By Vivin Kumar (B.E. Mechanical, 2011-15)
Soon after I came back from an Industrial Visit to Mangalore and Goa, I went into the only inter-collegiate technical symposium of our college, KRIYA. I am sure you would understand the type of euphoria and mindset, one would have during such days. What made it even more special was that I happened to conduct an event called Conceptualize for the Indian Institution for Industrial Engineering-Students Chapter with my fellow mates. It was then that people informed me about the Internship opportunities that were about to come our way. One of the companies that were offering an intern opportunity was General Electric (GE). By then, even a short list was published based on our CGPA on the placement board and I was happy to find my name on it. Fortunately, I had prepared a resume for another interview a couple of months back and this left me with tasks of updating it and putting together all my certificates in its folder.
On the day of selection, we had a presentation by the visiting team of GE that entailed all that was at stake. OMLP was the keyword of the presentation which is Operations Management Leadership Program, to which the successful interns would be assigned to after their graduation. It is an exciting program that provides two years of training at different facilities of GE on a rotational basis. The most significant factor is that the program does not pertain to a single area of expertise as one gets exposed to as many areas as his number of rotations. The session went on well and we were informed that the process would be made of two segments- Group Discussion and Technical Interview.
The group discussion, I must say, turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The reason I say so is that the theme was Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-Good or Bad. For someone like me who loves reading all about current affairs, this sounded like a piece of cake and it turned out to be one. Putting forward all the points I knew, both for and against, I guess I made a balanced contribution to the discussion along with my fellow students. Once I got through it, the final Interview was not an interview at all. My interviewer who happened to be the head of GE Oil & Gas, Coimbatore made me so comfortable that I felt it to be a friendly discussion rather than an interview itself. As both the selection stages went on well, I was finally into the select group of students who were offered the internship opportunity at GE. The confidence boost that I got when this announcement was made in the Conference hall of Placement section is inexpressible by words.
After the selection process, was the period of anxious waiting, as we were told that our location of internship could be in any of the facilities of GE in India. It was only during the semester exams that we learnt that the whole group of interns were going to be posted here at the GE facility, Coimbatore. Finally, it was on the 12th of May that I joined GE Oil & Gas near Eachenari. The first day was one where pleasantries were exchanged and we got introduced to the people in the industry. Also, we got an overview of GE India, that particular facility and the co-interns. GE has a tradition of assigning a Guide and a Buddy to each intern and it was no different with our batch.
I was assigned to the Engineering department, and was fortunate to be entrusted to a good team that mentored me all along the projects. The purviews of the team were Valve design and the development of Bill of Materials (BoM) for various drawings. The initial few weeks were consumed in just understanding the way they work, their products, its functioning and the duties being discharged by each of them in the team. The review meetings that we attended on the shop floor gave us a clear idea of what challenges the production team faced and the various ways in which the engineering team supported them in overcoming these issues.
Having been given a free hand to identify the area of work, I along with my guide concluded that there were some sticky points relating to the creation of BoM’s that caused the majority of problems downstream. So, I started working on creating a tool using MS Excel that could simplify the process of BoM creation and reduce the errors involved as well. It was a completely new domain for me and with the assistance of the team members and internet tutorials, I was able to come up with a selection tool as envisaged by the goals of my project. The same was reviewed by the authorities by way of presentations, which is the evaluating mechanism at GE. The other goal was to design a clamping module for valve accessories, for which I undertook a detailed study of all existing modules and devised a standard design procedure. Following the established standard, I came up with a design for a new accessory and it was put to appropriate scrutiny after simulation testing.
Amidst all these activities, we interns were surprised to come across the importance GE attaches to its people and the society. First among them was the HealthAhead day, where in, the issues relating to health were brought to the notice of all employees and the awareness levels on leading a healthy life was sought to be improved. The next activity was the World Environment Day, for which we, the interns, were entrusted with the responsibility of conducting events in line with GE’s customs. It was a great experience in holding events for the employees and their families. The final set of activities was a Walkathon and a gaming session among the interns and their guides.
On the whole, I was able to have three major takeaways from the Internship. The first one of them was the technical side of things and the exposure to the functioning of an industry. The second takeaway was the one that impressed me and taught me a lot from the perspective of an individual is the ‘GE Culture’. It is one that has no barriers, enabling maximum learning and contributions. The last one is just a collection of three simple letters ‘E’ ‘H’ and ‘S’. But these three letters meaning Environment, Health and Safety changed the way we looked at certain things in our life. The amount of significance that the industry attached to these three aspects took all of us by awe and we vowed to hold their practices henceforth, wherever we go.
As you read this piece of text, you would have realized that there were more of “we’s” than “I’s”. It is simply a representation of the fact that all the interns, both from our institution and those from outside got together as a single group that enabled shared learnings throughout the Internship. At times, the ‘we’ also entails the cohesiveness between us and our guides. Overall, the experience at GE Oil and Gas, Coimbatore was an enriching one from both knowledge and personal point of view. It would always stand out as a unique summer of my undergraduate life.
VIVIN KUMAR (B.E. Mechanical, 2011-15) has varied interests ranging from Defense and Space research to Public life. He is a techie whose life motto is “enjoy reading and enrich knowledge.”
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