Kuok Chiang Kim

 Chronicles of a Co-op in Switzerland

February 1, 2005

Even though ECE senior Kuok Chiang Kim has a full schedule with a minor in Biomedical Engineering and classes in the Master of Information Systems Management (MISM) program, he is always looking ahead to develop his career. He completed an eight month cooperative education (co-op) experience at ABB Switzerland's Corporate Research Center, was nominated last year for the Student Employee of the Year Recognition Award for his work on the School of Music's website, and participated in a summer undergraduate research program as a Merck Scholar. Let's join Kuok as he shares the details of his co-op:

Kuok Chiang Kim

ECE Senior

Hometown:

Singapore

Home during the co-op:

I stayed at Baden, Switzerland, which is on the outskirts of Zurich.

Why did you go abroad for your co-op?

It was a perfect opportunity for me to gain invaluable industrial experience and have a cultural exchange. I wanted to explore beyond the academic boundaries at CMU and try out something different. There were many other interns from University of Calgary, India, Sweden and Switzerland working at the Corporate Research Center.

How did the co-op supplement your ECE education?

The co-op contributed significantly to my grasp of software engineering design and analysis which is very important in ECE.

Project objective:

The co-op was an eight month long attachment at ABB Switzerland's Corporate Research Center. The project's objective was to develop a security gateway device that provided secure remote communication with ABB's industrial products. Since it was a proof of concept project, a lot of time was spent researching and testing possible implementations. A prototype security gateway was completed, followed by a presentation to the clients.

Co-op perks:

There are countless benefits of attending a co-op. Compared to college life, you are treated as a full-time employee and with that you have added responsibilities. You are exposed to work that goes beyond the academic boundaries in college. Other than in-depth technical work, you have to learn how to write proper documents, e.g., software requirements specifications, according to corporate procedures. At the end of the attachment, you have picked up a wide variety of skills and specialized knowledge.

Challenges:

As the project's scope of work on IT security was very new to me, the learning curve was steep. There is also a language barrier in Switzerland, where German, French or Italian is used depending on which part of Switzerland you are in.

The best part:

Working in Switzerland itself. The working environment is very conducive for research because of the knowledgeable and helpful staff. In addition, there are many outdoor activities like skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and cycling that occupy your weekends.

Would you recommend a co-op to interested students?

Absolutely, the experience will go a long way in your future career development. Many employers look for students who have completed internships or co-ops in selecting candidates for job interviews.

What advice would you give to someone interested in a co-op?

It is very important to broaden your search for internships beyond TartanTrak and beyond your field of work. You may just land on a golden opportunity that you never would have thought possible.

How did you hear about the opportunity?

From ABB's career website.

What was the application process?

You have to submit an online resume, followed by a phone interview with a project supervisor.

Extracurricular activities:

I am active in the Singapore Students Association (SSA) and squash.

Future plans:

I am currently in the Master of Information Systems Management (MISM) program at Heinz School, and would like to further pursue my interests in the field of IT security.

Kuok Chiang gives a presentation on his security gateway project to ABB clients and staff.

Kuok Chiang enjoys snowboarding in the village of Leysin.