Mechanical engineering student builds skills in co-op

Undergraduate credits co-op and being a TA for success

Avyay Putsherry, who will graduate with his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering technology from the University of Cincinnati in spring 2021, said his experience as a cooperative education (co-op) worker for two automotive companies has helped give him the confidence and technical skills to prepare him for his future. Putsherry was named Undergraduate Student Engineer of the Month by the College of Engineering and Applied Science. Here, he shares his UC experience. 

Why did you choose UC?

I applied to many different universities, but UC turned out to be the most appealing to me, thanks in large part to the co-op program. I knew that obtaining real-world experience through internships would be extremely valuable because it would better prepare me for actually working as an engineer. 

Describe your co-ops and your responsibilities.

Avyay Putsherry

Avyay Putsherry. Photos/Corrie Mayer/CEAS Marketing.

My first co-op was at Mitsubishi Electric Automotive America in Mason, Ohio, which manufactures starter motors and alternators for passenger vehicles. As a quality control co-op, my primary responsibility was to record any defects found on the starter assembly lines, find potential root causes and think of potential corrective actions to prevent the defect from occurring again. I held weekly meetings to discuss my findings with supervisors from the production, engineering and quality departments. In this way, I was meant to serve as the communications bridge among these departments. This was an important role, especially for my first-ever engineering job, so I felt a real sense of responsibility and I look back on it as a great learning experience.

I’ve also co-oped in a quality control role at Robert Bosch Automotive Steering in Florence, Kentucky, which manufactures steering units for passenger vehicles. At Bosch, I learned how it felt to work at a massive global organization. I spent my first semester at Bosch learning about their quality procedures and I was responsible for streamlining some of the processes, from correcting and concisely rewording work instructions to making new, easy-to-use systems to track quality processes. My largest effort was proposing a new building-wide, user-friendly, tool-tracking system that would reduce a manual process to two clicks and a barcode scan on a computer. 

For my second semester at Bosch, I was assigned to a project to evaluate the feasibility of using automated guided vehicles (AGVs) to transport steering rack bars across the factory floor instead of having operators spend hundreds of hours walking four or five bars to testing sites spread across the building. It was one of the most exciting projects I’d worked on to date.

What was the highlight of co-op?

As an engineering student, I like to consider myself a problem solver. So, one of the most enjoyable parts of co-op was to come up with solutions to problems and see the impact of my solutions in real time. Seeing my work being implemented and effectively solving a problem or improving a process in some way feels immensely satisfying. A specific example is the tool management/tracking system I proposed when working for Bosch. This was almost entirely my own project. As long as I got it done on time I had the freedom to go about it as I saw fit, which I greatly appreciated about my experience at Bosch. 

What are your most impactful personal experiences at UC?

One of the most impactful experiences I have had at UC has been my time as a teaching assistant for the ENED1100 and ENED1120 freshmen engineering courses for three semesters. Being a teaching assistant has allowed me to develop and improve a lot of soft skills like leadership, communication and time management. It has also been an immensely satisfying job, where I am able to share my experiences with first-year students and watch them go through their own freshman engineering experience. When I’m working with a student, trying to get him or her to ask the right questions to develop an intuitive understanding of the course material, their excitement at learning something new and being able to use that knowledge skillfully is visible and contagious, and a rewarding experience. Being a teaching assistant has also shown me how rewarding it is to do work that helps others, and so I think my experience has shaped me to seek out jobs and opportunities after I graduate that can affect the people around me in a positive manner.

Looking back now, taking the teaching assistant position has allowed me to develop and improve my own skills, help students improve theirs, and most importantly, it showed me that I could push myself to improve even in areas that I initially felt I couldn’t. For this reason, I’m very proud of my experience as a TA and am thankful for that opportunity.

Why did you choose to major in mechanical engineering?

I chose to major in mechanical engineering technology because I’ve always been fascinated by mechanical systems. Building a mechanical system to me is almost like coding a computer program, except instead of computer commands you have gears, pulleys, wheels and all sorts of devices you can use, each with their unique properties. And once you are done designing and building your “program,” you can see it function right before your eyes. The satisfaction gained from designing a good system is unparalleled.

What are your future goals for after graduation?

After graduating this spring, I hope to start working towards a Master of Engineering degree in mechanical engineering this fall at UC. Long term, I hope to find a quality control/design engineering job, especially at a company that is pursuing sustainability and/or renewable energy, since I think that would let me make the most impact with the knowledge and skills I’ve obtained from my years at UC.

Interested in becoming an engineering Bearcat?

Check out the CEAS Viewbook to learn about co-op and discover how you can become a student in UC's College of Engineering and Applied Science