Cole Richmond

I consider myself very lucky to be an undergraduate at the UC San Diego. The opportunity to be an student in the undergraduate Data Science Program has presented me with a number of opportunities that I am ever thankful for. I became a Data Science major the summer before my second year and am now beginning my third year at UC San Diego. In that short time I have come to know so many great professors, faculty members, and students alike who all share the same passion and genuine interest for what we’re building here at this university. The main selling point for me when deciding to leave my ECE major (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering) was the opportunity to pursue a domain of interest as I work my way through the upper division course required by the data science department. Steve Jobs, a man who had a passion to change the world, said “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” With that in mind, I was excited to have the opportunity to set myself on path of fulfillment as I search for a way to make my own impact on society.

This summer, I had the privilege of working as an Engineering Technician Intern at K&N Engineering, Inc. in beautiful Riverside, California. K&N is a manufacturer of air filters, cold air intake systems, and other performance parts. K&N produces thousands of parts for various makes and models of cars, trucks, motorcycles, and industrial applications. As an intern, I was able to work with Ignition — an Integrated Software Platform for SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems. It is based on a SQL Database-centric architecture meaning databases played a crucial role in the software architecture I was using. My work this summer was centered around the production of panel filters. Versatile in the way they’re used, there is plenty that goes into manufacturing one of these 11.063 inch x 3.813 inch filters. Every air filter is molded around a pleat pack (an accordion-folded roll of cotton gauze and epoxy coated screen mesh) and then sent to one of K&N’s 16 panel filter carousels. At these carousels, each pleat pack is fitted with a tough polyurethane frame where it is left to cure before being packed and shipped to your local O’Reilly or AutoZone. With thousands of parts being produced daily at a very quick pace, there is plenty of opportunity to improve efficiency and ensure that scarp and waste are kept to a minimum. I spent the summer finding trends in our database to see which carousels used the most material, ran for the longest amount of time, required the most maintenance, etc. I learned very quickly that discrepancies are all too common when working with raw, historical data. While having the tools necessary to dissect and manipulate data is important, I found that it is just as important to have a clear, strategic plan set in place to ensure that your approach does not lead you to dead end somewhere throughout your work.

If you are interested in learning more about how a new air intake system can improve the performance of your vehicle and increase its lifespan, read the following blog post from our team at K&N:

If you have any questions for me regarding my summer experience, data science in general, the automotive industry, running, or have any good book suggestions feel free to reach out to me at