The Cooperative Education program and the Internship Education program both provide students with valuable experiences that enhance their academic progress, their leadership skills, and also helps off-set the costs of academic life, for all positions are paid and some include benefits.
Here are co-op and internship stories as told by our students:
The featured student this week is Jonathan Farmer, a Nuclear Engineering major from Tullahoma, Tennessee, who worked as a co-op student at Dominion in Richmond, Virginia.
In reporting on his rotation, Jonathan specifically worked in the Nuclear Analysis and Fuels department for Dominion Resources. The group he was in was called the Nuclear Core Design (NCD). NCD is in charge of monitoring all of Dominion's nuclear reactors and most of the time is spent on analysis of data coming from the reactors to ensure that they are operating within NRC and Dominions guidelines.
In particular, Jonathan was responsible for the monthly reporting for the North Anna Power Plant reactors and Millstone Power Plant Unit 2. The monthly reporting consisted of running computer codes to simulate and analyze how the core had performed over the month, and then puts the results of that analysis into reports that could be shared with reactor engineering at the plant and could be used to prove to the NRC that they were operating within guidelines if required. This process took up the first two weeks of each month and then he would work with full time engineers with projects they were currently working on, such as pre-outage work and testing updates to computer codes.
The featured student this week is Jillian Schwendeman, a biomedical engineering major from Marietta, Ohio, who worked as a co-op student at ChoiceSpine in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Schwendeman worked in the Engineering Research and Design Department. The engineers assigned her different tasks as they needed to get projects done. She helped a lot with editing and creating drawings for their parts. She was also given design tasks for improving certain instruments.
Schwendeman was able to enhance her skills working with the Solidworks and the process of 3D printing and how to operate the SAP system. At times some of her assignments felt challenging since she wasn't familiar with the systems they used for designing all the projects and to fulfill the expectations set for her but she learned how to ask a lot of questions and for the input or ideas of others.
Being able to work in the professional setting while still in school gave her a lot of experience with not only engineering, but communication and responsibility in the workforce.
The featured student this week is Isaiah Cash, a computer engineering major from Corryton, Tennessee, who worked as a co-op student at Motorola Solutions in Franklin, Tennessee.
Cash worked in the public safety communications department. Their land mobile radios are the basis for police, medical, and emergency services across the country. He was expected to coverage test areas with new radio systems.
Most of his time during the work term was spent with the customer or other Motorola engineers. Although driving around in a car testing radio strength is monotonous, he was incorporated with senior engineers to understand the system and network required for their radio systems. His training mostly involved being with other engineers in the field. There were few upfront guidelines or staged training, so he was able to take time learning from the other engineers or on his own.
Cash gained a few technical skills while on the job which included networking and the RF systems. A big challenge to him since the company is very spread out over the southeast, he had to learn how to travel at moment’s notice. It was important to plan travel and keep up with work responsibilities outside of the office.
The featured student this week is Cassandra Finney, a chemical and biomolecular engineering student from Clarksville, Tennessee, who worked as a co-op student at Exxon Mobil Chemical Plant.
In reporting on her rotation, Finney specifically worked in the technical department where they produce Santoprene. She was able to interact with all departments in the plant and gained a variety of different experiences.
Many projects were beyond her knowledge, but she was able to ask questions and take them one step at a time and accomplish them. A major lesson she gained from her co-op experience was that communications and business relationships with people are key for success.
The featured student this week is Christopher Scott, a chemical engineering major from Loudon, Tennessee, who worked as a co-op student at SABIC Innovative Plastics in Mt. Vernon, Indiana.
Scott worked specifically in CPP Resin. His responsibilities and projects involved EHS items to reduce safety concerns as well as improving the efficiency of processes in the plant. The chemical operations environment is a challenging environment to work in, but he found that to be beneficial to learning and growing as an engineer. In addition, a key lesson he acquired from this challenge was that good communication is key to being able to solve problems and learn from the experience from others.
The featured student this week is Brooklyn Browner, a chemical engineering major from Hendersonville, Tennessee, who worked for the Dow Chemical Company in Hahnville, Louisiana.
Browner worked at the Ethylene Oxide plant within the St. Charles Operations in Hahnville. Her three main projects during her work term were to complete the ethylene oxide recovery column tails cool condensate tie-in, establish the ethylene oxide piping Global Mechanical Integrity Safety Standard (GMISS) revalidation, and to assess the GMISS phase II action items from an audit gap.
