Each day at Applied Research Associates was different. Being a consulting/contracting firm (dealing mostly with government and military) presented various challenges and projects. A typical day would usually consist of reviewing lab write ups/white papers, preforming a variety of tests, generating lab reports, and finally submitting lab reports.
I learned a variety of tasks including (but not limited to) preforming various tests, generating test protocols, generating lab write ups, designing and manufacturing test jigs/fixtures.
The management at Applied Research Associates was relatively strict, but still very knowledgeable. They were very strict on meeting deadlines and being under budget, which is completely understandable when dealing with contracts. But it can however make for a very stressful work environment.
My co-workers were very knowledgeable and came from a variety of backgrounds and schools/degrees. It was not unheard of for an engineer to work with a physics major. It made for very interesting group dynamics, but also made it easier to generating new concepts by having people from different backgrounds.
The hardest part of the job was generating the white papers and lab reports while still meeting the, usually, tight deadlines.
The most enjoyable part of the job was the challenge. Every day you worked on something different, it was great for keeping you stimulated and interested in the work you were doing. Each day was a great learning opportunity.