Not entirely sure if this belongs here, but anyway.
I'm an A-level student about to begin a work placement at the University of Manchester Electrical and Electronic Engineering department. Although I've done AS Physics and so know a bit about electricity, I don't do electronics, and so really, my knowledge is rather limited.
Has anyone else been in a similar situation? I know they do research stuff for higher level undergraduates over the summer, but I can't see me being much use there. Frankly, I don't even know why they let me do it, the guy I emailed seemed to imply that it was a fairly unique thing and there wouldn't be anyone else at my level there.
What can I expect? Will I be cleaning and sorting out boxes of resistors? Also, any last minute electrical things I should brush up on so I don't look like too much of an idiot in front of someone who could be potentially deciding whether I get into that University in a few months time?
If they let you in, they'll probably expect you to know nothing. It's up to you whether you want to read yourself up on it before you go.
The best thing you can do there is to ask a lot of questions and just try to ask if you can help out with anything (yes, you might be sorting resistors -- it's an opportunity to learn the color coding!). Basically just try to fish for things that might help you in your 1st year whenever you go there as a proper student.
Yeah, should be no problems. I did a similar placement (only 3 weeks though) at Warwick University in the computer science department. They had me checking components, building and testing student laboratory work (things like programming a miniature elevator, solving problems with department labs - as I recall, one of them involved working out why a high speed camera was showing flickering on the images it recorded - turned out the dimmable bar lights they were using we're operating at a different frequency to mains voltage - we determined that with an oscilloscope, light meter and solar cell.)
Didn't need to know anything before hand, learnt a load on how to read datasheets, programming basics, soldering, hardware communications protocols - it set me up and now I'm a fully qualified professional electronics engineer having studied it at university - thanks in part to that work placement because it was such a great experience.
Yeah - go along, have fun, ask questions, aim to learn loads when you're there - if you're sorting out resistor trays then do it quickly and ask if you can be involved in some more interesting problems or a small project of your own. Golden rule - if you don't ask, you don't get.