Karen Santos

Karen Santos studies Industrial and Systems Engineering with a minor in Humanitarian Engineering at The Ohio State University. This past summer, she completed an internship in Fargo, North Dakota at John Deere Electronic Solutions, where she worked in a manufacturing plant. She expects to graduate in 2020, when she intends to pursue a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering.

Karen Santos standing next to a John Deere sign

LSAMP: Tell me a little bit about the internship you’re completing this summer!
Karen: This summer I am working with John Deere Electronic Solutions in Fargo, North Dakota as a Manufacturing Engineering intern. Although we are a John Deere branch, we do a lot of different things compared to most manufacturing facilities. The majority of what is done has to do with the interior parts of our products, such as circuit boards, motors, and navigation systems. What is built here is essentially moved to different factories where they make the bigger size equipment from lawn mowers and tractors to cotton pickers and combines. There are five different facilities in Fargo: New Product Introduction, Power Electronic Systems, Logistics, Tooling and Facilities and the actual Manufacturing Plant. I am working in the Manufacturing Plant on a handful of different projects. One of the projects I've enjoyed the most is working on the production line design. This project allows me to work with software to build a line concept for two different work stations in the final assembly section. Essentially, my task is to create a floor plan and have it implemented in the Plant.

LSAMP: How did you get involved in this internship? What made you choose to work in this particular field? 
Karen: I applied to John Deere through the Society of Hispanic and Professional Engineers National Conference last fall. There I was introduced to current full-time engineers that touched upon their experiences. Their core values really struck me as they are a company that focuses on integrity, quality, commitment, and innovation. As a Humanitarian Engineering minor, I also wanted to work for a company that does something for the people. With a population constantly growing by the millions, what better opportunity than to work for a company that clothes, shelters, and feeds people through their products. John Deere also does a good amount of outreach through education and community development by partnering with non-profits such as Mercy Corps and United Way to find solutions for world hunger. Amongst the conversations I had with many of the engineers at the conference, I had never met a group of people so enthusiastic about their day-to-day work, so I decided to apply, and the rest was history. As an Industrial Engineer, I wanted my first internship to be in manufacturing as it would allow me to get a broad sense of the different career paths available to me and learn more about the different systematic approaches one deals with when focusing on efficiency, productive, quality, and safety. 
LSAMP: What do you enjoy most about your internship?
Karen: This internship has been a great experience for me to learn about a multitude of different things, from technical work I can use to advance in my career to achieving a broad understanding of the different sectors John Deere caters to. It’s clear that Deere cares about their employees starting with their interns. I had the opportunity to attend their Internship Conference in Moline, Illinois where I was able to learn more about the companies’ values and how they are more than just a company that makes farming equipment as most people think. I was able to hear from some of their companies’ leaders and was able to learn more about professional development through Deere. I learned about their recent acquisition of Blue River Technology, which is building the next generation of smart agriculture equipment. With a world that is quickly innovating, it was nice knowing that John Deere is on the front lines of that innovation with their own products.
LSAMP: Does your experience working at your internship connect to your future career goals?
Karen: Working at a facility that strictly handles electrical equipment has motivated me to pursue a masters in Computer Engineering. This is a long-term goal that I hope to work towards either upon graduation or while working full time. I hope to end up with John Deere as I get closer to searching for full-time opportunities as their company culture has really stood out to me. In terms of my short-term goals, every day I am discovering different aspects of Industrial Engineering; therefore, by the end of my internship I hope to know what I would like to specialize in at Ohio State as an Industrial and Systems Engineering major.