The most valuable benefit she received from accepting this co-op was the opportunity to work at one of the world's largest chemical companies and gain technical work experience that simply can't be learned in a classroom setting. She also gained an abundant amount of hands on experience, which comprised of technical and non-technical skills.
The featured student this week is Benjamin Hopkins, a chemical engineering major from Greeneville, Tennessee, who worked as a co-op student at SABIC Innovative Plastics in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.
Hopkins worked specifically with the reliability group in maintenance. His role was to help develop maintenance strategies for all on-site equipment. Some of his day-to-day tasks included conducting critically assessments for various systems within the plant, managing on-site inspections, conducting RCA’s (Root Cause Analysis) on equipment failure, and analyzing and developing pressure relief systems.
"All of those projects are centered around helping the maintenance department increase the reliability of equipment and develop plans to prevent future equipment failures," said Hopkins.
One of his major projects involved using an unfamiliar software package called Ivara, which was a challenge to learn to use, keep up the pace with his project, and make sure all the work was accurate. As he grew to know the program he could add more complexity to solve the problems he faced.
A key lesson Hopkins came to learn was that even though a situation can be difficult or confusing, and can seem daunting at times, breaking down the problem into more manageable pieces is a powerful tool. Another valuable benefit he took away from this rotation was learning to take technical ideas and communicate effectively to both technical and non-technical groups. While understanding your target audiences’ level of inference with various subjects allows for successful communication for a team.
This week's featured student is Christopher Dias, a mechanical engineering student, from Cookeville, Tennessee, who did a co-op rotation with Southern Company in Cartersville, Georgia.
Dias worked in the engineering department at one of the largest coal fired power plants in North America. As a plant engineer, he gained valuable project management experience, applied knowledge learned in school to solve problems around the plant, and built strong relationships. He was head of a team in an investigation to air flow issues in and around the furnace, ran a coal pipe replacement project over the course of two months, and participated in various inspections throughout his work term.
He also received training in multiple software packages, various company policies, and presentation skills. Most of this was in a classroom setting, which was very beneficial. However, "training" is a broader topic than classrooms and chalkboards; some of the most valuable training I received was on the job, learning from the veterans about every aspect of the plant.
A challenge Dias faced was learning to effectively communicate, which was a struggle. When you're working with someone, unless you tell them what you're doing and how you're doing it—nothing will get done. Using face to face communication is also key for a successful working environment.
This week's featured student is Austin Gomez, a mechanical engineering major, from Maryville, Tennessee. He worked as a coop student with Altec Industries in Burnsville, North Carolina.
Gomez worked in the design department as a product engineer and his responsibilities were to work with Solidworks, a 3D design program, and make models and drawings of parts and assemblies that will be released to the floor once completed so production can begin. He has already completed two bodies, both in which he had to contact the sales representative because changes were made.
Gomez is currently working on drawings for a new project. All drawings of parts and assemblies must be completed before production can begin. Austin has been able to advance his knowledge and skills within Solidworks and has learned to work with new file sharing programs that the company uses. These programs are called Teamcenter, Ethos, and Oracle. All three programs work together to support the database in which hundreds of thousands of files are stored and shared throughout the entire company, worldwide.
Our featured student this week is Neil Scruggs, a civil engineering major who worked in the construction division of TDOT under the director and the five assistant directors in all four regions of the State of Tennessee. His responsibilities were to give assistance to his superiors, which in turn taught him how the day-to-day operations run on the job.
"The construction division is responsible for contractor prequalification, bid authorization, and bid lettings for TDOT," said Scruggs. "I worked with project plans, utility plans, TDOT specifications, constructability, and micro station while working this summer. Additionally, I toured the State of Tennessee, visiting project sites in all four regions. The first two weeks were spent learning to review plans, engage in meetings, and speak technically while working. This was done by immersing me in exercises meant to teach me the skills of the job."
His job assignment afforded Scruggs the opportunity to work in all four regions of the state: Knoxville, Region 1; Chattanooga, Region 2; Nashville, Region 3; and Memphis, Region 4. He was able to see how construction differs in different places due to terrain and the elements.
"Observing and engaging in constructability meetings, construction field reviews, as well as meetings with contractors allowed me to observe business being conducted," said Scruggs. "Good advice was usually given to me during these meetings from both TDOT engineers and contractors alike."
Working for TDOT afforded Scruggs the opportunity to work on exciting projects around the state, along with strengthening his social and public speaking skills.
"I now have a much better idea of the daily operations involved with civil engineering," said Scruggs. " I definitely have a much clearer idea of what direction I want to go in upon graduation."
