Internship - Mechanical Engineer

Our People
2 Aug

My name is Dylan Speir, I am twenty-two years old and I have recently finished my fourth year of studying aero-mechanical engineering at the University of Strathclyde. I am currently enjoying an eight-week internship program with Gibson Robotics this summer before I enter my master’s year at Strathclyde.

My role at Gibson Robotics this summer has been as lead mechanical engineer. At the moment, we are a team of four and we each have our own area of focus, with mine clearly being on the mechanical components. The other main areas are systems and project/company management. As the project has progressed, some of the areas have begun to merge, and so we do work together and cross check our work frequently.

My main task of the summer has been to design a drone capture mechanism. In other words, some sort of mechanical device that can be used by a friendly drone to apprehend other “enemy” drones. These “enemies” could have malicious intentions or simply be trespassing in restricted areas such as airports or military bases. I was tasked with coming up with a novel idea and then developing it from a simple design to a working prototype. The prototype was never expected to be perfect, only enough to provide a proof of concept which could be taken to the next stage of the startup’s journey towards commercialisation and a successful final product.

I was lucky to come up with a unique idea very quickly, so I was able to jump straight in to researching what I needed my design to do and how exactly it was going to do it. Once I had all the information and got it working theoretically, I was able to move on to using computer models to run simulations and evaluate the designs mathematically. Now I have reached the point where I can bring my ideas to life as early prototypes and test them in real world scenarios, before resorting back to more research to solve any problems that arise. I have to say, this is best stage, getting to hold everything I have designed in my hands and seeing it really work (or fail).

My experience so far at Gibson Robotics has been very good. It has felt in some ways like a university project where you are given a challenge and you need to use what you have learned in class to solve it. However, in this case the challenge is a lot bigger, there is not the same guidance, and you have to use everything that you have learned at university as well as teach yourself everything you have not. But just as the task is much greater, so too is the reward.

Like never before, I have been able to put what I have learned throughout my time in education into practice within real life applications as the expert in my field. I have been given the opportunity to use this knowledge creatively to help design and create something revolutionary within a new and growing sector soon to be one of the most important in the future of engineering. In doing this I have learned so much about how to work and succeed in the engineering industry, and all about the benefits and hinderances that come from working out with of education. As well as developing and cementing all the technical knowledge I have learned and how to use it practically. Even more rewards come from the fact that Gibson Robotics is a small personal startup company.

Working for a startup is very rewarding and satisfying, as I know my work is making a big difference to the company and that it would not happen without me. At all times I know everything that is going on within the company, my suggestions and thoughts are taken always taken into account, and at no point have I been left to feel like a lowly “intern” rather than an equal and integral member of the team. Everyone within the company knows each other and the atmosphere is more like that of a professional family than simply a group of colleagues.  

As I have mentioned, the rewards I have gained from working at Gibson Robotics are plentiful but it is not all easy and what you get from this type of internship is entirely up to you and how much work you put into it. It is important to be able to motivate yourself and continue to push forward with your tasks without constant guidance and reminders from anyone else. Your project/area is your own, so it is up to you to make sure it is successful. The rest of the team are always happy to help and it is helpful to have someone with a different mindset and perspective to look at something, but they are all also equally as busy with their own tasks and they will often not have the expertise that you will have in your area. As is the situation within an early but successful start-up. I recommend that those who are interested in working here keep all of the above in mind to judge if they are the right person for the job.

On a final note, at Gibson robotics I have been given the freedom to be as independent, inventive, and innovative as I can be while still having support and communication from a very capable team. What I have gained here I will carry on with me through my whole career and I will always feel personally attached to the hopefully continued success of the company.