Peter Dix, Electrical Engineer

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Student: Peter Dix is an electrical engineer at CaseIH, and helps design tractors and construction equipment.
When did you first become interested in machinery?
Electrical Engineer: Ever since I was young I liked to take things apart and build things, and I was always curious about the way things work. My family would work on bicycles, build model rockets and airplanes, and I was always interested in electronics. I had an electronics kit form radio shack, and I always did my science projects on electronics.
Student: When sort of projects do you personally work on?
Electrical Engineer: I’m working on a transmition controller right now for a big tractor that controls all the clutches and has inputs for the operator. It controls the levers that put it in park, forward, reverse, and neutral. It makes the ride smooth, and efficiently control the transmition and the engine together to save fuel.
Student: Why did you pick this job?
Electrical Engineer: I thought it would be interesting, and I thought it would be a stable career. I thought that there would always be a need for engineers, and that electronics was an up-and-coming field. There would be more and more electronics controlling things, and I could specialize in control systems for cars and other machines, and because I think it is interesting to use electronics to control machines.
Student: What does a typical day look like for you?
Electrical Engineer: I spend a lot of time on the computer. I sometimes have long conversations with the guy I’m working with, and usually he’s testing a tractor or a skid, which is an engine in a test cell. We talk about different results that we’re getting and the different strategies for controlling it better, and some times he’s asking me or discussing the logic that controls the transmition. I also spend a lot of time using the software we call Simulink, which kind of a graphical programming language. It all describes how the transmition is supposed to be controlled with diagrams. I work on editing those diagrams, putting in more features, fixing things, doing things we think should be improved or changed.
Student: What is your favorite part of your job?
Electrical Engineer: Sometimes I get to drive the tractors and test them to collect data. I also like talking to people! I get patents sometimes, and I like that because I know there’s a check on the way. I like to do demonstrations where your bosses come to see how everything’s going. Of course it’s always nice to get finished on a project, and not have any more problems. It’s nice to see the project finally put into production, not to need to make any more changes to it. Sometimes we get to talk to customers that are using it, and hear what they have to say, and hopefully there aren’t too many problems with it.

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