Interning at General Electric and Harris Corporation brings student Abdul Alsaidi’s career goals into reach
By Madinah Muhammad
From working on train locomotives for General Electric to analyzing radar signals for defense aerospace contractor Harris Corporation, Metropolitan Campus senior Abdul Alsaidi, from Paterson, N.J., is building the foundation for a successful career with innovative internships.
With a major in electrical engineering and a minor in math, Alsaidi will complete his studies at Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2018 with a Bachelor’s and Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from the Gildart Haase School of Computer Sciences and Engineering.
FDU: How did you find out about your internships?
Abdul Alsaidi: I found out about the General Electric (GE) internship at the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) regional conference in New York. They had a career fair where GE representatives were present and I was hired on the spot after my interview. I worked as a test engineer intern located in Erie, Pa., where I was responsible for working on freight train locomotives, testing for specifications and validating them.
I learned about the internship opportunity at Harris Corporation through INROADS. INROADS is a non-profit organization focused on development and career preparation for talented, underserved youth in business and the STEM fields. The organization connects students with corporations for paid internships and professional experience for success. At Harris, I work as a systems engineer intern in Clifton, N.J.
Right: Abdul Alsaidi at General Electric Transportation with a BNSF Railway train in Erie, P.A. (Photos courtesy of Alsaidi)
FDU: What did you enjoy most about your internship?
AA: What I enjoy the most about my internship at Harris are the different types of projects I work on. During the summer, I was in the lab daily helping to develop lab tools that optimized data processing. I used a radar system, using spectrum analyzer, and a function generator to capture the data and process it. The data collected faced rigorous testing to determine if the system met certain specifications before going into production.
FDU: What FDU resources and classes helped to prepare you for your internship?
AA: Donna Jackson-Robertson, University director at the Metropolitan Campus Career Development Center, provided me with mentoring and great advice when it came to deciding which internship opportunity was best for me. I also posted my resume on CareerShift and Career Quest for potential employers to access.
Also, the majority of my system classes proved to be beneficial since I perform a great deal of signal analysis during my internship at Harris. For example, Digital Signal Processing taught me how to analyze signals by determining what the signal is doing and how it is relating to the system. Logic System Design introduced me to field-programmable gate array (FPGA), a kind of computer chip. Harris heavily utilizes FPGA, so knowing how to work with and around them is very helpful. Signals and Systems II taught me a great deal about filters and the fundamentals on how the math works with filtering. Understanding this was a big stepping-stone in helping me to grasp how things operated.
FDU: What did you learn from your internship experience?
AA: I learned how to communicate in a team environment. I also learned how to share my thoughts and ideas and turn them into actionable ideas my team could understand. I had the advantage of working with teams as large as 15 and as small as three.
My internship at Harris continues to be a positive experience. At the conclusion of the internship this past summer, I was extended an opportunity to continue working there part-time through the fall and spring semester, while I continue my studies full-time.
FDU: What advice do you have for fellow classmates interested in gaining internship experience?
AA: My advice is to join organizations and attend events that align with your areas of interests. As a member of INROADS, NSBE and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), I am provided with plenty of opportunities to meet people in my industry.
Also, get yourself out there by networking, be positive, stay focused and always look for ways to remain competitive. If you do not get an opportunity you applied for, stay out there and make yourself more valuable.
Above: Alsaidi with aerospace equipment he works on at Harris Corporation.
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