Gentex engineer Julie Eigenbrod spent a good portion of her internship in a darkroom test facility working with an automated device called a goniometer. It holds cameras at precise angles to evaluate their field of vision. She has worked at Gentex for two years now, but still remembers her reaction to her first assignment the summer she interned.
“My intern assignment was to design a system that allowed the goniometer camera testing to have less manual setup and to be more reliable and repeatable,” she said.
She decided to create a projection system that positions on rails and tracks a camera to a projector and a target screen.
“I haven’t heard of interns leading these types of projects involving the entire design process,” she explained.
Julie had plenty of experiences to compare with her Gentex internship: during her freshman and sophomore years in college, she interned at Magna Mirrors. Working in the area and in the industry, Gentex had come up in conversations and piqued her interest. She sought out Gentex at Purdue University’s Industrial Roundtable when applying for internships in 2020.
“I had heard great things about Gentex’s atmosphere and work-life balance, and I still wanted to spend my summer in West Michigan, so Gentex seemed like the right place to intern at.”
Additionally, the Gentex experience provided her with a unique side-by-side comparison of two companies in the same industry. “It allowed me to compare experiences so I could make direct observations concerning culture and problem-solving logistics,” she said.
When her internship ended, parts of the goniometer project still needed tweaking—so Julie volunteered to stick around on a part-time basis to complete it. After graduating from Purdue in 2021 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, that turned into a full-time position in Gentex’s testing department. Julie’s internship capstone project has become a critical part of Gentex’s testing procedures to ensure that the cameras made in Zeeland precisely match automotive manufacturer specifications.
“My boss and team had full faith in me and were extremely supportive whenever I needed extra assistance during my internship,” she said. “The great environment and leadership opportunities led me to consider a future full-time career at Gentex.”
“Now, I work every day with the same team I interned with. I think having the opportunity to get a preview of what my day-to-day work life could be like was super significant to my success now as a salaried Gentex employee,” she said.
My boss and team had full faith in me and were extremely supportive whenever I needed extra assistance during my internship. The great environment and leadership opportunities led me to consider a future full-time career at Gentex. Now, I work every day with the same team I interned with. I think having the opportunity to get a preview of what my day-to-day work life could be like was super significant to my success as a salaried Gentex employee.
Julie now works on higher profile projects that include collaboration with multiple divisions of Gentex at once. A recent project she is proud of is creating equipment for the corporate labs’ prototype development and research of the new eSight Glasses. She is also looking forward to combining efforts with her design team to fabricate new testers for a brand-new fire protection production line.
After more than a year on the job full-time, she shares this advice to anyone considering a role at Gentex: “Let your curiosity drive your experiences here,” she said. “You never know what projects you’ll come across and what solutions you can find if you keep an open mind.”
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