Summer of Engineering interns prove their worth

Two smiling participants in the Summer of Engineering are standing in a room, smiling in front of a sign that says 'Clutterbot'.

Student participants of The Summer of Engineering internship programme at Clutterbot.

Wellington-based tech firm Clutterbot is a step closer to producing household robots. It's all thanks to help from interns over the summer. 

For the past two years, Clutterbot has been part of the Summer of Engineering programme. It's an expansion of the successful Summer of Tech internship programme. 

Clutterbot sees Summer of Engineering as a way to access resources. It's also about giving young professionals valid work experience. “It’s a great low-risk opportunity for companies. We get to give back but at the same time get a skilled resource that is enthusiastic and hungry for work,” says Clutterbot mechanical engineer Kimberley Attwell. 

Clutterbot builds AI-enabled household robots that tidy up toys, clothing, and other clutter off the floor. To help boost production, the company employed three interns over the summer. 

During his three-month tenure, Patrick Eir maintained and ran 3D printers. He was part of the robot chassis team which works on robots’ mechanical design. “He picked up a lot of the workload and managed to help us get 10 robots manufactured and assembled,” says Kimberly. 

Those 10 robots are heading for Clutterbot’s branch in Bengaluru, India. There, robot software teams will write code to enable the robots to do their job. “Ultimately, our goal is to send these robots to people's houses to help them keep a clutter-free life,” says Kimberly. 

Internships open doors

Patrick’s internship helped Clutterbot keep on track with project deadlines. It also opened doors to invaluable experiences and learning opportunities for Patrick. 

“Working alongside experienced professionals in your field exposes you to insights and knowledge that you wouldn’t typically encounter in a classroom setting, which is so crucial when starting in the engineering industry,” says Patrick. “I have gained valuable skills relevant to my mechanical engineering degree, such as CAD design and understanding of design processes. It’s been a real confidence booster. 

“It’s made me so happy to help produce 10 robots for the company. It’s extraordinary knowing that I’ve got to be a part of the Clutterbot story and that I can look back and leave a legacy.” 

Businesses benefit 

Clutterbot’s chief hardware officer Jack Bannister-Sutton speaks highly of the Summer of Engineering programme. He started as an intern himself at Tekron International through the Summer of Tech programme. Like Patrick, Jack knows the programme is a win-win for students and businesses alike. 

“Businesses gain many benefits from hiring interns. They bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to the table, especially considering the ever-changing evolution of new technology.” 

Additionally, internships allow businesses to identify and recruit talented students who may eventually join the company. Two of Clutterbot’s three interns have returned to university. The third has accepted a full-time job offer at the company.

“It’s cost-beneficial. By the time interns finish, they understand the company well and how it works. That saves the company time and money instead of trying to find a graduate, train them, and get them up to speed,” says Patrick.

Over the summer of 2023/24, 15 engineering students were part of the Summer of Engineering programme. Nine of them were from the Wellington region.