Bearkat Internships: Dillon Gathright
Sept. 6, 2023
SHSU Media Contact: Mikah Boyd
Some things cannot be learned in a large lecture hall and Dillon Gathright, a graduating senior at Sam Houston State University, knows this from both college and real-life experiences.
Gathright transferred to SHSU as an electronics and computer engineering technology major after spending a couple of years at Texas A&M University. Since moving to SHSU, he has been pleasantly surprised to have much smaller class sizes and close relationships with his peers and instructors. That was not the last of his campus culture shocks. Gathright also adapted to a change in the instruction format.
“What I know that A&M students don’t is what all of this equipment is and how to use it; that sort of thing is what they were looking for in me at Sam,” Gathright said.
Here, his classes were less focused on the theoretical aspects of the field and dove more into the mechanical side of things with hands-on learning in labs. The skills he learned in these courses helped to prepare him for his summer internship at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL).
SEL is based in Washington state and creates digital products that protect, control and automate power systems worldwide. Gathright spent his summer at one of the company’s satellite offices in West Houston, gaining priceless on-the-job training and practice at measuring signals with an oscilloscope, testing and repairing relays and working with programmable logic controllers.
“Our office has an office level and then a lab level,” Gathright explained. “Customers will bring in issues that they need to fix with relays or new relays that need to be tested or configured. We’d do the work for that, designing the schematics of how it’s going to be wired up and everything, then go to the basement and then actually do all those wirings and test everything.”
The downstairs labs contain large racks with numerous relays, all which must be wired in a specific manner and go through multiple rounds of testing to ensure the output signals are correct and properly timed. While there were some tasks he wasn’t quite ready for, Gathright found that his courses at Sam set him up for success at SEL.
“There’s definitely a lot of overlap. If I hadn’t taken all of those lab courses, I probably would have had no idea what I was doing in the lab,” Gathright said of his work at SEL. “It’s similar stuff, just on a higher scale. You’re doing all the basic things in class, but it really matters when you’re going into the real world.”
Gathright’s work during his internship impressed those within the company, leading to them offering him a full-time position upon graduation, an offer he is happy to accept.
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