Testing it out

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Tim Victor, a mechanical engineering senior, spent his summer working as a hydraulic development intern at a Caterpillar facility in Peoria, Illinois.

In today’s job market, practical work experience gives new graduates the edge they need to land the most sought-after positions. If that’s the case, senior Tim Victor should have no problem landing his dream job when he graduates from Missouri S&T. The mechanical engineering major from Manchester, Missouri, just completed a hydraulic development internship with Caterpillar’s Product Development & Global Technology Division in Peoria, Illinois. It was the third opportunity he’s had as a student to gain on-the-job experience.

A typical day for Victor starts with checking a rigorous endurance test of a hydraulic control valve to see if a shutdown occurred overnight. It’s a responsibility that puts the fluid dynamics and control theory he learned in class into practice.

“If I had a shutdown, I go through the data collected and discover the reason,” he says. “I use this data to hypothesize the location of a possible leak or malfunction in the valve being tested and use my resources to have the leak fixed or instrumentation replaced.”

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Using a computer, Victor controls the testing conditions for the hydraulic control valve. The computer controls the functions of all the facility valves and pumps, allowing the valve to operate at specified pressures.

His top priority is to keep the valve endurance test constantly running because downtime costs the organization both time and money. Recently, Victor says the test was able to run for 24 hours without stopping.

“This is a big step in the testing process,” he says. “It shows that we have been able to create a stable testing program and that we have the ability to run for long periods of time with no major problems.”

Victor says he loves the work environment and the challenges it offers.

“Everyone is very helpful and always looking to help me learn new things – and even learn a few things from me,” he says. “S&T has really taught me a lot. I have the ability to analyze the data and think of solutions. There’s nothing worse than discovering a problem and not having a clue what it means.”

Victor says he applied for the Caterpillar internship using MinerJobs, the university’s online campus recruiting system, and visited with the company’s representatives at a Career Fair.

“My biggest takeaway from this internship is working with others,” he says. “I regularly work with people from all walks of life, and it’s important to understand how people work. This is something extremely vital to being a successful engineer and student. You are only successful as a group if you use each other’s strengths and weaknesses to create an efficient and creative solution to the problem.”

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Victor talks with fellow S&T alumnus Mike Marstall, a senior test engineer and a 1995 mechanical engineering graduate.

Victor says he continues to draw from his first co-op experience with Parker Hannifin Sporlan’s Valve Division in Washington, Missouri, where he learned about the business side of engineering

“Deadlines and profits dictate trade-offs in engineering decisions,” Victor says. “Learning this has taught me to take a more realistic approach to most engineering problems, because in the real world, products are built for the customer. If the product is over-engineered, overpriced and requires too much time for their purpose, then it’s worthless to them.”

He plans to take the knowledge gained from class and work experiences with him into a career in the alternative energy, automotive or aerospace industry.

“I aspire to become a leader in the push for alternative fuel and energy,” he says. “My goal is to make a better future for the next generation through the innovation of solar and alternative energy technology.”

A member of Lambda Chi Alpha and the Miner Inline Hockey Team, Victor just finished his term as president of Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow, the student section of the Miner Alumni Association.

Story by Mindy Limback
Photos by Kevin May

Comments

  1. Rob Carmody says:

    TIM!

  2. Glad to hear your internship fostered communication & group solution.
    The last several years of a (41) year career in mostly Sales & Marketing my experience w/ new, young engineers was they lacked people skills.
    Actually everyone is in sales selling your ideas to your boss, your spouse, to your teenage children etc.
    Good Luck upon graduation!
    Bill Moses, BSME ’59

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