Aaron F.

January 7th – January 14th (0 hours) –   I contacted Andy to start up the internship for semester two. I begin on Tuesday, January 14th. I called Andy to start this semester off in a professional and official manner.

I have learned how to use software that IBM uses to code their machines and software that has been used to design motherboards and other cards that their machines used. My mentor has been Mark and Mike when using these applications. Mike has helped me learn how to code to a limited extent and the code that we created was used to help IBM find data that will be used in their advertisement. Mark uses the card design software as a hobby and he was able to teach me because he enjoys it so much. He was able to sit down with me and work on other things while I tinkered around on the software and he could just help me out with how to work things out because there is a lot to learn in card design.

I am going to take classes in college that encompass coding and mechanical design and simulation. The knowledge of card design probably won’t be used to a large extent in my future because of the career I want to follow not being in electrical engineering. It’ll be more of a sub-set of mechanical engineering so CAD software is going to be more beneficial to me. In my career, I will need to be highly proficient in CAD and other simulation software and I think I will be able to get good experience in higher level CAD software where I can because I don’t have to pay for it myself.

Catia is a high-level CAD software. It has many capabilities including simulation capabilities that can tell the engineer how his object will function in real life. This software is extremely expensive and it allows engineers to be very efficient in what and how they do their job.

January 15th – January 28th (8.92 hours) –  Over the last two week, I started up my visit’s to IBM once again. Overall it was fairly lack-luster and I didn’t do any amazingly interesting tasks but important none the less. My tasks included unpacking a frame that had been sitting in the shipping area since last September and taking it into the main lab and loading and unloading several thousand tape cartridges from old frames. The cartridges that I ended up working with are mostly labeled as “non-functional” and such so people know they don’t have any information on them because they are supposed to be used to test frames with real cartridges for functionality and also to show that functionality to customers. Another function is to show the true capacity of these frames as one frame can hold several hundred cartridges and a library, several thousand. This a very important capability of the frames and a very important selling point. All this was stressed to me over the last few weeks while I was doing my tasks.

Tape Storage. Tape is an old method of data storage that was invented in the late-1920’s by a man in Germany. In the time since it was used to a large extent in computers to store data until better and quicker forms of data storage were utilized. Nowadays it isn’t used as much in consumer-level operations but it is used extensively in longer-term storage areas. These include medical and bank records or social media outlets that need to store old information.

January 29th – February 11th (14.75 hours) – Over the last two weeks, I was trusted with repeating the responsibilities that I had to complete last semester but this time with less supervision. I was given the task of unloading cartridges, unwiring, and uncoupling the libraries that were to be removed from the lab. There were thousands of cartridges that needed to be unloaded and I was unable to get them all before the big clean-up day. During this log, I was also able to work with Brenda for a good portion of the time I was there. I was able to sit in a meeting with some potential vendors who presented products that IBM could use on their electronics and it was cool to see how that process works even if I didn’t really understand much of what was being said at the meeting. I also worked on a board layout project with Brenda and I got more practice with the layout program and I was able to work through a good portion of the layout. Last Friday was the big cleanup day and I arrived early to be able to help out the whole time. We were continuing what I had been working on the last few weeks when I was unloading cartridges only with the whole department working to clean out the labs. This was a cool experience because I got to mingle with more people and got to work with a large group of people which I rarely get to do. It was a nice change of pace from what I do normally.

