Jun 16, 2011

Vacation Internship Programme


Also known as VIP (EG3602), this is one of the Enhancement Programmes offered by the Faculty of Engineering, NUS.

I was successfully allocated to a company called Quantum Automation Pte Ltd by self initiating and the period of internship is 9 May to 29 July (12 weeks) in order to fulfill the programme which is 6 MCs (modular credits). The reason of doing this is to gain experience and to make my resume looks a bit more handsome.


Introduction


My company tag
The main idea and objective of Quantum Automation Pte Ltd is all about Building Management System, or sometimes called Building Automation System. It is all about testing and commissioning devices installed in a typical building, which is normally under a quite massive project. Air conditioning, electrical system, fire system and plumbing are of the responsibility of the company.


1st Week

I departed with Li Ming and Chu Luei on our first day of internship and reached half an hour earlier than 9am (but it takes one and a half hour to reach Eunos from NUS). There're 12 interns from NUS. After filling our particulars, we were briefed and called to respective departments (either Engineering or Service). In the Engineering Department, there were 5 interns including me (Chin Soon, Masi, Shaun, Suhana). And our journey started...


iCON 1600 Controller
The first week of the internship was already a pretty challenging one as we were actually being orientated to a lot of system and equipments which are foreign to me, and not even found from lecture notes. We were introduced a lot of abbreviations like BMS (Building Management System), AHU (Air Handling Unit), VAV (Variable Air Volume) and LMNV (LonMaker Network Variables). We were introduced the typical QA’s controllers with their usual nomenclatures.
Demonstrations of related softwares and applications, namely LonMaker, LNS DDE Server and PcVue were carried out by the supervisor. Although purposes of each command were not clearly explained, I tried my best to remember all the required steps in testing devices like controllers.

We were given the opportunity to try out the entire sophisticated utility of the software used to get ourselves familiarized even when we are required to do it practically at job sites.

On the third day, we tried to test the response of setpoint and temperature reading of a thermostat with the browser of the respective controller on a PC.


QA Controllers (1900P, 3400P and VAV)
It was fun on the fourth day when all of us, the interns were trying out various logic combination from the logic gates designed in the computer programme with time schedules input and observe the output which is represented by the reaction of a relay connected to the digital output of one of the company's controllers (1900P) without any assistance from the supervisor or engineers there.

On the fifth day we learnt the response of the variable air damper motor, which is an actuator by altering the pressure of a device attached to 1900P controller and study the response of the actuator, which closes the damper when pressure is above setpoint to minimize air flow and vice versa.

We then tried out the input of two door sensor pieces to the output of the relay using a single-input AND logic on the next day, which was spectacular as the response of relay was instant as it was directly related to the closing or opening of the door sensor pieces.


2nd Week

In the second week, we continued to learn the previous softwares and get more familiarized with the communication of the softwares internally and externally, like the communication of PcVue with even Microsoft Excel. I gained clearer concept about bit, register and text as categories of information to be displayed and sent.

On the third day of the week, I added more animation to a VAV schematic to promote visualization, like adding color gradient of a rectangle to show how high is the radiant heat temperature and rotation of a damper to show whether it should be further closed or opened depending on the built in logic.

We then construct a BMS schematic on Microsoft Power Point with given icons and template on the fourth day. We learnt to draw lines carefully as they must be horizontal or vertical and their ends are touching each other's as it is to be submitted to a consultant.

I got to edit around with the mimics and mimic templates of one of QA's projects (OUB Centre) in PcVue on the next day. It was about learning and design the graphic for various systems and units under BMS.


The programme - PcVue, also called iNexus
This is the modified AHU schematic when I was assigned to work on the OUB Centre's graphics.


3rd Week

On the first two days of the third week, I learnt to manually input information from a Point Schedule to a Termination List on Microsoft Excel. I gained understanding towards the fact that each point on a controller functions as one communication spot to an external device with a specific command.


My SOC Certificate
Passing the test for Construction Safety Orientation Course is one of the requirements of visiting the job sites and so we were scheduled to attend the course at BCA Academy on the Wednesday of the week, which was sponsored by the company. I learnt about the safety measures and name of personal protection equipments in a construction site. All engineering interns including me passed the test and we received an SOC (Construction) Certificate which enables us to work on site, and I scored 100% for the test, so it was really easy.


MASTER Safety Shoe ($38)
After the course, Masi and I were asked to buy ourselves a pair of safety shoes respectively and claim it after that at the office. We managed to buy one pair each at a hardware shop near Queenstown.

The next day, we were attached to Scotts Square and till noon only we were told by safety officer that student pass holders are not allowed to work at the site (probably meaning those that are not fully developed and established yet), which actually made me feel relieved 'cause the site sucks. Therefore, I got a free pair of shoes without really being used before.

Hence I was attached to Claymore Point (near to Orchard) and I calibrated all the standalone thermostats with a psychrometer based on the dry bulb temperature from 25th storey all the way to 6th storey.

