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Caterpillar: An Intern/Co-op Experience

By Kurt Plonsker

This past summer I had the opportunity to work for Caterpillar as a Parallel Co-op engineer in May 2021. Although I have spent only 3 months at the company, I have learned so much about manufacturing, desktop application development, and Caterpillar’s unique culture.

When I started working, I was placed on a team based out of Lafayette, IN at Caterpillar’s Large Engine Center. Going into the Co-op I knew very little about engine production but was excited to learn about the back-end solutions that make it possible. The team I worked with was under the Components and Solutions Division. This group was responsible for product integration concerns and optimization of existing systems. Additionally, the team was full of people that were always willing to help me understand hard concepts and answer any questions I had.

I’ve spent most of my time so far working on developing a desktop application. The purpose of this application is to create program files for the Digital Control Units that the engines run on. I’ve learned how to create the desktop application using tools like WinForms in MS Visual Studio, how to use excel functionality in my program and other valuable skills that will be useful in the professional world. The experienced engineers on my team were an invaluable resource and made the learning curve much shallower.

Despite working from home for most of the summer, Caterpillar was great at promoting a fun and engaging environment. There were virtual tours of Caterpillar facilities, intern game nights, and many other fun events that were planned throughout the summer. One of my personal highlights was when I was invited to test my completed tool in late August at the factory where my team was based out of. When I arrived, I was given a tour of the Large Engine Center, learned more about Caterpillar’s unique manufacturing process, and was able to meet the members of my team in person. It was an awesome experience and showcased Caterpillar’s unique and innovative atmosphere.

The Parallel Co-op program was a great experience to have. Because there wasn’t an end date for the summer, I was able to work on a project that needed some research and was more complex. I was also able to learn about many other interns’ experiences and gain a better understanding of large-scale production and manufacturing is.

Kurt Plonsker

Kurt is a Junior in T&M class XXVII. He is studying Computer Engineering and is currently working at Caterpillar Inc. under their Parallel Co-op program as a Components and Solutions intern.

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