October 17, 2011

Gaining a new perspective from co-op

Rebecca Williams, Electromechanical Engineering (BELM) ’14

Co-op Employer: Hamilton Sundstrand

Co-op Position: Project Engineer Intern

Hometown: Brockton, Mass.

A New Direction

For Rebecca Williams, BELM ’14, co-op meant change. A change in location—Connecticut. A change in expectations—the real world. And a change in her future.

Since her junior year in high school, Williams wanted to go into biomedical engineering, but her time at the aerospace and industrial manufacturing firm Hamilton Sundstrand offered her new perspective. As a project engineer intern, she enjoyed managing tasks from start to finish and working with everyone from the design engineers to the manufacturers. “Working there opened my eyes to the business side of engineering which is definitely what I want to get into,” says Williams.

Industry Insight

At Hamilton Sundstrand, it was Williams’ job to perform and track a series of seven tests on the main engine start of a military cargo helicopter. She performed data analysis, coordinated and participated in company-wide meetings, and acted as a liaison between Hamilton Sundstrand and its clients.

Team Effort

Williams’ colleagues were instrumental to her learning process. They taught her the ropes of project engineering and when that resulted in a shift in her career path, they helped her come to terms with the decision. “I’m one of those people who have to have a five-year, ten-year plan. So I was freaking out,” says Williams. “The engineering manager helped me see that it was OK.”

Pursuit of Happiness

Now that Williams has changed her career path, all the pieces seem to be falling into place. She is more certain than ever that electromechanical engineering is what she wants to do, and her classes have become even more rewarding now that she understands their real-world applications. Recently elected New England Zone Chair for the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), her increased leadership role is giving her exposure to the business side of the organization, providing management experience, and teaching her how to balance the competing priorities of school and extracurricular activities. Even playing on the volleyball team seems to offer valuable insight into collaborative work environments and interpersonal skills.

Williams is realizing that her plans may continue to change. Up next may be another co-op at Hamilton Sundstrand. And after graduation will definitely be grad school, she says. As all of the pieces of the puzzle come together, Williams knows she is headed in the right direction and is eager to see what’s on the horizon.

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