Reflections on my Hardware Engineering Internship

Heyo peeps –

Just finished up my ‘first-year internship’ at Acoustic Wells (AW), an Internet of Things (IOT) startup in Greentown labs, a climate-tech incubator. AW works on end-to-end automation and efficiency improvements for oil wells via IOT. I worked as a ‘hardware’ or EE intern designing, testing, and debugging PCB’s & writing firmware for sensing and datalogging IOT units.

I’m super grateful to everyone who made it possible for me to have had this opportunity during 2020. After a summer of onsite work, here are my top takeaways.

A quick note - while I worked there, AW hardware was in a prototyping & early development phase - our focus was on designing systems that worked and ones we could deploy ASAP. We spent much less time simulating & testing systems to be robust in the long term.

General Engineering-y Learnings:

Documentation 💯

Design Reviews

Lean hardware prototyping

The ideology of good debugging:

When testing sensing circuitry in particular, always try testing first in a Faraday Cage (an RF-free env.) and then outside of the cage – the difference may be surprising. Problems in analog circuits dealing with low value signals in particular often come down to elmininating RF noise.

Beware of shitty instrumentation, especially if purchased from China. Your instrumentation is technically part of your test enviornment too.

EE & Hardware-specific Learnings

It would be nice to have …

That’s it for my takeaways. I’ll try to jump around to different fields for future internships and try firmware / embedded systems design in the future; but ultimately we’ll see what 2021 has in store.

Also, a huge shoutout to my coworkers and boss. They rock. Love you Sara, Colin, Seb, Ben, and the rest of the AW team. Looking forward to working together again in the future!

The team, out on Sebastien’s sailboat