Published: Feb. 7, 2022 By

Ella McQuaid
Ella McQuaid

Ella McQuaid is an undergraduate student in Mechanical Engineering. She interned with unspun during summer 2021.

Can you tell us a little bit about the company where you interned?

Unspun is a robotics and digital apparel company that makes on-demand, custom jeans by scanning the customer’s body and generating a virtual avatar as a reference for the garment pattern. The company focuses on reducing waste, with the goal of decreasing global carbon emissions by one percent.

What was your role as an intern with unspun?

My primary project at unspun was to modify the machine’s pre-existing fabric collection system into one that better fit unspun’s needs. I started the project by meeting with one of my mentors at unspun to go over the current system and talk about the issues the testing team wanted to address. After brainstorming possible solutions and making rough SolidWorks models, I presented several ideas to the rest of the team. Their feedback and ideas helped me choose a design to move forward with. I built a prototype that did not work initially, but when I asked for advice from the mechanical team, they gave me some great ideas that helped me get to a working model. 

How will this internship impact your future in mechanical engineering?

One of the main things I originally hoped to gain through this internship was hands-on experience that I felt I missed out on during the year of remote classes. At unspun, I got to reconnect with all the aspects of engineering that I really enjoyed in previous semesters. Getting to work on a machine, design, prototype, and contribute to a mission that really resonates with me was incredibly encouraging. I saw what it means to be an engineer in a professional capacity which helped me gain confidence in my future.

What are the biggest takeaways from this internship?

The most rewarding and interesting part of this internship was getting to meet everyone at unspun and observe how a startup tech company works from the inside. I tried to absorb all the advice I was given – how professional engineers work, communicate and approach problems, and how the different teams in a small company all work together. Another rewarding experience was seeing something I built working in the way I imagined and producing results that I felt proud of. It was exciting to leave something behind that could continue being used once I left the company.

To other students considering this program, especially those who have not done other internships, I would like to say that you do not know what It is going to be like to work as an engineer just from school. This is an extremely valuable experience for determining your future path.

This experience was part of the Department of Mechanical Engineering's Summer Internship-for-Credit Program, where students work for partner companies in the start-up, small business and non-profit worlds. Learn about the student application process for 2022 and how to become a partner company through the link above.

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