This week's featured student is Tiffany Onwu, a chemical engineering major from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, who did a coop rotation with DuPont/Chemours in New Johnsonville, Tennessee.
Onwu worked primarily in the department that focused on the finished product. Her projects included assisting with implementing and training of a new instrument that would be used to monitor the quality of the finalized product. She also was involved with a project that was used to improve the quality of the product by performing various laboratory tests and collecting data.
Her training experience consisted majority of instruments used to test for certain specifications on finalized products. She learned new technical skills on how to perform process capability which displays the actual performance versus the customers' specifications based on each quarter.
A challenge she faced was learning how to be able to balance and manage her time between projects. It was easily solved with scheduling in her calendar and dedicating certain days to a project. She also learned that it helped with talking with her mentors frequently, which assisted in being able to prioritize various tasks.
This week's featured student is Jillian Schwendeman, a biomedical engineering major from Marietta, Ohio. Schwendeman has worked two coop rotations with ChoiceSpine. She worked in the Engineering Research and Design department.
The engineers assigned Schwendeman different tasks as they needed to get projects done. She helped a lot with editing and creating drawings for their parts. Her knowledge of the SolidWorks program is very strong at this point and she used it about 80% of the time for everything she was assigned. She was also given design tasks for improving certain instruments. At times it was challenging for her to complete the design tasks that she was given and since she didn’t have much experience it was difficult to fulfill the expectations that the engineers wanted.
Schwendeman learned to ask a lot of questions and to ask others for their input or ideas. Collaboration is a very important aspect for engineering related work. The experience has taught her how to work in a professional setting and was able to gain a lot of experience with not only engineering, but communication and responsibility in the workplace.
This week's featured student is Hala Sura, an industrial engineering major from Bartlett, Tennessee.
Sura did three co-op rotations with Georgia Power Company—A Southern Company. She worked in the Metro East and South Technical Sales department in charge of analyzing commercial and industrial load information to size transformers. The atmosphere was welcoming and she was able to relate to the other employees not just as a student.
Sura learned how to read mechanical, electrical, and plumbing plans and learned to look further to find answers to questions not just assume where you think it is. She also learned numerous professionalism skills and team building skills that she will be able to take back to the classroom. Sura gained value on seeing what was important to her by being able to coop while in school.
Ryan Mohr, a mechanical engineering major from Alcoa, Tennessee, is currently on his third coop rotation with JTEKT in Vonore, Tennessee.
Mohr works in the quality department. When he first started he was working with some noise issues with particular columns. Since then he has helped with organizing engineering areas for another plant that will be functional within two years.
While working for them, Mohr has gained knowledge in hand sketch drawings with format, noise testing machines, gear testing machines, and GANTT charts. One challenge that he encountered was after learning how certain machine shops needed there sketches, he had to send them a copy of the final sketch of some table lock brackets. When those needed to be sent his supervisors were on business trips and he had no one to double check if there were any mistakes.
After finding out the dimensions he sketched the drawing and sent it anyway. The machining company approved and the key lesson he received from that was to reach deadlines but also to benefit from doing things his way without someone double-checking him.
Our featured student this week is Connor McCollom, a mechanical engineering major who worked three consecutive semesters at BAE Systems in Kingsport, Tennessee.
"I thought it was really important to do a coop instead of an internship," said McCollom. "My experience might have been different than some because I worked for an explosives manufacturer."
The first semester of McCollom's time with BAE involved mostly training related to the manufacturing process for the explosives being produced. As he moved into the later stages of his first semester on through the second semester, he was given more responsibilities on the job.
"As the coop progressed into my third and final rotation, I managed a project to completion as a fully functioning engineer," he said. "Working a coop assignment verses an internship has given me a wealth of experience both for future interviews and for future careers."
This week's featured student is Taylor Short, an electrical engineering major who did a coop rotation with Southern Company in Atlanta, Georgia.
Short worked in Research and Technology Management. This department conducts research on various topics that affect our industry including: generation, transmission, distribution, renewables, and many others. She worked specifically in the transmission and substation research. There were three of them that focused on this research. They were involved in research that improves our current infrastructure and procedures.
Short was heavily involved in a couple of different projects including: two sensors for substation equipment, an online transformer dehydrator, and diagnostic tool for circuit breakers using current equipment. She also was involved heavily in one of the sensor projects. This project consists of using a laser to detect the amount of acetylene in a bushing. They conducted an initial lab test and provided feedback to the development team.
