From Student Inquire to Permanent Hire
Meet Oliver Voumard
I knew I wanted to be an engineer from the very beginning of university. Engineering seemed like a profession that encapsulated at least a couple of my interests: learning how things work and exploring ways to improve them. Thinking further back, I guess it actually started with my childhood fascination with giant robots.
Unfortunately, I discovered that when it came to building mechanical structures, I was a bit clumsy. Fortunately, I learned electrical circuitry didn't require that type of dexterity, and the idea of being able to design a circuit to perform a specific task intrigued me. In addition to the control aspect of electrical circuits, electricity isn't something that can necessarily be seen. There was an air of mystery that made me want to learn more.
I didn't have much experience with electrical engineering prior to university. Luckily, I was given an opportunity to travel to Shanghai, where I shadowed at a company that manufactures induction furnaces. I quickly determined that using electrical circuits to melt metal was a bit too dangerous for my liking. I also realized that I didn't want to have anything to do with circuits in the megawatt power range. It was an invaluable experience nonetheless. I was able to travel to another country, and it gave me insight into what an engineering job could entail.
After my studies abroad I attended the University of Wisconsin - Madison to pursue a bachelor's in electrical engineering, although I was still unsure on what I should focus. During my junior year, I visited a career fair to explore the possibilities. It was there I began my journey with Yaskawa.
I received an internship opportunity with the drives technical support group, where I immediately found meaningful work assisting customers in setting up Yaskawa drives to run motors in a multitude of applications ranging from 1/4 Horsepower to 900HP+. I was much more comfortable working within this power range. Plus, the ability to control a motor with a variable frequency drive for various applications—even though I didn't fully understand the intricacies of VFD and motor design at the time—was exciting.
My first internship left me eager to learn more. Thus, after returning to school to complete my senior year, I focused on taking classes that revolved around drives and motors. Fortunately, Yaskawa offered me a second internship in the same drive technical support group. I was able to better apply some of the concepts I learned during my undergraduate study to real-world situations.
Near the end of my second internship, I gladly accepted a full-time position as a drives technical support engineer. I have now worked at Yaskawa for four years and am currently a drives application engineer, where I interface closely with sales, OEM’s, system integrators, and end-users in application setup, power considerations, troubleshooting, and general product usage.
I am grateful for the major role this company has played in my engineering journey. The internship helped guide me toward finding my interest in variable frequency drives and motors. And, I found meaningful work applying what I learned in school. Recently, Yaskawa's tuition reimbursement program also enabled me to further my education, as I pursue a master's in power engineering.
By pursuing a post-graduate study in power electronics, I hope to broaden my understanding of drive control concepts, motor theory, and general power electronics to increase my ability and understanding as an engineer.
Working at Yaskawa enables me to do all of the things that drew me to becoming an engineer. I make things work by helping customers out with their application needs. I can explore the multitude of applications that use motors and drives. I can research what sort of applications exist in the industry. And, as for giant robots, did you know there's a full-scale, giant, moving Gundam (giant robot) tourist attraction in Yokohama, Japan? Apparently, Yaskawa had something to do with it.