Electrical Engineering Junior David Liu
My IE Pre-Grad Internship project was to build a guitar effect pedal from start to finish. I took the effect pedal from concept and design to working prototype, and from that I learned a lot lessons that would help me on in life and in college. I initially started researching successful companies and outlined what values made them have stability in the market. In addition, I looked for niches with potential for market entry and growth, and started my pedal design from there.
I started with several circuit theories laid out on a table that would give me my desired effect, and I started piecing together the circuit through calculation and computer simulation. From there, I developed a prototype that would eventually need refining. I made some value changes to parts while testing the effect. I then decided the parts that could be used in the smaller form factor of surface mount technology, and created a board layout, which would fit the bill.
However, the progress wasn't just in the effect pedal, I too gained significant knowledge from this project. First of all, I learned that every piece of your base education is important. Every theory that I applied to creating the pedal was based on my previous knowledge in my early classes. And in order to apply them, you needed to know each concept inside-out before you were able to make it work for you. Second of all, I found that doing research and development took time and money - two things your education is supposed to help you get. Struggling with funds and time aren't problems that graduates have in industry, and that's what makes quality products in industry. I also realized that grad school was a way to further your studies in a centralized topic with a bit more freedom, as I was doing in this project. Therefore, I do plan to continue to grad school.
I initially entered this project with the thought that it would be a linear design plan, from point a to point b. However, it turned out to be a very enriching experience that reinforced why my education was important and why I was working toward it.