By accepting this coop she valued learning how to work in a diverse group of people. Her department is made up of a diverse group of personalities. While she had experience with a diverse group of people previously, this was a completely different environment. She has also gotten more exposure and experience in the field then she ever would have expected.
Mark Terrones II, a mechanical engineering major, spent his summer in his fourth rotational assignment as a production engineering co-op at DENSO Manufacturing in Maryville, Tennessee.
His duties included implementing new assembly lines and manufacturing processes, as well as continuously improving existing processes to advance production efficiency while decreasing defect possibilities. As an engineer, Terrones found the work very challenging. He also felt that it was gratifying to wprk each day to solve new problems that directly affect production workers on the assembly floor.
"DENSO is a great company with dedicated employees that have assisted me from day one in growing as a professional, an engineer, and as an individual," said Terrones. "I am grateful for the opportunity with Denso and the Engineering Professional Practice Office."
This week's featured student is Kristina King, a civil and environmental engineering major from Telford, Tennessee, who worked as an intern student for Federal Highway Association-Eastern Federal Lands.
She spent most of her time working on the missing link of the Foothills Parkway in Townsend, Tennessee. She also did inspections of ongoing construction projects to ensure that the as-built matched the drawings from the design division and kept and inspector’s daily report that detailed each day’s events, the materials and equipment used, and the number of employees working. Outside of the field work, she maintained a concrete placement log with information regarding slump, air content, and temperature.
King learned many new technical skills such as reading plans, concrete testing, native plant revegetation, and general construction site activities. The most valuable benefit she took away from this experience was a new knowledge of how diverse civil engineering is and how much of every aspect is represented in one single project.
This week’s featured student is Sidney Barry, a materials science and engineering major from Brentwood, Tennessee. Barry worked as a co-op student with Flint Group in Asheville, North Carolina.
He mainly worked in the technology department as a development engineer. He was able to lead a few projects related to quality improvement. One of the projects he got to oversee was the production trials with adjusted formulations to find a correlation between the downward shift in compressibility and a corresponding shift in microsphere density, a constituent of the blankets compressible profiles and viscosity.
One of the challenges while on co-op were that many of the projects were observational than hands on, so he had to familiarize himself with the different processes. A valuable benefit was being able to use statistics to look for variations and patterns in raw data, rather than using basic tools to find them.
This week’s featured student is Madison Brummitt, a Biosystems engineering major from Churchill, Tennessee, who worked as a co-op student with Cargill in Memphis.
In reporting on his rotation, Brummitt worked in the acidulates department. His first assignment was to calculate the steam flow around an evaporator using historical pi data and the current valve percentage. From there, he was able to get a formula that could estimate the steam flow through the evaporator at any percentage. He also worked on upgrading a liquid transfer pump. The most valuable benefit he received was patience. Working in a factory he had to wait for long approval processes to ensure the work was accurate and safe which could take weeks.
This week’s featured student is Garrett Smith, a chemical engineering major from Blountville, Tennessee, who worked as a co-op student with Eastman Chemical Company.
In reporting on his rotation, Smith worked in the Process Safety Services Department, which maintains and improves the safety of the company through a variety of methods and implementation. His main focus was to Process Hazard Analysis (PHA), which is a set of organized and systematic assessments of the potential hazards associated with an industrial process.
While working on a co-op, Smith obtained knowledge of how the chemical industry works and gained technical experience, which will all be beneficial to him once he graduates.
This week's featured student is Curtis Maffei, a biosystems engineering major who worked as a co-op student for BAE Systems in Kingsport, Tennessee.
In reporting on his rotation, Maffei worked in both the Energy Management and Facilities Maintenance Departments. While in the energy management, he was responsible for helping perform a semiannual audit with an outside organization. He also helped collect and organize energy usage data for management reviews on site. While in the facilities maintenance department, he coordinated a drinking water flow meter project from beginning to finish. His most valuable benefit received was the experience that he could take with him in his future endeavors.
This week’s featured student is Parker McCullough, an industrial engineering major, from Rockwood, Tennessee, who worked as a co-op student at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
In reporting on his rotation, McCullough worked with both the hardware controls team and the Personnel Protection Systems team (PPS). In the hardware team, he was mainly in charge of creating test procedures for the machine protection system chassis. That included getting the specifications for the hardware requirements, writing LabVIEW code, and implementing the test procedure. He also tested several different classes of hardware.
