OTTUMWA—Wendy Houston, an Ottumwa High School graduate, spent her summer learning about a variety of engineering careers during an internship at John Deere Ottumwa Works.
Houston was one of three high school and 15 college interns working at the Ottumwa plant. She noted that six of the 18 total were female and college interns came from across the country, including Texas, Pennsylvania, Idaho, Missouri, and Illinois. Her official title: OFP Assembly Manufacturing Engineer.
The OHS valedictorian credits Project Lead The Way courses and her involvement in Robotics Club in helping her decide her career path. She learned about the Deere internship opportunity during a job shadowing activity last fall through Robotics Club. She applied through a competitive application process and was selected. After the 11 week paid internship, she will head off to college at the University of Iowa. The summer went “crazy fast,” she said.
“The internship helped me a ton in deciding what type of engineering field I want to pursue as a career,” she said. She is currently considering either mechanical or industrial engineering. John Deere provides interns with real work experience, not busy work. “It helps to see what engineering is like on a day-to-day basis. They (John Deere) want us to get that experience.”
Interns are assigned a mentor who provides support throughout the summer. Houston’s mentor, Nicole Peyton, is also an OHS graduate, a four-year Deere intern, and recently completed her first year as a full-time engineer.
“I worked with many different types of engineers this summer,” Houston said. “It was a good experience. Everyone is super helpful.”
While she couldn’t name a favorite project, “collaborating with all the different individuals and the different roles within John Deere, that’s my biggest take away this summer,” she said. “John Deere treats their interns very well.”
Houston noted she did not have prior farm experience. “Not coming from an ag background made it even more interesting,” she said.