When I started at IBM I was going in with the understanding that not only will I be doing mundane and less-than-vital tasks but, I would also be learning about topics that I was not overly interested in and weren’t going to do in the future if I had any say in the matter. These topics included electrical work, card design, and coding. I was and still am intrigued by the topics and I think that are topics that are vital to future developments but, they don’t interest me enough for me to want to dive into the fields much further than basic understanding. Because of this, I decided to make it one of my SMART goals to learn some of the basics because I figured there would be no better place to learn then at IBM where there are professional coders who do it for a living. I had started to learn to code early on in my Junior year in my PLTW Engineering II class. It wasn’t comprehensive and the software that was used was just for a certain product line. In all honesty, I had no true interest in coding but, I think it is important to learn about things that could be useful potentially even if they are not of interest to people. That’s where I was when I was supposed to learn the basics of coding the BASH script with Mike. He told me about a project where he wanted to take information from the tape drives and the DSC cards to find the power draw of the drives individually. He wanted to use something called the I2C bus on the DSC card. Someone he knew had developed the I2C tool that he would use to get the information from the drives. Using the tool Mike said that we(primarily him) could develop a BASH script using Python to measure the power draw of these drives and display them in a way that is easy to read and comprehend. Over the course of many weeks of me visiting IBM Mike taught me some of the very basics of the coding. We had to take the information from the DSC using the I2C tool to get the raw data of 1’s and 0’s into a hex code that could be translated into data that can be changed around and manipulated. We used the I2C tool to take the raw data into a script that could convert or translate the data into hex. Hex codes could be used to get more information then could be retrieved from the 1’s and 0’s. From the hex to normal code I really didn’t have much input as Mike had to do the majority of the work. Credit to him he tried to explain some of what he was doing but I found it difficult to understand and grasp fully. The next steps were to use Python to make a code that turned the new data from different components into wattage from the drives. This I was able to help with because it required basic commands and equations that I had a basic understanding of. Using this understanding we created a script that was able to take inputs from the DSC and output a table that showed the wattage of the drives and the column and row of each drive. This showed the power draw of each drive which could be put on informational booklets and given to potential customers so they could have more info to consider before purchasing. Through the code, it could also show where there is a drive and where there isn’t and this could help technicians in troubleshooting certain issues. I learned a lot and left with a ton of question when I completed this goal and now I have a greater appreciation for people who have a full level of understanding of coding. It is almost an art form that requires an understanding of advanced mathematics and learning all of it in a new language.

Python is a coding language that is widely seen as one of the most versatile and useful coding languages. It is open source so people in the community can help others and fix any issues that arise. Also, a code can be copied and used in other people’s codes when it needs to be used.

February 12th – February 25th (8 hours) – During this log, I had to do some pretty mundane tasks throughout which was kind of a relief because it was a break from the more complicated stuff I didn’t always understand. I was labeling frames and tightening down some of the components so they can be sent to the storage facility they are being sent to. Next, I had to search through a lab that is basically a storage room to find some hard drive storage units that needed to be trashed. That was interesting because they weigh like 130lbs and they were stacked by five units. I also had to unload some cartridges that were left over in some other frames that weren’t taken out of the lab when we had the big clean-up day.

Hard drive storage units are meant to be mounted in server racks so they have rails and are able to be stacked in the racks to efficiently pack them together. They enable fast data storage and transfer and allow people to easily exchange drives from the front of the unit itself.

February 26th – March 11th (4.08 hours) –  Over this log, I was able to work more with the testing that I was assigned to work on with the MDA cards. Albeit simple in how to complete it, it was time-consuming and is important to complete. It more so made me understand the importance of testing these cards because several of them were actually used after I had tested them in other tests. This project was interesting and I spent a lot of time on it. That being said there were often other things that were needed to be done as well. One of these was to move hard drive units onto pallets and to the shipping area for disposal and to take old frames and to pack them for long term storage at an off-site location. These are all the typical mundane tasks that are needed to be done all the time and it was a nice change of pace from testing the MDA cards.

