Internships are about more than getting coffee

My time at Aercoustics has not been entirely what I expected. I came in as an intern in May of 2014, and I expected to be doing what an intern does. In my mind, this involved a lot of sitting at a desk, doing the jobs nobody else wants to do, learning a lot, and waiting for 5pm to roll around. My internship at Aercoustics has surprised me in more ways than one.

First, both chronologically and in importance, my internship at Aercoustics was punctuated with frequent fieldwork. I wasn’t really doing a lot of sitting at my desk. Sometimes in architectural acoustics, fieldwork is glamorous. Sometimes it’s all concert halls, drama theatres, and premier performances. Other times though, especially in environmental acoustics, fieldwork actually involves well, fields. Sometimes, it’s in subway tunnels, or on rooftops. Lots of places, few of which I had been able to visit before working at Aercoustics. In any case though, as an intern, I was expected to set up and use equipment to collect data, to interact with clients, and to perform basically the same role as the full time staff. Wow. I was not expecting that at all. I appreciated the responsibility, and it allowed me to grow the skills I will need to perform measurements and analyze a situation autonomously in the real world.

 

AM - MMWF Turbine IECMH - Turbine from Below

Above: My perspective from the base of the turbine.
Left: On site for measurements at one of Ontario’s many wind farms.
That’s me, by the turbine.

 

The responsibility was not lifted once I had returned to the office, either. I was encouraged to analyze data, review drawings, and come to my own conclusions. I was then encouraged to review my incorrect assumptions once the full-time engineering staff had looked over my work. It was a tremendous learning experience, especially for me. I enjoy defending my wrong ideas until every incorrect assumption is brought out into the open, and logically refuted; then I have learned the correct approach. And I was given plenty of opportunities to do just that, which made for a fantastic learning experience, and in my opinion, a great office culture. The culture at Aercoustics is very forgiving of making those mistakes, which I found surprising. There is even a mock award for the biggest mistake of the year, handed out at the company Christmas party. As a full time student for the majority of my life, transitioning to an environment where every small mistake no longer leaves an indelible black mark on your record was refreshing.

I was also surprised at just how much of my full-time student background came in handy while I was working at Aercoustics. The level of technicality of the work that I was involved with was generally much higher than I was expecting. I had to dredge out concepts from a year-stale waves and vibrations course to address vibration isolation, sound transmission and isolation problems. Though my background from school is in Aerospace Engineering, I was exposed to the basics of signal processing, as well as transmission line theory as a basis for understanding sound transmission. These are very useful things to understand. Lunch and learn sessions with various members of the staff were common, and everyone was encouraged to share their often considerable expertise. It was a lot of fun to work with engineers from such varied backgrounds.

As my internship at Aercoustics comes to an end, and the reality of returning to school full time is beginning to become un-ignorable, I find that I am grateful for how much I have learned. Not only will the philosophy of engagement with technical work that Aercoustics provides make the transition back to professional student less abrupt, but I really have learned many useful things about the science of acoustics, and about myself during my internship.

If you are an engineering student or university representative who wants to learn more about our internship program, feel free to contact Aercoustics staff directly at [email protected].