It was pretty much like a lab session but a tiring version as the process was continuous and there were more than 100 thermostats in that service unit building to calibrate and I took staircase instead of elevator as a lot of construction workers needed to use it.

4th Week

Continually in the fourth week, I was again attached to Claymore Point and I monitored the status of chillers in the fire command centre (FCC), replaced faulty thermostats and input thermostat's address.
The tough ones were climbing stairs and removing the detachable ceiling covers as these network-enabled thermostats are all above the ceiling.

The fourth day was the toughest day so far as the person who was suppose to carry and climb the ladder was not at Claymore Point, I carried and climbed the ladder, changed faulty thermostats and calibrated them and made sure they are online with BMS, which were extremely tiring and too excessive for an intern like me. Moreover, no one was guiding and giving me instructions so I had to decide and take action by myself, even a ladder was not prepared for me and I borrowed from the site company.


5th Week

In the fifth week, I continued to calibrate thermostats at those prohibited area. On the second day I got to enter the AHU room to check the parameters. That day, I learnt that we should be very careful while entering and exiting the AHU room because the door will just slam to close due to huge pressure difference. Throughout these few weeks at Claymore Point, I noticed that the crucial role that I was playing is monitoring the switching of the chiller system every 12pm in the noon, controlled by a master schedule in the system. During that few minutes, one chiller system will stop and the other will run, which is like changing shift. QA has the responsibility to keep this functioning normally as it will be a big problem if one chiller does not stop or the other does not run, besides being complained by the building authority.

Few days later I was asked to check the parameters in the AHU rooms, like temperature of air, chilled water (both supply and return), off coil, to make sure that they are about the same as what shown in PcVue, else we need to offset the values. There were still a few TFCU (Thermostat Fan Coil Unit) offline to BMS and in order to make them online, I troubleshooted them by plugging out the outgoing wires of individual TFCU and check whether it is online, because one faulty TFCU might cause the rest to be offline.


6th Week


Boarding Pass (Singapore - Penang, Malaysia)
Hmmmmm~~ What happened?!?!

Yup, I worked for the first 3 days of the 6th week to handover my job and went back to Penang on the 4th day.

There're basically two reasons of quitting:
  1. Prof. Donald Tan's schedule is full in August and my 2nd DALK corneal transplant surgery has to be done in July, so I cannot continue to work because I have to rest and visit the clinic for follow up checkup.
  2. My job SUCKS!!! I was changing the power plug for one network-enabled thermostat last Saturday and that was ultimately the worst job ever. Ok before that, let me describe how terrible it was. I wasn't prepared any ladder, screwdrivers, torch light and any other necessary equipments. I visited every single storey to look for a ladder which I can "steal". After that, I have to carry the freaking heavy ladder to the level with the problematic thermostat, and to climb, open the ceiling cover, sneak my head inside and start doing my troubleshooting tasks. It's such a dirty electrician/technician's job and I had to do it. And come back to last Saturday, I stood up there for so long and my waist hurts. It's so dark up there and I still have to remove and replace 9 channels of wires, and the worst was, after troubleshooting, the lying problem remained unsolved - OFFLINE, which was so demoralizing and I felt that I'm stupid because everything I did was just simply fruitless.

To further elaborate how terrible was the job, ok, the pay was as low as $600/month, yet Saturday we have to work half-day, and for my side, I was the only one from QA stationing at Claymore Point, who did they think I am? So when a problem surfaces, I myself had to decide on behalf of the company what to do by my own logic instead of being guided by a supervisor or permanent employee.

Ok I know it's an honor to be entrusted, but in this case, no, throwing me into a snake pit and asking me to survive?!
No one was helping me and I had to go up to troubleshoot and down to the PC to check whether there're changes. I had to travel up and down numerous times!
When I Had nothing to do, I really chilled all the way in the FCC, sometimes with my eyes closed; when I had something to do, I did all these extreme tasks.
For my friends at the other site, they normally had to work overtime almost everyday, which is so unfair because they're just interns.

Ya I know internship is about experience, and of course I did also because of gaining some hands on experience but I think I've gained enough because it's too much for an intern like me. This is simply EXPLOITATION. I became so thin because I've climbed too much stairs at site.


Conclusion
  • Try to understand the job scope or do some research about the company's background before applying for an internship
  • You might want to choose one which is near to the place you stay, unless company transport is provided


So in the end, I was withdrawn from VIP and I'm not getting any credits. I hope I've made a rational decision.
Luckily, doing VIP or IA is not a requirement for graduation (for Faculty of Engineering) in NUS. If in the future all engineers are meant to do all these saikang, then... I might as well be a banker instead. LOL~

Javin Tham, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSSBB Musician | Engineer | YouTube Coverist

2 comments:

  1. Can I ask you whether there will be overtime pay for this company?

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    Replies
    1. Eligibility of overtime pay really depends on the company and its policy. For my case at that point of time, no.

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