During my time at Empire in my Sophomore and Junior years, I took my school’s Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Engineering I & II courses. In these courses, I learned the basics of engineering design, processes, and I was able to work in groups to learn how to cooperate and achieve a goal. Along with all that I was also able to learn the basics of working with CAD software. The software I used was Autodesk Inventor Pro and it was a really fun part of my time while I was in the program. I was usually the go-to the person with help for working in the software and it was really interesting and fun for me. At IBM I was shown a few different software that is used at IBM to create the items they use. These include Allegro which is a motherboard design software and Catia which is a top of the line 3-D CAD software like Inventor but better for large projects. I started working with Allegro during the last few weeks of last semester with Mark and he taught me some of the basics of the program and how I was to use the blueprints on documents to make boards that can be printed and used. That little project was pushed aside after a while for larger projects that needed to be done. This semester I was able to work more with Allegro with Brenda because there was a product that was going to be tested and in order for it to be tested the surface mounting points needed to be created. Brenda let me work on this and it was really cool because it was so much like the other CAD software I had used but almost 2-D. There was a lot to think about when working with all the components and wires and such and it was a real learning curve and I really enjoyed it. Only recently was I able to dive into the world of Catia where I felt the most comfortable. I was kind of nervous at first when I started because I had heard about Catia and I was worried that it would be a hard learning curve like it was when I had first started to learn Inventor. That was not the case however and I was able to catch on to the basics pretty easily. Catia was different in many ways from Inventor. First off the version of Catia being used was several years old, 2012 if my memory is correct, and the version of Inventor I used was the 2018 professional version which at the time was the most up-to-date. Because of this, the graphics level was different for the two and Catia looked older and more pixelated. That was the really obvious difference which was honestly extremely negligible because it really had no effect on how it worked. The major differences were in the layout and the different tools that the two programs had. In Catia the tools are laid out differently and there were different steps that were needed in order to do things that would take fewer steps in Inventor. These would be like sketching and navigating different parts, assemblies, and drawings. Overall Inventor seemed to be easier to use than Catia but, that is probably just my bias as I learned on Inventor and spent the better part of two years using it for large amounts of time for school projects and whatnot. After I was done learning the basics of Catia I had expected to be done but they actually put me to work on changing the names of different objects for a real project and changing some parts. The project was for insulated frames that are air-conditioned. There are pieces of foam, different latches, and gaskets that seal the frames that need to be made in order to make it work and I was happy to take a small part in the process of making it all official. A cool little thing that really liked was when I made drawings of the parts I was told to put my initials on the paper and even though that’s in completely insignificant I thought that it was cool.

ThinkPad was the section of IBM that was for personal computers and they were the most durable and reliable laptops in the world. In the early 2000’s Lenovo bought the brand and IBM lost their personal laptop development teams and now IBM primarily uses Lenovo laptops and they have special partnerships.

March 12th – March 25th (16.79 hours) – Over this time period, I was able to work more because we were on break. I started off just working on the mundane stuff that I normally work like packing frames and testing the MDA cards. I got to branch out a little bit more over this log. I got to try out Catia and that was probably the highlight of my break. Catia is a CAD program that is widely considered one of the best CAD programs for higher level designers and it was really interesting to be able to use it. I got to work on a big project that is going on at IBM where they are developing air-conditioned libraries and they need to model new insulation and doors that properly seal the frames to ensure a temperature can be held. It was cool to be able to use the program and see how it’s like what I learned to use at school and see how they are different. Another cool thing that stuck out to me during all this was that I was able put my initials on some of the drawings I did and despite this being pretty redundant it was cool to me to do.

MDA is the Motor Drive Assemble card that controls the robotic accessor in the library. It is one of a few controller cards in a library that acts as the brain of those specific sections. 

March 26th – April 8th (8.54 hours) – Over this log, I did some pretty mundane tasks for the majority of the time. I continued to test the Motor Drive Assembly(MDA) cards and because of the amount of time that is required to test the cards, it took up almost all the time I was at IBM. The process of testing the cards includes removing the cover of the card and then powering it up and connecting it to either the library or the computer to load the correct code level into the card. The process with the computer was tedious because the computer was old and sometimes couldn’t complete the download and I would need to restart it a few times. With the library however it streamlined the process and allowed me to mount it and download it without having to worry about the download failing and then because it was already mounted I was able to just test the MDA in the same library. This process took about twenty minutes for each MDA and there were dozens of them to test so it took a vast amount of my time to complete. Despite the repetitiveness of this task it was interesting to me to complete because I had to be observant the whole time as to how the card was acting and performing to make sure that it actually worked and this is a large part of what engineers do and it was cool to actually be able to take part in that process.

