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The Caterpillar Experience

By Lauren Samanic & Sarah Angelbeck

An internship experience at Caterpillar gives you the opportunity to work and learn from industry professionals who have years of experience. All types of backgrounds have a home in this innovation-driven environment. From technical disciplines such as mechanical engineering, computer engineering, and data scientist to business disciplines, there is a job to be done. In order to support opportunities for such a variety of backgrounds, Caterpillar offers a myriad of work opportunities such as Data Analytics Intern, Engineering Co-Op, and other internships.

Within this blog you will hear from two students in the Technology & Management Program on specifics of their experiences working with this company, including the highlights, the skills they’ve gained, and what they’ve taken out of this experience.

I started my internship experience with Caterpillar as a Data Analytics Intern. This internship experience was unique in its structure as students worked in multidisciplinary teams, including those from technical disciplines as well as those with business acumen. I specifically worked with those from computer science as well as students from the MBA program. While the internship was dubbed a Data Analytics Internship, this unique setup allowed projects the freedom to range from software projects supporting those in Data Analytics to purely data driven projects.

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience within this internship, working on a project to streamline data flows from a transportation management system to a Caterpillar utilized CRM system. My favorite part of the Data Analytics experience was working within a team of students as well as the flexible structure of the internship which gave my group the freedom to come up with a solution to our project that we had fully vetted and chosen ourselves.

After completing my project in the Data Analytics internship, I chose to move to the Engineering Parallel Co-Op as a software engineer. Here I was introduced to a new structure or working. I was assigned a mentor to work with who I have been able to learn a lot from. I’ve been assigned my own projects to work on independently, and my mentor was there for any questions or concerns related to the project as well as general Caterpillar/career advice. My projects through the Co-Op have been centered around automation of testing and evaluating performance of Caterpillar’s Electronic Control Modules.

In my experience, the Engineering Parallel Co-Op is more independent work, as opposed to working within a team of students, and you have the ability to get to know your mentor a bit better if you work with them through multiple rotations. Additionally, there is a direct path to seeking full-time employment through the Parallel Co-Op program.

I enjoyed my experiences equally through Caterpillar so far. It’s a great environment to really learn a lot about a technical discipline as well as general tips about working for a large corporation. Through both roles, I can say my favorite thing about working at Caterpillar is both the people I’ve worked with and the independence in taking your own approach to projects.

Sarah Angelbeck, Class XXV, Computer Engineering

I began working at Caterpillar the summer after my freshman year as a Parallel Co-op Engineer. I did product design on the Motor Grader Product Team and data analysis on the Engine Air Systems Team. Although I was at the same company for two summers, I was able to hold two different positions and learn both design and analytic skills.

On the Motor Grader Product Team, I learned Finite Element Analysis (FEA) through Creo Simulate, and I also honed my modeling skills on Creo Parametric. I designed a new Motor Grader blade attachment and completed component and assembly modeling on the blade fabrication to fit new design requirements. I faced many challenges that summer, but because of the resources available at Caterpillar and how helpful my manager was, I was able to complete these projects and learn how to apply what I learned in school.

This summer, I joined the Engine Air Systems Team, and I learned the differences between machine and engine design. This role required me to learn what data driven decision making is and how to utilize it. Instead of designing and manufacturing the turbochargers and air compressors, they are supplied by other companies. Therefore, I had to work closely with the supplier and study field data in order to complete warranty cost reduction and quality improvements. Alongside picking up skills such as Powerbi and data analytical techniques, I learned how to communicate cross-functionally with suppliers, product service, and purchasing all while improving my product-solving skills.

Caterpillar is committed to excellence and that shone through while on each team. Everyone was dedicated to producing the best product and to push for innovation. For example, CAT is at the forefront of automation and it was amazing to see huge dozers operating autonomously. As a Parallel Co-op Engineer, I have been able to complete larger projects because I am not tied to a 12-week internship. I continue to work throughout the year at Research Park and continue to grow my real world engineering skills. I am very thankful for the opportunity Caterpillar has given me and I look forward to continuing working and expanding my knowledge.

Lauren Samanic, Class XXVI, Mechanical Engineering

Lauren Samanic
Lauren is currently in T&M Class XXVI, a  junior in Mechanical Engineering,  and has been doing a co-op with Caterpillar.

Sarah Angelbeck
Sarah is currently in T&M Class XXV, a senior in Computer Engineering, and has been doing a co-op with Caterpillar.

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