In the PPS team, McCullough worked on a software project that tests oxygen deficiency monitors. The most valuable benefit received was the opportunity to work and learn in a professional and cutting edge facility.
This week's featured student is Matthew Bowman, a mechanical engineering major from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, who worked as a co-op student at Briggs and Stratton Corporation.
In reporting on his rotation, Bowman worked in the Aluminum Machining-Design Department. His responsibilities included production of W-22 and W-26 cylinders, designing additions for machinery, floor layout management, PLC control, and project management.
The most valuable benefits Bowman received was a better understanding of design program through a professional environment and to have the opportunity to work in a manufacturing setting to get a better understanding of his major.
This week's featured student is Reimi Sato, an industrial engineering major who worked as a co-op student at Shaw Industries in Dalton, Georgia.
In reporting on her rotation, Sato worked in the process improvement department which is responsible for making budgets, cost reduction of processes, improving work procedures, and waste center control. Her responsibilities included updating current systems weekly, managing waste center, and checking raw materials. She also had to justify whether warping was a bottleneck of beam tufting and reorganization of yarn in the warehouse.
The most valuable benefit Sato received was learning how industrial engineering tools are applied in real life situations. It deepened her understanding in work measurement and she also got to learn materials that will be covered in future classes. The experience earned in a co-op adds tremendous benefit on top of what lectures can offer.
The featured student this week is Kelci Bryson, a chemical & biomolecular engineering major who worked as a co-op student at The Dow Chemical Company in Louisville, Kentucky.
In reporting on her rotation, Bryson worked in the plastic additives and dryers department. When she first began at Dow, she went through extensive training where she learned more about the plant and how it worked. Her first main project was to create a deluge P&ID for one of the units.
She also created and reviewed a lot of procedures, which is the plant’s method of operation. In working with those procedures, she had to communicate with a wide variety of people to discover the most efficient way to complete the task.
The most valuable thing she gained from this experience was how to communicate with a variety of people who may or may not be in her field of study and learning how the units operate and fixing them when something breaks.
The featured student this week is Danny Vo, a chemical & biomolecular engineering major who worked as a co-op student at what was a DuPont facility and is now a Chemours facility in New Johnsonville, Tennessee.
In reporting on his second rotation, Danny worked in the research and development group at New Johnsonville Chemours Titanium Technologies. His focus was to start up and run a pilot facility, optimizing its process and analyzing the data associated with the process flow. He was also trained on new lab technologies and how to incorporate them into his project.
The most valuable benefit received was insight. This co-op opportunity gave him incredible insight into what his degree means and what it can lead to for the future. Not only that, but chemical engineering has a broad spectrum of applications. If he decides that manufacturing isn’t something he wants to do, he can go into pharmaceuticals, research, or food industry, etc. It's a very versatile major.
The featured student this week is Cassandra Finney, a chemical and biomolecular engineering student from Clarksville, Tennessee, who worked as a co-op student at Exxon Mobil Chemical Plant.
In reporting on her rotation, Finney specifically worked in the technical department where they produce Santoprene. She was able to interact with all departments in the plant and gained a variety of different experiences.
Many projects were beyond her knowledge, but she was able to ask questions and take them one step at a time and accomplish them. A major lesson she gained from her co-op experience was that communications and business relationships with people are key for success.
This week's featured student is Mason Wortman, a mechanical engineering major from Chattanooga, Tennessee, who worked as a co-op student at Kimberly-Clark Corporation's tissue mill in Loudon, Tennessee.
Wortman worked specifically in both manufacturing and converting departments for bath tissue. As a mechanical engineering co-op, his tasks revolved around making certain the machine equipment was running effectively and efficiently to ensure that the paper created met company and customer standards. Day-to-day, he worked with Senior level engineers conducting analysis on draws within the drives on converting equipment, to inspecting the Yankee dryers, essential to creating the paper.
There have been many beneficial opportunities for him to grow, and develop, as an aspiring engineer. Wortman had many opportunities to design practical additions to the machines knowing they would improve the functionality of the machines in some way. As many of these upgrades will take place after his return to UT, he has spent many hours creating detailed assembly drawings, and documents, with information that will allow for the installation of these design projects to remain rather self-explanatory even with his absence. This challenge simply reiterates the importance of being able to communicate through all media outlets to effectively meet a project’s goal.
This week's featured student is Pear Tansakul, who worked on a coop rotation with Nelson Global Products Company in Clinton, Tennessee. Tansakul worked with the Continuous Improvement Leader and her assignments included time studies in different cells in the plant to make improvements, making PQPR reports to analyze the process of each part number, update old work instructions and create new work instructions and participate in a Kaizen event which involves improvement of the overall cell.
