Most summer interns don’t have the fate of global, billion-dollar companies dangling in their hands.
Shaun O’Connor did.
The WVU industrial engineering student took on his first internship in the summer of 2011. His employer, ODINTechnologies, which provides radio-frequency identification software and solutions for aerospace, govern-ment, healthcare, financial services, and social media markets, threw him into the fire.
“On my second or third day of work, they asked me, ‘Do you have your passport? We’re going to send you to France.’” O’Connor knew zero French. Yet the Vermont native was undeterred.
ODIN assigned him to work on a project for one of its clients, Eurocopter, the largest helicopter manufacturing company in the world.
The task? Eurocopter had been experiencing problems with inventory management. They couldn’t keep track of their tools, increasing the potential for foreign object damage.
In aviation, foreign object damage occurs when an object that is not part of the vehicle degrades the condition of the aircraft or itself. Tools and other items can get loose on the aircraft and pose serious hazards.
“Something like a screw or wrench left out could contaminate the process,” O’Connor said. “This problem would occur because in a hangar that’s 300,000 square feet, it’s easy to lose tools. So we applied a solution so that every tool or piece of equipment was retrofitted with a tag or chip with a unique code on it for tracking.”
This new tracking system would also end up reducing inventory up to 70 percent on the flight line [the area used for servicing airplanes]. The risk for foreign object damage decreased dramatically, and the tracking was now 99.9 percent accurate, O’Connor said.
“With Eurocopter, their financial investment was extremely significant, and the return was great enough that they are now rolling out this solution in other hangars across their European fleet,” he said.
It was gratifying. It was my first real internship and they put faith in me to do good work. It was a lot of pressure, but it was a real confidence builder.” ODIN was so impressed that they invited him back as an intern the following summer.
“I love the counsulting field because it’s about problem-solving. I never expected growing up that I could play a role so huge for society.”
His experience has even led to bigger things—like a real job. O’Connor graduates from WVU this year, but he’s already had a job lined up since November 2012.
After graduation, O’Connor will work as a consultant for Deloitte, one of the biggest professional services firms in the world, which boasts 193,000 employees in more than 150 countries providing audit, tax, consulting, enterprise risk, and financial advisory services.
“I love the consulting field because it’s about problem-solving,” he said. “With Deloitte, let’s say one of my clients would be the TSA. I’d play a huge part in American security. I never expected growing up that I could play a role so huge for society.”
O’Connor says he owes a debt of gratitude to WVU and the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources for his budding career. He’d heard about WVUfrom a friend who came here, and and readily admits he considered other schools. “Now that I’m here, it’s impossible to picture myself anywhere else,” O’Connor said.
“I’ve learned things that students at other engineering schools don’t. The faculty, particularly Professor Jack Byrd, deserve recognition for what they do for students. He’s been a great influence in getting my career started. I owe a lot to him.”
O’Connor originally signed up for mechanical engineering, but the problem-solving appeal of industrial engineering lured him away. His education, experiences helping a global corporation and future with Deloitte will likely elevate him to new heights.
He’s entertaining the possibility of graduate school while working for Deloitte. “I have a little bit of an entrepreneur in me,” O’Connor said. “Working with Deloitte will only give me more great opportunities. Maybe down the road, ten years from now, I’ll start my own consulting firm.”