Starting an Engineering Career

Ag Engineering Students

After graduating in December of 2013 from Iowa State with a degree in Electrical Engineering, I set out on the quest for my first job. The search began shortly after graduation in San Jose, CA, the heart of Silicon Valley. I soon found that Silicon Valley has a very competitive job market with little room for the new guy. After 6 months of searching, I brought my search back to the Midwest and contacted Jeff Sandvold who I had talked with at the Iowa State career fairs. After a phone conversation and a very long skype interview with everyone at the Cedar Falls office, I found myself making the 2000 mile journey across the country to start my first job here at DISTek.
My first day was filled with mountains of paperwork, learning the layout of the office, and meeting lots new people. After finishing first day orientation and completing most of the new employee checklist, I started training. The first training I was presented with was learning how to use a custom RTOS. I began learning the structure of the OS, CAN messages, diagnostics and much more. At times the training was difficult but I was able to complete the training and now feel confident in applying what I learned.
The next training to complete was MATLAB and Simulink. I had used both of these programs before and Jason Mowry’s interactive Simulink training program taught me a great deal about Simulink that I had not previously known. At first I was intimidated by the mechanical and hydraulic systems but soon learned how to work with these systems and that these systems behave very similar to the electrical systems I studied extensively in college courses. After completing the training, I was able to help Jason by recreating some of the advanced example problems to use in his training.
DISTek has been a perfect fit for me and I am learning something new every day. An example of something I have recently learned is just how important communication is when starting a project. Another engineer and I were instructed to hang a whiteboard in a new conference room and did not communicate to get all the requirements of the job. We had just finished hanging the whiteboard only to find out that we had hung it exactly where the TV was supposed to go. Even though this was a small issue, it is a good example of how we at DISTek need to have good communication with customers and obtain all requirements for a project. Without proper communication, we could end up finding a solution to the wrong problem.
I enjoy the challenge that DISTek presents me and nothing compares to the satisfying feeling after finding a solution to a tough problem. I am now solving real world problems for customers and applying the knowledge I learned in training and in school. Every day I am thankful for the opportunity to work for such a great company. I have not just started a job, but found an environment with great people and a place to better myself as a person and an engineer.