Doing the work that Matters as a STEM Student Trainee

August 3, 2023

Hello again, I’m back to share more about my experiences as a high school intern at Caterpillar this summer! These past few weeks have been nothing but great. Since my last post, I was assigned more kits to work on, as well as a new drawing change project, and the opportunity to publicly speak in a meeting with others. 

I was recently tasked with a thermal bypass kit for small wheel loaders, which focuses on thermal control. While many machines at Caterpillar work in relatively ideal environments temperature wise, some work in colder settings that may be too harsh on the machine if not managed correctly. The thermal bypass kit helps regulate the temperature of oil, which is vital to the operation of the machine. Alongside the thermal bypass kit, I have been working on a 3rd function auxiliary lines kit. These kits allow the machines to connect to and power many different hydro-mechanical work tools such as grapple buckets and brooms. This kit has challenged me more than some of the others, as it includes hardware components that I was previously unfamiliar with, like hydraulic hoses and valves. Through the challenges I have faced with this kit, the team I work on is always willing to help and answer any question I may have. 

Shortly after being assigned new kit instructions, I was given the opportunity to work on a drawing change for a product. Drawings are associated with parts in the Caterpillar system, so when modifications or new releases are made, the drawing needs to be changed accordingly. While this may sound like a simple process, it takes a great deal of time and understanding to get used to the software needed to perform the changes. For the past few days, I have been meeting with one of the engineers on my team to make the appropriate changes and carry out the proper change notice procedures. Throughout this process, I was able to speak on a conference call to introduce the topic of the drawing change. As of now, I am almost done with the process, and I am excited to see the results!

Alongside the work I’ve been doing, I was presented with the super cool opportunity to learn how to weld! I headed down to one of the shops for half an hour, and I was able to learn about the machinery that makes welding possible. I was taught various welding techniques and was even able to practice on pieces of scrap metal. I spent a good amount of time practicing and ended up with perfectly acceptable welds on some pieces. While I am no professional welder, being able to do something like that for the first time was great. After this, I was able to use a plasma cutter for the first time. I practiced on some more scrap metal and ended up making a smooth cut. The opportunity to test out tools I have never used before has been a highlight of the past few weeks!

My time working here has truly been great, and I’m sad to know that I have only three more weeks to go. Being able to work in an environment like this has been incredibly enjoyable, and I’m always surrounded by a very intelligent group of people. I’ll be checking in one last time before I leave, and then I’ll be starting my school year. Thanks for taking the time to read a little bit about my experiences!

Allison in front of a small wheel loader
Allison welding