The Life of an Intern

DISTek Intern Trevor McCormack
DISTek Intern Trevor McCormack

As a student you feel fortunate to have an opportunity to get an internship, but to get an amazing internship, such as DISTek, is a true blessing. DISTek is the ultimate playground for embedded systems programming nerds that love manipulating hardware through software and who relish at the thought that their work will eventually end up on a microcontroller of an agricultural or off-road vehicle. To my delight, within an hour on my first day, I was assigned to a CAN bus project, based around ISO 11783, working side by side with full time employees on a real product intended for real customers. After receiving a binder full of ISO standards and a quick, but quite necessary, pep talk from my new coworkers I was set to start programming… or so I thought.

I quickly found that my collegiate ways of “Let’s start programming ASAP!” were not going to apply very well here. In school you can get an A- or B+ and be content even though you may have overlooked some small detail that cost you a few points, but in the DISTek world getting an A- or B+ isn’t enough to be content about. I realized I needed to stop and think about what I was doing and where I intend to go with my code so I did just that. I got together with a fellow coworker and started planning a clean and organized structure that was not only maintainable in the long term, but also compliant with ISO standards while satisfying the requirements of the project.

It is hard to quantitatively measure the quality of code, but when modifying or adding to existing code it’s fairly easy to determine if great thought was put into the overall design and foundation. I’ve learned that here at DISTek there is great pride taken in ensuring a strong foundation is created to support the longevity and overall success of a project for both internal and external users. Being surrounded by such work ethics has personally pushed me to strive to meet the same standard to not only be a better asset for DISTek, but a better programmer overall.

My ambition of becoming an embedded systems software engineer has only gotten stronger since I’ve started my internship and the DISTek Way has taught me what I need to do to become more knowledgeable in the field and how to be more effective as an embedded programmer.