There were some challenges that she came across while working on the layout of the cells in the plant but it taught her to different ways to problem solve. As she finished her coop she gained the knowledge and understanding of her potential job field.
This week's featured student is Daniel Whitcomb, a chemical engineering major from Nashville, Tennessee, who worked at Dow's Polyethylene B plant on their site in Plaquemine, Louisiana. His responsibilities included organizing moisture data from the warehouse, building spreadsheets for creating reports, finding unregistered insulated pipes on P & ID's, measuring pits and dikes, creating flowsheets on Aspen, SSIS audits for pressure safety valves and learning the processes of the plant.
Whitcomb had no idea what it was like to work in a plant before this assignment, and he finally had an understanding of the kind of job he could have as a chemical engineer. The experience of working in the plant was invaluable as it allowed him to judge what kind of job positions he would like to try. This was a wonderful experience and he looks forward to his next coop rotational assignment in the near future.
This week’s featured student is Josiah Brandt, a chemical & biomolecular engineering major, who worked as a co-op student at Shaw Industries in Dalton, Georgia.
In reporting on his rotation, Brandt worked in the carpet dyeing department. Some of his responsibilities as a co-op included: learning printer, kuster and dye building processes, helped audit tufting department, wrote speed group schedules for shift start-ups, recorded carpet transition piece usage and measured changeovers.
The most valuable benefit he obtained during his rotation was the work experience that helps add to his education and contributes to his development as an individual.
Blake McDavid, a mechanical engineering major from Kingsport, Tennessee, worked as a co-op student at BMW Manufacturing Company in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
McDavid worked in MN-31 which is responsible for the supplier quality of software, interior, and electric components. Some of his responsibilities as a co-op included: problem solving quality issues with external QMTs and suppliers, supporting prufecubing and line trial events, and performing product and process audits at suppliers.
The most valuable benefit he received by accepting his co-op was gaining experience in a real-world working environment and networking with individuals who have had very successful careers in automotive engineering.
Our students this week are brothers Zachary and Nicholas Menning. Both are mechanical engineering majors who accepted a co-op at Nissan Motor Manufacturing Corp. U.S.A., located in Smyrna, Tennessee.
Both worked in the Car System Ring Line, the area of the plant where the engine, front sub frame, and rear sub frame are decked to the partially assembled car body. Over the plant's summer shutdown, their group has been working on installing new equipment and making some facilities changes to accommodate production for future models.
They have been assisting with the demolition during the beginning of the shutdown and will be modifying a few assist devices later in the week. This involves a lot of hands on work—tearing down conveyors, modifying machine parts, and creating CAD drawings to reflect these modifications. All of this experience—drawing with AutoCAD, working with the machine shop, and re-assembling equipment—will all be very helpful to them when they resume engineering classes at UT.
In the photo at right, the brothers are standing next to two identical copies of the recently Launched 2016 Nissan Maxima. Over the last year, they have been working with process engineering group to prepare the Smyrna plant to launch this vehicle. Although they haven't both been working with the same model vehicle, work for both of them has involved designing part sub-assembly fixtures, measuring and evaluating trial vehicles on the production lines, and working with vehicle design engineers to solve issues that the plant team finds during trials.
Through their experiences at Nissan, the Mennings have been able to work with many different groups of people—from the shop floor technicians to design engineers from Japan to company executives—that each have different perspectives and new ideas about how to solve problems. After learning about and experiencing all the hard work required to launch a brand new vehicle, it was a proud moment for the brothers to stand next to these brand new cars that will go to their customers.
Zack and Nick Menning agreed that investigating and measuring vehicles in the lab, writing technical reports, designing fixtures, and working with the shop floor manufacturing team have all been very valuable experiences that will benefit them for the rest of their engineering career.
Chris Kelly, a mechanical engineering major who accepted a co-op at Norfolk Southern located in Norfolk, Virginia. Kelly described the department he worked in and what his main responsibilities were.
"I worked in the mechanical department," he said. "My responsibilities included anything that was problem solving related. I was tasked with making things more ergonomic, efficient, and effective."
A challenge that Kelly had to overcome on this assignment was being tasked with nearly ten projects at one time.
"After a few days of struggling, I learned to be better organized and to manage time wisely," Kelly said. "I created an Excel spreadsheet with the current projects listed by priority. I also learned how to effectively update supervisors with the progress of each project."