The internship has done a lot to help me grow throughout my senior year. I learned to really take my time on what I’m working on and to also time manage more. I learned to keep my mind, eyes, ears open to learn new things that would inevitably help me later when I had a task that was related to the knowledge I took in earlier. It has really reflected a lot on everything I do and will continue to do so until I die probably.

I would recommend that future interns keep an open mind for anything that could happen at their internship sites. I went into IBM almost dreading it because they do a lot of electrical engineering and I want to do more mechanical engineering and I was pretty surprised by how interesting it all was. People really need to keep an open mind but also understanding that they will be doing mundane and non-vital tasks for the majority of the time because that’s what they will be doing for the majority of the time. They should also be ready to work hard in order to try and impress their mentors because that will help them get a better stance there and it could help them in the future.

IBM is a company that I intern at and has been a forerunner of technological advances since the 1950s and they continue to make large leaps in that field. In the early days, they were making very large advances but in recent years they having been making relatively smaller strides but still significant. Recently they have made strides in the fields of AI and quantum computing but also in their Summit supercomputer which is the biggest in the world.

April 9th – April 22nd (8.1 hours) – Over this log, I finalized a lot of the stuff for finishing off the semester. I got my rubric filled out with my mentor and I planned out my schedule for the next few weeks. My last day will be May 1st. I worked with Mark and Brenda on some more testing projects. Basically to plug stuff in to see if it will work or not. This took up the majority of the time I was there because of how long it took to test stuff and the number of items to test. I also worked with Mark on a broken library where we replaced a bunch of components. The library was really broken and really old so we had to work a bit to find parts and to actually put it all back together. I felt a little nostalgia because of how soon I will be leaving IBM. It was an awesome experience to be able to work there for the little time I was there and I will actually really miss going there.

Printed circuit boards are the circulatory system of all electronics. They act as the framework and blood vessels of electronics. They guide wires and connect components to other components to make the device work. I made some and worked with a bunch of them over my time at IBM.

July 20th – August 13th (9.75) – I got to meet many people at the internship site. It was really cool being on the IBM site and talking to engineers who made the products being tested. I also get to learn about the company and its history. There is also a ton of work to be done around that is interesting busy work which is really nice to do.

I want to learn the components of the libraries. I also want to learn how to fix things that break. I want to be able to operate things overall. I think it would be beneficial to the group because they could just leave me to work and not waste their time.

I have learned how to switch out the fiber-optic cables from multi mode frequency to single mode frequency. I learned how to replace fans in the drives. I learned how to run tests in the libraries to verify drives. I learned how to switch cartridges and switch out lcc cards.

August 14th – August 27th (8.37 hours) – The two weeks were very interesting because I was able to work more in the libraries being prepared to be sent to the customers. I am becoming more proficient at what I’m supposed to do and I’m able to shave time off tasks that used to take me much longer to complete. For example I have to remove fiber-optic cables from the libraries and when I first did it, it took me an entire two hour session and half an hour the next day. Now it’s my third time and it takes me an hour and a half. This allows me to work on other things as well in a day. The monotonous tasks that I have to do are extensive and time consuming. I had to remove an excess of 150 tape cartridges from a library and relocate them to the environmental room. The environmental room is a lab where they put libraries into where they can adjust the temperature and humidity to make sure all the components work to despite varying environmental conditions. I was able to spend some time in the environmental room with Phil and he spent some time talking about his time at IBM and how he’s a contractor that works even though he’s retired. He talks about how the company has changed over the time he’s worked there. On the last day of this log time frame I was sick and had to leave early and as I was leaving Mark talked to me about how it’s important to know your limits and when you should and shouldn’t push yourself. He used me being sick as an example that it’s good to push yourself to get something done but there’s a chance that you could hurt yourself more by pushing yourself. It was a really good talk and I’m thankful I could remember it through the headache I had.

I have created my own copy of the above information.

