seeking a fulfilling summer internship. Students interested in the fields of Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Additive Manufacturing Engineering and contract administration are encouraged to apply.
In several cases, internships have led to full or part-time positions as Staff Engineers or Staff Scientists.
Coco, recently hired part-time after completing his summer internship, said the company’s culture is unmatched. “SI2 has an incredible team – they are open, knowledgeable and take time out of their day to help.” He continued, “SI2’s culture rewards innovation, allows open and honest conversations and encourages collaboration with others, even if they aren’t in that particular department. It was a great experience and I look forward to the next chapter here.”
To learn more about our internship program visit https://www.si2technologies.com/careers/#internship
Thank you – Craig, Eric, Erin, Evan, Liam, Nick, Ryan, Samantha B., and Samantha C., for a highly productive summer, and we look forward to welcoming the next intern class in mid-2021!