Junior Kimberly Lam Has a Summer Internship at BAE Systems

Junior Kimberly Lam is interning at BAE Systems.

Like hundreds of other NJIT students, Kimberly Lam is spending her summer working as an intern. It’s a good job. She’s an intern at BAE Systems, a multinational company that is one of the world’s largest defense contractors.

Kimberly works in the Systems Engineering Group, where she helps engineers test computerized display panels for enormous, complex naval vessels. Sailors use the display panels to help navigate a class of ships known as Aegis. She helps the engineers observe, test and report upon the display panels.

She works in the BAE office in Mt. Laurel, N.J. and is living for the summer in a nearby apartment.

Kimberly is a junior in the Albert Dorman Honors College who majors in mechanical engineering and minors in applied math. She is a top student -- she has a 4.0 GPA – as well as a campus leader – she’s incoming president of the NJIT Section of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). But she wanted to work this summer to acquire the real-world experience that will complement her education and make her more marketable. In this interview, Kimberly talks about her internship, her work with SWE and her background.  

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Describe your internship, the work you do?

Our office is contracted by the Department of Defense to work on projects that will help our country's service men and women.  More specifically, I work under Systems Engineering to assist the engineers to meet design and development milestones, observe and review elements and their specifications, participate in test events, and assess the performance of the product before it is implemented.  In other words, we help ensure that the project results in an effective product through its entire design process.

How do you like it?

I enjoy being part of a group that helps make a difference in our country, especially knowing that my contributions heavily impact our service men and women. 

What are you learning and how is that complementing your education?

As with any engineering project, I’m learning that a whole project cycle is complex and filled with many checks and balances to ensure a quality outcome.  Being part of design and testing is helping me to see what technical details I need to focus on.  I’m also able to apply what I learned in school about detecting any complications or errors that affect a project.

This is not your first internship, is it?

In the summer of 2013, I worked as an intern at Panasonic in Newark.  I was one of three interns who worked on a competition that Panasonic sponsors with NJIT: the Creative Design Challenge. We three were tasked to create the 2013-2014 Challenge, a high school robotics challenge for students in New Jersey. We had to come up with a new idea for a robotics course as well as the rules of the contest and the objectives for the students.  We brainstormed new ideas, translated our ideas to the computer using CAD software and presented our idea to Panasonic and to the NJIT representatives who run the competition. When all agreed on an idea, we three went forward by creating the whole course ourselves as well as an accompanying robot that could complete this course.  From there, we created the rules and regulations to mold our efforts into a structured challenge for the students. 

How did you get that internship?

Gregory Mass was my Honors Freshman Seminar instructor.  We kept in touch after the class and he later asked me to be his teaching assistant for Freshman Seminar.  He told me about the Panasonic internship and he led me to the right resources at Panasonic; that’s how I was able to obtain the internship at Panasonic.  Mr. Mass is the executive director of the Career Development Services office at NJIT, and he is knowledgeable about careers and very helpful to students, even acting as my mentor during the past two years.

How did you get interested in engineering?

Through my elementary and middle school years, I found science and math to be the most interesting classes and the ones that I happened to do well in.  A friend told me about a magnet school in my area that specialized in engineering -- the Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Technologies in Edison. I figured it wouldn't hurt to apply and two of the subjects I really enjoyed were in the school's name... perhaps I would like the third one! Luckily, I was accepted into the school, which is one of the best in the nation for STEM. During high school, I tried out Electrical/Computer Engineering Technology and Civil/Mechanical Engineering Technology.  I majored in the later, CMET, where I got to study design (CAD), applied mechanics (statics), and even work on a hovercraft project.  I acquired my love of mechanical engineering from my CMET teacher.  He always recounted stories of all the eclectic experiences he had during his engineering career, before he began teaching.  I hope to follow in his shoes: pursue a fulfilling engineering career and teach budding, young engineers.

What is your view on women and engineering?

Engineering should be seen as the practical application of knowledge, something that anyone can do! Engineering is not an easy field to pursue and it requires a lot of motivation and dedication. If we support our girls from the start and foster their interests in the sciences, mathematics, and/or technology, I believe that we will have more women in the field. 

Why did you come to NJIT?

I came for two main reasons.  The Honors College staff came to my high school for instant decision day early on in my senior year.  I was offered admission and a nice financial aid package. To be honest, I did not think about coming to NJIT.  What won me over was the YOU@NJIT program and Ms. Talina Knox, the former Assistant Director of the Murray Center.  From this program, I got to spend time on campus and I saw NJIT for what it was: a community of good, dedicated and humble students who weren't cutthroat but amicable people who are willing to help one another.  That overnight experience changed my whole perspective of NJIT.  I had many other offers from top colleges, but I liked NJIT and my guidance counselor strongly recommended it. So it soon became clear to me that NJIT was the best fit for me. And now, years later, I can honestly say that attending NJIT is one of the best decisions of my life.

What do you think of the Honors College?

The Honors College has offered me so many opportunities to give back and make me a better person -- academically, socially... you name it.  The staff at the Honors College is always there to help me and I love working with them.  I truly enjoy working as a freshman teaching assistant for the first-year honors seminars, volunteering at the freshman retreat and sharing my story and advice at open houses.

What do you want to do after you graduate?

I have yet to decide which subfield to work in since mechanical engineering touches upon so many fields, whether it may be defense, commercial products, research, etc. And I plan to obtain my master's degree. But given that I have two internships and will graduating from a top engineering school I'm confident I'll have a great career.

By Robert Florida