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Mechanical engineering major helps bring renewable energy to rural communities

Daniel Cheney recently completed studies for his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering. The graduate of Moon Valley High School in Phoenix did his summer internship with Easy Energy Systems, a company based in rural Welcome, Minnesota, that designs and manufactures modular micro biorefineries to produce fuel-grade ethanol and other renewable energy products. Here he talks about his internship experience:

Getting the job: My parents went out to dinner and show and ended up eating with one of my mom’s friends from college. My parents mentioned I was mechanical engineering student who would soon graduate, and that I had experience in mechanical drafting programs.

This sparked the interest of the companion of my mom’s friend, who is the CEO and founder of Easy Energy Systems and Easy Automation.

I called him the next day. We met a few days later. He said he could tell I had a good heart and I would work hard to improve in the workplace. I got hired that day and started the job two days later.

Job duties: I did mechanical drawings for various ethanol plant layouts and the components for the plants. I used a 3-D modeling program called Autodesk Inventor to do drawings used as prints to make entire frames or visual aids. I also used Excel and a program called Codesys to help with basic data entry for the overall code of a plant.

Toughest challenge: Learning how to be efficient in an entirely new program in a field that I pretty much knew nothing about. There was a big difference between my life in the city and life in the farming communities that the company works in.

Best part of the job: It was seeing the completed products that I worked on, whether it was a frame built entirely from my prints or walking into a plant where the components in it were spaced accordingly to my guidelines.

Lessons learned: I learned how much you need to understand the industry you are working in to be successful. I came to understand that you can improve yourself as a professional by learning from people with many different kinds of backgrounds and experiences.

Career aspiration: I would like to be either a test driver or chief engineer for some type of automotive company. I realized from this internship, though, that engineering itself is a concept that can be applied across a plethora of fields.

Advice to internship seekers: Apply as early as possible, and do not give up. I got my internship only at the end of my senior year after applying over and over again for countless jobs.

ASU provides you the schooling you need, but you must be proactive to get an internship. Persistence pays off in applying for a job and in the workplace. Hard work will be noticed and appreciated.

Media Contact
Joe Kullman, [email protected]
Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

About The Author

Joe Kullman

Joe Kullman is a science writer for the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Before joining Arizona State University in 2006, Joe worked as a reporter, writer and editor for newspapers and magazines dating back to the dawn of the age of the personal computer. He began his career while earning degrees in journalism and philosophy from Kent State University in Ohio. Media Contact: [email protected] | 480-965-8122 | Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering Communications

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