August 28th – September 10th (8.17 hours) – These last few weeks have been fairly simple and interesting. The first week of the log was pretty boring, I was throwing away a walls worth of miscellaneous tech, scraps, and tools. I felt like a janitor and for two hours I was almost falling asleep. Despite this I did the job. The next day I was really just sitting around waiting for drives to verify which includes moving a mouse and clicking three times then waiting for two hours. The next week however was far more interesting. I was introduced to the manufacturing part of what I do. We were packing up frames onto pallets and moving them to a designated area to ship out. It was a lengthy process to set up the libraries and pack them up. The next day we were setting up a new library was an equally long and extensive process. It was really fun because it was more hands on with tools and physically manhandling frames. It was a lot of fun.

There is no expectation at my internship site regarding my conduct or personality that goes further then acting professional and interacting with people well. My personality has no issues with functioning well at IBM. The internship has moments when it’s really unprofessional and it’s just fun and comical. Other times it’s just do what needs to be done but don’t feel obligated to do anything because this is supposed to be fun. We all have the same personality and the only difference is the age and education level as I clearly have a lot I need to learn.

My site is a natural fit for my personality. I know Andy personally so we can talk really easily. The people in the labs are easy to talk to and have personalities that I find easy to talk with. The people there also have an openness to them and a willingness to help me when I have a problem. They also spend a lot of time teaching me how to do things and they explain processes really well and they help me with things whenever I need them. I don’t have to work at all to fit in personality wise at IBM. Everything works well and I really enjoy working there.

When I first started I needed to learn what I’d be working with, that being tape drive libraries. Tape drives are basically super high capacity CD’s. Libraries are sets of frames that work together to read write and store information.

September 11th – September 24th (8.42 hours) – The last two weeks were fairly interesting and an nice change of pace. I did some of the same stuff I have always done, that being pulling fiber cables out of libraries and just doing anything that needs done. But I had a chance to go to a different section of the building for about an hour where they develop and research new tape drive tech. It was truly interesting to see the intricacy and precision involved in the process of creating and developing the drives. Later into the week I spent some time with Brenda who wanted me to learn some of the basics of how the motherboards work. Her example was an LCC card that wasn’t booting and she wanted us to walk though figuring out what the problem was. The issue was rare but happened in about ten cards that they have made they wanted to make sure it didn’t happen again. We tested different parts of the card to see if it was the cause of the issue. She taught me how to solder so I could remove components so they can be tested. I thought that was especially cool because it’s a skill that I’ve never learned how to do and it could be really useful in the future. Through all this I really learned more about the IBM standard for perfection. Many of their products have a 99.999% reliability rate. This kind of rating only come through through and endless testing of equipment to ensure that reliability.

A task I am often assigned is to remove fiber cables. Fiber cables are fiber optic cables and two kinds are used frequently at IBM. Single-mode and Multi-mode, single mode is better for sending smaller amounts of data over long distances and multi-mode is better for shorter distances and more information. The company that the libraries are being sent to have a preference for multi-mode so the pre-installed single-mode needs to be removed and replaced.

September 25th – October 8th (19.25 hours) – Over this log, I was able to work longer hours because we were on break which was really beneficial because I was able to work more and catch up on more than I normally would have on the few times I am able to attend during normal school time. During this log, I was able to go further into what they do at IBM and I was able to learn some of it. For example, Mark taught me card layout and I was able to practice and see actual cards designed by IBM. Card Layout is using a computer program to put a motherboard together with all the components and wires being put in optimal places. It was really interesting because it was like a really complex puzzle. One with pieces that wildly vary in size and they can fit in many orientations and there are layers to the puzzle. It was really interesting to see that process and see how the concepts I was being taught could be used on larger scale cards.

I usually use in-person conversations when I am at my internship. It works for what I have to do because I am usually under no obligations at my internship where I need to communicate with people more than just getting instructions and following them. When I have to communicate with people when I am not at my internship I use email or I’ll call them. I use this primarily when I have questions for Andy because I’ll be either at school or I won’t be able to talk to him because he’s busy with something. It all works seamlessly for what I need to be able to do.

