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As a few more of our summer interns are set to leave us, they reflect upon the time they spent at FirstBuild and the things they learned along the way. As we bid farewell to Caleb and Ricky, we leave you with their FirstBuild summer experience, in their own words.

608073eaad4674b1e32ea62d4339f389.jpg Caleb

This summer I got the awesome opportunity to co-op at
FirstBuild. I worked on a variety of different projects in conjunction with
Chris Naber. I was able to help launch production of the first model of Easy
Drawer Ovens, Facilitate the kickoff of the Monogram Single double wall oven,
and Design major components for the next generaion of Easy Drawer Ovens. Utilizing
the vast assortment of tools and equipment, along with the amazing technical
expertise at FirstBuild, I was able to gain technical skills and manufacturing
knowledge that will be a valuable asset to my career in engineering.


FirstBuild allowed me to discover what rapid prototyping
design is really about, by redesigning the door hinge subsystem for the new
easy drawer oven. From this experience, I was able to become certified on
manufacturing equipment such as the water jet, hydraulic press brake, and laser
CNC machines, along with learning the value of being able to make multiple
design iterations quickly.


The rotation provided an opportunity to not only design
parts but put my designs to the test by testing my components for strength and


This rotation taught me some very valuable skills for
engineering but it also introduced me to the maker community and was able to
learn some fun skills along the way by working with others on some personal
projects like making a cap touch name plate for my wife that lights up in
different colors.

Overall FirstBuild was a great work environment and it
awesome learning and growing to become not only a better engineer but also a
better maker. Being able to a part of the maker community and work in the
environment FirstBuild provides was a complete honor. Even though my time hear
is over, my involvement with FirstBuild is just beginning.

I want to thank everyone at FirstBuild for making this an
amazing summer! I can’t wait to see what new idea gets created next and you
know I will still be around!

fc5745e3787524e9cdfc873f8c0cd32a.png Ricky

My involvement with Opal began when Scott Tarr asked me if I
could make a Neopixel ring light up. From
that point, I became the lead electronics design engineer for the Opal functional
prototype. During my involvement with Opal
I gained exposure to many circuit components, machines, and I made a few circuit
mistakes that I learned from. I wrote
software for the Opal and designed, laid out, and printed multiple iterations
of circuit boards. I learned about
voltage regulators, Neopixels, a circuit board routing machine, Captouch
technology, MOSFETS, Arduino microcontrollers.
I also learned how FirstBuild operate, their goals, and, my favorite, 5S
(Taylor’s cooking).


first iteration of the control board could not source enough power to the
multiple loads I was trying to drive; the failure could not have come at a
worst time. From that mistake I learned that
component power dissipation capabilities are limited. The first iteration was not the cleanest
design, so a second iteration had to be made.
The second iteration of the control board was 2” longer and 4” wider.
Revision two also contained a new power supply to supply the appropriate power
to the system, additional control over the system’s peripherals, and a neater
way to connect the external peripherals. I utilized revision two at AP 5
(Appliance Park building 5) and FirstBuild for additional testing, since it
contained capabilities that first iteration did not. We ran tests, and the opal team and the
advanced development team in AP 5 made suggestions to improve the system. These
suggestions included: a way to detect if the bucket is present or full of ice,
temperature reading capabilities, and motor speed variability. I included all
suggestions in the third and final iteration of the control board.


summer was full of technical hands-on experience; I received much exposure to
circuit board design, experience in C programming, and circuit board
manufacturing. I was part of a team of
talented engineers finding solutions to design problems in the Opal functional
prototype. It was the best co-op I have
had with GE appliances, and I recommend all electrical engineering co-ops to
give FirstBuild a try. There are many lessons to be learned and plenty of work
to go around, whether it is helping the engineers with the next market item or
a community member with a personal project.

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