Electrical Engineer - Valentine Ikegwuonu
This article is from the “Cummins: All Access” series, a compilation of unique, reality-based stories featuring Cummins employees. The series is designed to give a behind-the-scenes perspective of Cummins employees as they develop their careers.
Cummins engines are innovative, complex systems that come together to form world-class engine technologies. The interface between the electronics control module, harness and sensors is a critical point of system integration.
Valentine Ikegwuonu is a senior product validation engineer whose roles includes sensor testing, validation, and development of Cummins engine’s electrical system.
Valentine is a graduate of the University of Houston (Main Campus) with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He enjoys his engineering career at Cummins because of the technical challenges each day presents:
“There’s so much variety here. We collaborate with a team on various new and current products. In addition, we go into the test cells when new data is available to understand how the test and engine are performing. The truth is you don’t know what to expect because the engine might have run well or it might have developed another challenging issue. That makes it very exciting for me-- it’s one aspect of our engine technology were creative minds come together for one main goal and that is delivering an exciting, innovative, and quality product.”
Valentine first met Cummins recruiting team at a National Society of Black Engineers conference in St. Louis. After discussing his career aspirations with a talent manager at the career fair, he knew Cummins was a fit for both his professional goals and personal values.
“NSBE is important to me because of its vision of making a positive difference in lives and impacting communities. From a STEM perspective, it’s important when we connect with young minds to help them think about what lies ahead and all the great things it has to deliver and also how they can take control of their destiny”
And now for your All Access Pass:
Valentine starts his morning with a confidential design review discussing new engine development updates. The items of his presentation to the team include new sensor technology being introduced, design changes and other validation test plan.
“Everyone on the team is engaged in the new engine design testing. That means collaboration between structural engineers, mechanical engineers, product validation engineers and design engineers. Not forgetting Technical leaders and Technical Advisers. Together we work at improving the efficiency of all components on the engine. This, in turn, keeps our customers happy”
During the meeting, the Product Configuration Team Leader puts up a 3D model of the new engine on the large screen for all responsible team member to talk about their components for any updates and design work structured in or upcoming.
“We’re currently in year 2 of a 4-year development cycle, so we’re very focused on refining the performance of the engine as well as incorporating other engine design changes."
After the design review, Valentine has a mid-morning teleconference with controls engineers from Cummins Darlington engine plant. The virtual teleconference allows the global colleagues to collaborate in real time.
“Today, we’re having a design review on the wiring system on the Euro engine. As we go through the presentation, we’re asking each other tough questions like ‘Have we ensured the design validation of the system meets standard?’ One item is that the electrical testing plan has been met and is of high quality.”
Just before lunch, Valentine joins his Cummins Toastmasters group for personal development and a bite to eat. The group meets to help increase everyone’s public speaking ability.
“I enjoy our Toastmasters group (powered speakers) because it’s a group where people improve and develop their listening, communication and leadership skills. The agenda consists of 2 prepared speeches, table topics where everyone - including guests - are encouraged to speak, and general evaluations on how everyone did and is doing. I enjoy positively impacting people’s lives."
After lunch, Valentine receives a call from a test cell technician that a sensor test is now complete. He heads for the Cummins Technical Center, where research and development for many confidential projects begin. He’s excited to learn more about the results of the testing since the plan intentionally pushed specs toward the limits of failure.
“Failures are important in engineering because it tells you a lot about your component and the general system. We can learn why things happened, what caused them to happen and how we can limit or mitigate them. Failure in the early stage of a design cycle is important because you can take necessary actions to address the issue before delivering the product. This, in turn, keeps the customer happy and increases the company branding.”
Once inside the test cell, Valentine checks his component on the engine, in this case, a sensor, with his electrical meter and data logger on his computer. He begins analyzing the electrical components for sensitivity at extreme speeds.
“This afternoon, we found that the harness needs to be strapped more tightly because it was interfering with another component. Due to heavy vibration, this caused rubbing on the harness resulting in shorted signal and performance issues on the engine. This wasn’t a difficult issue this time but one can never know the outcome of a test cell issue.”
At the end of his day, Valentine leaves the office to mentor high school students on robotics. He’s a team mentor for a FIRST robotics team and has a passion for giving back to those involved in STEM – especially engineering students.
“I got involved in robotics when I was in college and when I got hired by Cummins, my hiring manager told me about this FIRST robotics team in my area. After my first visit to the High School, I have been a mentor ever since. Even during my busy schedule at work, I still make out time to connect with the students and give back to the community. Cummins is not one of those ordinary jobs. It’s great that our leadership promotes giving back to the community. It helps opens student minds to see that we support their passion.”