It is very easy to exercise these at my internship because it works perfectly with what I have to do there. It enables quick and easy information sharing and conveying of ideas. Because it is so informal I don’t need to document or keep conversations on record or anything like that really.

A tape cartridge is like a vcr tape. The only difference is that it can hold terrabytes and terrabytes of data where a typical tape could hold a few megabytes. It is a cost-effective way to store data long term for companies because they have a high storage density and low cost that allows for a large about of data to be stored. It also has a thirty-year minimum shelf life. Which is much longer than hard drives.

October 9th – October 22nd (9.25 hours) – This log session was interesting because I was able to dive into a different area of what they do at IBM. This section was the coding and scripting section. I have a very limited understanding of coding so I was really walking with training wheels the whole time. This whole project was precluded to when there was an issue a few weeks ago and me and Mike were working on figuring it out and the possibility of me writing a BASH script in the I2C tool to find the power draw. If you don’t understand that no worries neither do I. I have been able to learn some surface aspects of the script and how some things work together to make something work. I also had my site visit last week and it was a good break from the norm and I could have some practice in presenting what it is I do at IBM.

A script is a line of code that is written to complete a specific task. They can be uploaded to machines through many ways and then we can test to see if the script actually works. They can be helpful because they allow for quick editing of processes and the creation of new processes all together.

October 23rd – November 5th (4.33 hours) – During this log, I was able to learn more about coding and the logic behind it. It was interesting to see the capabilities that the coding could have and the potential that it had for there to have complex processes done. Because my required hours are complete I was able to discuss the remainder of the semester with Andy schedule wise and what things I should do and expect to do. Because of the approaching holidays, Andy was clear that because of the lax of this internship then if schedule changes are needed to be made then they can be made with little issue.

I have yet to intern with my mentor actually. I always work with people that work under Andy and have specific jobs that they have. I give me insight into what people do in different disciplines of engineering. But this group of people is very relaxed and is easy to talk to so there isn’t a whole ton of formality required but, I still try and act professionally for respect reasons.

I am always socially in contact with people other than my mentor. I do this out of necessity because I am never with Andy but the group of people is always very social. They are easy to talk to when I have questions that don’t necessarily need to relate to the internship. It’s is usually really good advice and is very helpful.

CAD is an acronym for Computer Aided Design. It is a tool to design parts and components for the products. Through CAD programs we could create the parts in a 3-D printer or a CNC machine to actually create the part to see if it actually works or fits.

November 6th – November 19th (8 hours) – During this log I was able to work more with the coding project, testing to see if it’ll actually work on a real machine. We found some issues at first but they were random and not easy to fix. This was worked around by just taking many measurements and averaging them to get a close to real value for the power consumption. After this was over I worked with Mark in the coding lab to remodel the area and taking out old libraries and putting in new ones. It got pretty tedious because all the frames had cartridges in them and we had to remove all of them by hand. There was a lot and it took a ton of time. It was simple though and a good break from the coding project.

I was always there when scheduled every week. When there were issues I made sure to call at least a day ahead when I could. For example I was sick and missed a day and another time I had a band performance and I didn’t have clean clothes and I was not fit to come in. I always showed up on time and prepared to do whatever was needed to be done. Whenever I needed to miss or just whenever I had something to talk about I would email if it wasn’t urgent and I would call if it had any urgency. This worked well and got everything done in a professional manner.

I feel I was very punctual and on time all semester. I never missed a day without telling Andy and that was only because of special circumstances. It was difficult at first to balance my time because of the amount of stuff I needed to do. That being my schoolwork, band, and the internship. It was very hard at first but it got easier as the semester went on. It almost became second nature to go to band on some days and the internship the rest. Next semester there’s no band and I won’t have a zero hour either so balancing everything will be a breeze.

Tape storage that is developed at IBM is aimed at large corporations to use in data libraries. It is ultra-scaleable and ultra-durable and can fit the needs of large companies ranging from Facebook to Microsoft. These are relatively cheap and can hold a large amount of data for a relatively low price per gigabyte. This is cheap and reliable and allows companies to reliably and cheaply store data.