How to learn in preparation for this job in electrical engineering

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Dawud Beale, Jun 8, 2012.

  1. Dawud Beale

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 10, 2012
    Hi everyone

    I have an internship with a company who designs and assembles the control panels for low voltage generators.

    I am looking for things to study to help me with the internship as its a small company and they are hoping for me to be a productive member of staff as opposed to teh karger companies which will tend to baby sit interns a lot more. Ive already learned autoCAD and am designing the fascia's and product keys for the customers, but now I need to understand exactly how the control panels work and how they control the generators, I cant seem to find many books or even much on wiki so thought Id see if anyone is able to help point me in the right direction for some learning materials to study to aid me with my internship?

    Thank you in advance

    best wishes
  2. davebee

    Well-Known Member

    Oct 22, 2008
    I'd suggest to try to find someone who is one of your company's current customers who would feel comfortable showing you what is important to them.

    Two reasons. First, it doesn't matter so much what is industry standard in control panels, what matters to the customer is what they are paying your company to make, so you should begin by learning just what the customer wants.

    The second reason is that it is always good to build up communications with your customer, so the customer's company feels good about doing business with your company. Trivial as that sounds, it sometimes guides who the next contract gets signed with, and that is something that will keep your company in business, or not.

    But you have to be careful - being annoying to the customer can just as easily work in the opposite direction! Not a good thing for either company.
  3. ErnieM

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 24, 2011
    Oh sheesh, if I found my intern talking to my customers I'd grab him by the scruff of his neck and drag him immediately to HR so we could then walk him out the door never to return again.

    You'll actually be lucky to get used in a design function. More likely you'll be doing production test and troubleshooting. Keep your eyes open, look as deeply at everything they give you (perhaps on some of your own time, but not much) and most of all, ask questions and find the (probably very few) people who will give you good straight answers, then ask THEM what you asked us.
  4. BMorse

    Senior Member

    Sep 26, 2009
    I would suggest getting a hold of one of your generator schematics and or diagrams, and learn about each component and see what it does in that product..... this way you can familiarize yourself wit the companies products more so than studying things that have no direct correlation to what they do.
  5. GetDeviceInfo

    Senior Member

    Jun 7, 2009
    I'll second ErnieM's post. If this company is at all successfull, they have the knowledge inhouse. Assuming that your fullfilling your positional obligations, and with support of your supervisor/manager, don't hesitate to spend time in the commissioning department, and with talking to the field techs. Not only will you learn the operation and it's applicability in real world, but you may also learn of thier needs, and envision usefull solutions to assist them in thier efforts. Ask tons of questions, but don't get in thier way.

    When I had worked commissioning top drives, we often had the customer on site, and that would lead to me explaining what and why we did what we did, as part of thier certification. Often, one or two of our engineers would be present, asking as many questions as the customer. I had to explain the rules to a couple of them, but all was good.
  6. WBahn


    Mar 31, 2012
    I generally echo BMorse's recommendation. When I was 13 and 14 I worked at my Dad's company during the summer doing specific things (some scut work and some very interesting work). But none of my duties involved industrial controls in any way shape or form. So when I was off the clock I would get the schematics for some industrial air compressors that where being built up and see if I could first figure out how the schematics compared to the actual wiring of the unit. I then tried to understand why the controls were there and what they did and why there were wired the way they were. I found a couple of mechanics that were willing to spend a few minutes here and there answering questions or explaining things and I also learned that I could go straight to the engineer that designed them to get more detailed answers. Over the course of the summer there were a couple of time when, as a result of having to explain the controls in terms a teenager could understand, the engineer discovered an oversight in the controls themselves that had to be corrected. Similarly, on a couple of occasions I couldn't figure out how the schematics matched the actualy unit and when I asked the mechanic, it turned out they didn't agree. One time it was a miswired control and one time it was actually an error in the schematic that the mechanic didn't notice because he had wired that control countless times and simply wired it up correctly -- it was a case of him looking at the schematic and seeing what he expected to see and not what was really there.
  7. GetDeviceInfo

    Senior Member

    Jun 7, 2009
    funny how that works. When the production crew delivered thier completions to us to commission, we quickly learnt that anything goes. Hydraulic valves mounted in the wrong position, lube pumps plumbed backwards, whole sections of wiring not complete, etc, etc, etc.... I do believe though, that experiencing how it works, is more educational than seeing how it doesn't work, unless of course your the one that has to make it work. Bring it on !
  8. Dawud Beale

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 10, 2012
    Hi everyone thanks for the great advice, was really nice to read through peoples suggestions and experiences.

    I've started work, so far the focus has been on learning autoCAD and in terms of actual work, I've had to design a Fascia of one of their control panels and the boss is hoping I can now progress towards understanding how the control panels work so that I can edit and eventually create brand new electrical schematics.

    Aswell as learning on site, I'm really hoping to pick up things from reading at home. I have some schematics, but can anyone recommend some good materials to read?

    Its a small business, so they want me to be productive as opposed to being baby sat, which means I'm getting excellent opportunities to learn and put that learning into practice.

    Its low voltage diesel generators that we are mostly designing the control panels for, so any books or sites that will help me learn more will be greatly appreciated :)
  9. #12


    Nov 30, 2010
    My old standby is the datasheets from the chip manufacturers. Find a part number for a chip that your company uses, then look up the datasheet and try to learn every every aspect of that chip. When you get done asking about the things you can't figure out by yourself, pick another chip and learn about that one.

    We all have libraries in our heads. They are built up by doing what I have just described. You can't do up-to-date designs unless you know what is available, and that keeps changing. Start building the library in your head today!