By Nick Schueler, master’s student in mechanical engineering

In the fall of last year, I had just begun the final semester of my undergraduate studies in mechanical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). I had already decided to continue at RPI to get my master’s degree through the Accelerated Master’s Program, but I wanted to complete another internship before jumping into graduate courses. I applied to several positions and ultimately accepted a position at Apple.

During my internship, I worked in the spaceship-esque headquarters known as Apple Park in Cupertino, California, in the San Francisco Bay area. That building and the many buildings in the surrounding cities support an astonishing number of employees in the region.

I was an engineering intern in the Manufacturing Design (MD) organization, which supports the manufacturing of products, helping to figure out how to make Apple’s devices at scale. This team consists of a diverse group of experts in manufacturing processes, supply chains, facility layout, process quality and reliability, product inspection, and automation.

More specifically, I was part of the iPhone MD team, helping to support the development of manufacturing processes for future iPhone products. I interfaced with engineers, both in California and internationally, to analyze existing manufacturing processes and optimize them. I specifically worked with surface finishing and robotic processes. I also worked in a prototyping lab to develop new robotic surface finishing processes and test them on sample parts.

During my time at Apple, I was trained to use different robotic and machining equipment and learned about novel manufacturing processes and techniques. This unique opportunity was an excellent fit for my mechanical engineering graduate studies.

One of my favorite aspects of my internship was living with my fellow interns at Apple-provided housing. I was fortunate enough to share an apartment with three other engineering interns who helped make my cross-country living experience more enjoyable. I was also able to meet a wide range of people both in and out of my organization, as well as network with interns at other technology companies in the area.

Outside of work, the San Francisco Bay area is home to a lot of great restaurants, sightseeing opportunities, hiking spots, and some amazing weather. While I was there, I visited the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the Muir Woods National Monument, the Golden Gate Bridge, downtown San Francisco, and even took a road trip down to Los Angeles.

When I first started my internship, there was a lot to take in, but I had the support of my manager, a mentor, and the other members of my team, all who helped to support me as I learned the ins and outs of my job. Overall, I had an amazing time in California and at Apple, and I look forward to using the new skills I developed as I move forward with my master’s degree at RPI.