York College Engineering students use co-op experience to develop lifesaving medical equipment at Becton Dickinson
Dan Lohan’s work helps save lives, and his research and development projects could impact the future of the health care industry.
Lohan, who’s in his senior year studying Mechanical Engineering at York College of Pennsylvania, received valuable experience during his time in a co-operative program at Becton Dickinson, learning everything from mechanical design to system integration to engineering experience and communication.
Becton Dickinson designs and develops medical instrumentation systems. In other words, “This is life-saving stuff,” says Director of R&D Hardware Engineering Dave Lentz.
York College’s relationship with Becton Dickinson is a relatively new one, but the affiliation has been working splendidly, Lentz said.
“I have been really, really impressed with the caliber of students there,” Lentz said. “They impress me as being more mature than what you might expect from a college student.”
During his co-op, Lohan said new developments, in particular, sparked his interest.
“I am proud to be involved and make any meaningful contribution to the development that will help other people when it comes to market,” he said.
Lohan’s time at York College prepared him for his co-op at Becton Dickinson, he said, and he hopes it leads to a full-time position with the company.
“I can say that I would not feel comfortable or capable in some cases to fulfill my day-to-day tasks at Becton Dickinson if it were not for the education that I have received from York College.”
‘The skillset I needed’
Lohan isn’t the only student who had a positive experience with Becton Dickinson.
York College senior Aaron Roby, an Electrical Engineering major, is amazed at how many different things he has worked on during his co-op at the company.
“I've learned everything from project management approaches to the differences in data structure efficiency in the programming language,” he said. “Not only have I gained technical experience, but my co-op at BD has been the first to really introduce me to the idea of team dynamics.
“Since the day I started, I've been treated like an actual team member and given the same sorts of tasks that a regular employee might be assigned.”
Because of the independent, hands-on learning within the Engineering Department at York College, Roby said he didn’t feel like he had to play catch-up and hold back the rest of the team at Becton Dickinson.
“I feel like YCP Engineering gave me the skillset I needed to walk into this co-op and learn the technologies required to be successful on the job,” he said.
A growing relationship
Glen Davis, Becton Dickinson's senior R&D Manager for Software Engineering, said York College students are ready upon entering the company.
“One of the big surprises for me has been how little support and training it has taken to make the students productive,” he said.
The co-op students benefit while interacting with R&D engineers, scientists, manufacturing engineers, statisticians, and many other groups.
“York co-ops get to see real-world engineering in action,” Davis said. “Not only do they get to practice some of the skills they’re learning in school, but they also get to experience a wide range of activities that go into building a medical device.”
Experience led to a position
Austin Koehler, who graduated in May 2016 after majoring in Computer Science with a minor in mathematics, recently accepted an offer to become a permanent engineer at Becton Dickinson.
“By far, my proudest accomplishment was being assigned as the Lead Software Developer and architect for a new R&D innovation project,” he said. “Never in a thousand years would I have thought that a mere three months after graduating, an engineering firm would see enough potential in me to place me in such a position.”
Koehler said his co-op allowed him to experience the practice of all things software related. He worked with hardware and embedded systems and top-level user interfaces and is involved with robotics, optical systems and bio-medical systems.
He truly feels he is a qualified software engineer.
“It is thanks to the fantastic faculty and program at York College that I was able to get an opportunity like this,” Koehler said. “My time at Becton Dickinson has made me a leader, a team member, both a student and a teacher, and most of all, a person who loves what he does.”