While on assignment, Kelly observed, "In any co-op position, it is up to the individual how much knowledge and experience is gained. The co-op must have the burning desire to learn and the initiative to seek learning experiences. Therefore, my most valuable benefit received during this co-op assignment was how to take the initiative and go after what I seek in a job opportunity."
Our student this week is Rosemary Dabbs, a chemical engineering major who accepted a co-op at DuPont Titanium Technologies located in New Johnsonville, Tennessee. She describes the department she worked in and responsibilities.
"My position for the spring was in the R&D department at DuPont Titanium Technologies," she said. "Throughout my time spent working this spring, I had three main projects."
Her first project involved troubleshooting the performance of an online meter in order to implement the meter into process control. The second project comprised of testing the reliability and repeatable of a current measurement method and then using this test to investigate how certain operating conditions affected product composition. Her third project consisted of building a characterization of washing efficiency for technology currently used in process in order to understand where improvements can be made.
"While I was here, I picked up several smaller projects that included model validation and an evaluation of a process control calculation," said Dabbs. "All of these projects required sampling, running lab test, and analyzing data. Additional objectives to accomplish by the end of the term were to have zero safety incidents and to become familiar with the overall process specifically in my designated area."
Dabbs found vaulable benefits during her co-op assignment.
“It gave me professional experience in leading plant research tests, communicating with a diverse group of people, and developing my laboratory skills," she said. "I think, however, the most valuable benefit I have obtained from this co-op is learning how to take initiative. Being a leader is something that is difficult to teach in a classroom. After my time here, I feel more confident in my ability to be a self-starter and work with others."
Our student this week is Shahad Abdulrahman, a civil engineering major who accepted an internship at Brasfield and Gorrie located in Birmingham, Alabama. She describes the department he worked in and what his main responsibilities were.
"I worked with the Nashville Commercial department," she said. "I spent the majority of my time working on the Tractor Supply Company Project. My main responsibility was to aid with the closeout process. I took full responsibility of making sure that all the items on the punch lists were complete to Brasfield and Gorrie's standards. I contacted sub-contractors daily and communicated issues and concerns regarding the project. I also assisted with estimating for the Fedex ground project in Memphis, Tennessee. I made myself available and assisted other colleagues during my time as an intern."
The assignment was a very new experience for Abdulrahman.
"I had to overcome being intimidated and not knowing what to do," she said. "The key was just going out there and doing things on my own. My supervisors gave me the opportunity to take my time and learn at my own pace. I believe that I am more productive now because I am not afraid to do things on my own."
The challenge of experience was also the most valuable benefit Abdulrahman."It was doing something that I have always wanted to do — which is project management," she said. "In addition to that, I believe that this internship has helped me know exactly what I want to do when I graduate."
Our student this week is Matthew Shapiro, a mechanical engineering major who accepted a co-op at Malibu Boats of Tennessee located in Loudon, Tennessee. He describes the department he worked in and what his main responsibilities were.
"I worked with the plastics and sewing departments to improve upon the interior design of every boat," said Shapiro. "Specifically, I worked with the CNC routers and Lectra machine (machine for cutting vinyl patterns) to make fixes and improvements to current production pieces. I also spent a good portion of this work term preparing new interior designs for the new model year."
A challenge that Shapiro had to overcome on this assignment was to be a better communicator. "There were a few times during this work term where I failed to convey something clearly and it led to issues that I could have resolved by simply being better at communicating," he said.
The most valuable benefit Shapiro received during his co-op assignment was in gaining experience. "I feel more confident in the skills I can offer a future employer because of the valuable skills I have learned on my assignment," he said.
Our student this week is Edward Kiombe, a biosystems engineering major who accepted a co-op at Nissan Motor Manufacturing Corp. USA located in Smyrna, Tennessee. Edward describes the department he worked in and what his main responsibilities were.
“I worked in the manufacturing equipment department that dealt with new models," he said. "I assisted the engineers with solutions to problems with the equipment when it did not work as it should. I created counter measures and executed them.”
A challenge that Kiombe had to overcome on this assignment involved windshield installation.
“When setting a windshield to a car, there is the issue of variance when glass is placed on different units," he said. "When this variance is out of specification it can cause leaks and cracks. I helped to create a centering system to lessen the variance.”
Kiombe received valuable benefits during his co-op assignment. “There is so much to learn and it is great to have people around you who are willing to teach you,” he said.
