Student Stories: Learning nuts, bolts of sophisticated ag equipment

June 17, 2013

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Modern farming machines are capable and complex. Zachary Stephens, who graduated from Penn State in May with a degree in biological engineering, learned that firsthand recently when he worked as a field test engineering intern at Case New Holland America.

Also known as CNH, the company is a global competitor in agricultural and construction machinery development and manufacturing. It sells several brands of equipment, including New Holland, Case IH and Kobelco.

As a field test intern, Stephens performed various tests on production and prototype equipment in the shop and in the field.

"In a nutshell, our job was to make sure the equipment worked as it was supposed to and to fix or report anything that did not," he said.

Stephens grew up on a farm in Clearfield, Pa., and interning for CNH served as a step toward his dream of working with off-road equipment. He gained experience in many areas, including equipment design, development, manufacturing and testing.

"There is a lot of time put into developing new machinery designs," he said. "The little things, like the nuts and bolts, for example, can have a major impact on performance of the machine."

The internship required Stephens to spend half of the 14 weeks in New Holland, Pa., in Lancaster County, and the other half in Nebraska. CNH moved machines to Nebraska because the state grows a broader range of crops for testing and offers expansive fields to mow.

While in Nebraska, he and another Penn State field test intern were solely in charge of four to five operational machines and two service trucks shortly after starting the position. This aspect of his job was the most challenging for Stephens.

"Not many companies would give interns that much responsibility, but in the end, it proved to be a very rewarding experience," he said.

Learn more about the Biological Engineering major.

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Last Updated June 27, 2013