Shaun Keys

An R&D Internship Update.

    "Hello, I’m Shaun, I am an intern here at Panther doing part time R&D (Research and Development) and sometimes part time service.

    I actually found out about the Panther Internship through STEM School, which is down the street on Barrons Blvd. Our engineering teacher, Mr. Shall, sort of approached me and asked if I was interested. I thought the deadline was already gone, but he made it work, and I got an interview and now here I am.

    The first few weeks were pretty good. I worked a little bit down in the service department and made a few machines. Then for the most part after that I went upstairs to the R&D office and started working on learning structured text and other IEC standardized programming languages. Since then, I’ve been exploring new options for different motors that we can use and how to control them. I’ve also been exploring the possibility of connecting some of these machines to the internet to interact with online APIs and get information through those methods.   

    I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to learn this industry and figure out the ins and outs of production and making automation equipment. It’s something I’ve been fascinated about all my life – automating things, making things talk to each other, and work with each other. So this is definitely a great opportunity and definitely enjoyed being here. The toughest challenge for me so far has been actually getting the machines to connect to the Internet. I can get them to connect with no problem, but then I can't use the data I get back. And I’m having to make a lot of my own replacements for built-in functions from those non-Panther code libraries that really should already be there, but aren’t.  One thing I’m really looking forward to right now is learning how to use industrial PCs and how that application layer communicates with the physical layer. You can compare that to a Raspberry Pi computing device: our current PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers) are Arduinos and an industrial PC is a Raspberry Pi, if you get what I mean. So it’s gonna be really cool to see how that works and how to really make use of that.

    Before coming here I wanted to be a web developer or server administrator, but now I’m actually seriously considering changing where I want to go with my future. It’s because I actually really do enjoy building these machines and making things that automate a given task. I just find it interesting, because it’s a little bit of everything - it’s a little bit of the software layer, it’s a little bit of the physical layer. I’m sort of well-rounded, so I don’t really just focus on one specific area. As an example, I love coding websites but I hate making the graphics for them. And this internship just strikes a nice middle ground between those two things, making it feel close to being a web developer - but with just a bit less reliance on graphics."

-Shaun Keys

Read more about Shaun and the other Interns here.