Tyler Hepler, Astro Machine Works Intern


Tyler, a Computer Integrated Machining major in Thaddeus Stevens College’s associate degree program, has spent his summer interning for Astro Machine Works.  

Astro Machine Works was founded in 1984 in Lancaster County with a vision to serve the custom machinery and precision parts needs of the area’s top regional and national companies. The company’s machines and parts can today be found across the globe, supporting processes for some of the world’s leading companies.  

What does your day-to-day work look like during your internship? 

After arriving at 7 a.m. and clocking in, I log into the job or part I was processing the day before. When I complete a job, I drop off the print and parts at their next destination. To start a new job, I get a new print and find where the material is located, and sometimes I need to cut the material down before I work on the job, other times the material is pre-cut.  

What have you been surprised to learn in your internship? 

One of the things I’ve learned is how many steps and processes can go into making just one part. In some cases, a part will be very simple and quick, such as a close-to-size tolerance of +/- .010, with a chamfer on one end. Other parts have a complicated radius and relief groove, with a press in to tolerance of +0./-.0005. Once I had to modify a tool to make just the relief groove. Sometimes those tolerances are extremely minuscule.  

What has been the best thing about your internship experience? 

I have learned so much and continue to learn something every day. The guys I work with are probably the next best part – they support and help me when I need it. They also treat me like I fit in. I love being there! 

Can you share a story that happened during your internship? 

I’ve learned that it really does take teamwork – if one thing is missed or completed incorrectly, it can impact the whole chain of work. Recently, I was creating 32 individual parts that were all alike. It took some precision as the machine could only run so fast and the material required close attention. After I finished, I sent them on to the next step for some holes to be added to each part. After I sent them on, I was asked for one more part so they’d have an extra. Then later, I was asked for another 32 of the same parts! It turned out some quality steps were missed farther down the production line so we needed to start that machining process over.  

Would you recommend an internship to other Thaddeus Stevens College students? 

Absolutely! An internship gives you a chance to take the theoretical learning you’ve completed in the labs to learn how it can be applied in the workforce, and learn even more.  

How do you think your experience will help you in the future? 

I think my experience will greatly help me in the future. I will already know how to complete certain tasks, and being accustomed to a workplace and a team means that I can work independently without a lot of support and be depended on more than someone without experience.  

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