ProtoCAM: Additive Manufacturing, 3D Printing and Rapid Prototyping.

Ask the Interns: An Exit Interview with Tony & Christian

August 24, 2021

We previously reported on the backgrounds and various goings-on of our summer additive manufacturing interns, Tony and Christian. Their time here at ProtoCAM is drawing to a close, and while we’re sad to see them go, we’re thrilled to see where they’ll head onto from here! As Tony and Christian wrapped up their last few weeks, we asked them about their time here at ProtoCAM.

 What was your experience like at ProtoCAM in the finishing workshop?

Tony: “It was really great! I enjoyed seeing how each part went from a raw part, fresh from the machine to a finished product.”

Christian: “It was a very enjoyable experience just working with everybody [in the workshop]. They made the day go by really fast; not in a bad way, in a good way! Being able to have that lighthearted environment, and in general, learning everything that goes on back there, that was definitely the best part of it.”

What kinds of skills did you learn in your position at ProtoCAM regarding advanced finishing and urethane casting?

T: “With casting, I definitely learned a lot about problem solving, because there were times when there was something wrong with the part, and we didn’t know what we could do to fix it, and had to figure it out. And then with finishing, just deciding which path to take to get to the desired product.

C: “One of the big things I think is time management, and really spending significant amounts of time on the parts that really need it. Some companies tend to want [a part] to have a better finish, and then there are some parts where it’s a just a quick finishing process. Also, using the different machines for different products, and deciding which will make the part look better, or which would print the fastest, etc.”

What did you learn about the 3D printing industry?

T: “Coming into this job, I didn’t have any experience with 3D printing. I didn’t know what machines did what, or how many different technologies there were, and now I know so much more. Before, I didn’t know that 3D printing was being used for making parts for industrial companies, and I’ve actually been really surprised at how big a role [3D printing and additive manufacturing] plays in everyday life.”

C: “To add onto what Tony said, I initially didn’t really know that 3D printing is used for medical companies. Working with the wax castings was definitely interesting because they have to be up to specifications, and you have to consider factors like shipping them out in different kinds of temperatures. I have had a little bit of 3D printing experience…and I have had a machining course, so I have a little bit of experience on how a machine shop would work and that kind of related into what the shop was like back here…it has that same machine safety environment.”

What was your favorite thing you learned to do? 

T: “I enjoyed working with the urethane casts, but I also enjoyed working with the [Multi Jet Fusion] machine.”

C: “I liked all of the technologies to be honest! They all have their own positives and negatives for different jobs, and it makes each day have a fresh variety.”

How do you think your time at ProtoCAM has impacted your future career goals?

 T: “No matter what kind of job I get, I’m always going to think of the workers now: who is post-processing the products, who’s shipping them, who’s packing them; I know what they have to go through. I know what they appreciate, too, now…or what can make their day better, just based off of what the engineers in the office do. Just keeping them in mind can also give you perspective on how long something might take to manufacture.”

C: “Teamwork; I would say every job should be all about teamwork. Like the ProtoCAM values, TEAM. Everyone’s doing their own thing [in the workshop], but you know at the end of the day we’re all working together, even though we’re doing different things. It’s all about staying in tune with each other and keeping that team bond together. Also, respecting everybody’s feelings in the workplace and valuing their time.”

Do you think your time here has helped you to develop skills you can utilize in your chosen field?

T: “Definitely. It has given me a sense of how long things take to happen, and how easy things might be; like if I’m designing something, it gives me a sense of that. And [it has taught me about] respecting workers, just knowing how much work they are putting into creating the part that you put together and want shipped out to the customer.”

C: “The amount of respect that we have for each other, I’m definitely putting that into the next field, and the tone [I feel at ProtoCAM]. I feel like there’s a lighthearted tone back there, but we’re all serious, too. We joke around with each other all the time, but we get the stuff done. I feel that’s one of the most important things in the workforce. It shouldn’t just be work, work, work…you have to have that sense of relief, and I feel like ProtoCAM in general has that feeling…I feel like that’s one of the most important things with any workplace, just having that sense of balance.”

Do you have any advice for those seeking careers in this industry, or for future interns?

T: “Enjoy your summer, because I’ve definitely enjoyed mine! I’m sad to see it over and having to return to school. I’ve enjoyed working with the people of all ages that work here. Make new connections and try to learn as much as you can about this industry. And don’t stop asking questions, keep asking questions!”

C: “Keep pushing. Your college degree is definitely going to be worth it. Keep pushing, don’t stop; I know some of the semesters are very very tough. Also make those connections and have fun.”

What are your future plans?

T: “I’d like to experience more, and I’m still trying to hone in on exactly what industry I’d like to work in. I’ve had a great time previewing the 3D additive manufacturing industry, and I’d like to intern in other industries to see what’s right for me, so I’m applying to other internships for next summer.”

C: “I’m already starting to look for a spring [cooperative education program]. In the spring of your junior year, you have the option to do a co-op or technical elective, so I’m already in the process of looking for co-ops for spring.”

Tony will continue to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering as he enters his sophomore year at Lehigh University, while Christian be entering his junior year as he pursues a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Wilkes University.