Our student this week is nuclear engineering major Andrew Adams, who accepted a co-op at Southern Company located in Waynesboro, Georgia. Adams describes the department he worked in and what his main responsibilities were.
"I worked in the Programs department," he said. "Programs are processes that help the plant run and function properly during operation. This semester, my main project was helping to develop the program that controlled and calibrated the measuring and test equipment that will be used to perform measurements and tests on plant equipment."
A challenge that Adams had to overcome on this assignment was in making contact with people to establish a connection for working on assignments
"I've never been one for putting myself out there and meeting new people," he said. "But this semester has given me the confidence to take initiative and establish work connections with those whom I can have a mutual benefit."
The most valuable benefit Adams received during his co-op assignment was learning more about the industry and his degree.
"This has helped give me more of an idea of what kind of work I like and what I want to do when I graduate," Adams said.
Our student this week is Jordan Parkhurst, a Chemical engineering major who accepted a co-op at MARS Petcare located in Nashville, Tennessee. Parkhurst describes the department he worked in and what his main responsibilities were.
"I worked as a Global Applied Science Technology (GAST) intern, at the STARS facility for Mars Petcare," he said. "My responsibilities included preparation each day for the project at hand, executing mass balance calculations, automating and implementing automation for our large design experiment, extrusion work including extrusion theory and extrusion rheology, extrusion kibble trials, as well as helping at a larger Mars plant with one of the current R&D trials."
A challenge that Jordan had on this assignment was running a design experiment with multiple parameters.
"Something I brought to my supervisors attention is the problem of time point readings in our extreme cooking times (fifteen to sixty minutes)," said Parkhurst. "Conventionally we would take a temperature and pressure reading every five minutes. With a fifteen-minute run, we would only have three time points, and this is not acceptable. I suggested computer software and electrical PTs and TTs attached to controllers to automate the system. I found the correct controllers, learned how to wire in 4-20mA sensors to the controllers, and how to wire the LIN-bus system to integrate through a RS-485 USB and in to the SLSOFT software, thus giving us a time point reading every thirty seconds. I learned suggestions, even though they may seem outlandish to the norm, may be great ideas!"
Parkhurst said the most valuable benefit that he received during his co-op assignment was, "I think the experience, as well as getting to know the people of Mars, and learning their work culture was the largest benefit. You can only learn so much from school, but the bulk of what it takes to be something like an engineer is learning from experience. I work alongside many folks with a lot of experience that they're happy to share with me, and that's a priceless benefit!"
Our student this week is Jonathon Sill, an aerospace engineering major, who accepted a co-op at NASA/John F. Kennedy Located at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. He described the department he worked in and what his main responsibilities were.
"I worked in the Office of Safety & Mission Assurance," he said. "Due to the time I spent on rotation, I was able to contribute to several projects that supported the NASA mission."
One of his most in-depth projects was creating risk-based assessments (RBA's) for the RS-25 engines (formerly known as SSME's).
"My role was to establish a history of the engines; i.e. determine the time each engine had spent undergoing hot-fire testing or in flight," said Sill. "I analyzed what (if anything) had gone wrong at each joint and what corrective action was taken afterward. This data helped us then evaluate the risk by weighing the likelihood of the event to happen vs. the severity of the event (should it occur). From there, we were able to assign the risk to the flight hardware and complete the RBA."
Another project he was able to work on was determining the "Maximum Credible Event" (MCE) for SSC facilities.
"The goal of this project was to assume the worst-case scenario for a facility and determining the qualitative distance(s) (QD) or the distance away from the facility an individual may be and be affected by the results of an explosion," he said. "In one scenario, it was our job to determine the QD’s for the MCE of the A1 Test Stand. We assumed that a cataclysmic event had occurred (a meteor struck the test stand and caused all of the fuel & oxidizer to simultaneously combust) and calculated the radial distance from the test stand that would be affected. This information helped us determine what PPE and safety measures would need to be taken for certain areas surrounding such facilities."
In addition to these, Sill also oversaw the removal of J-2X Engine 10002, the install of J-2X Engine 10003, and the install of RS-25 Engine 0525.
"I was also a part of the J-2X Test Team, supporting each hot-fire test, and I am currently a part of the RS-25 Test Team which will begin testing mid- August,” he said.
Sill found valuable benefits during his co-op assignment in reading technical drawings, becoming more advanced in MATLAB and Pro/E, and learning to problem-solve.
Our student this week is Chelsea Wilhoit, materials science engineering major who accepted a co-op at Logan Aluminum, located in Russellville, Kentucky. Wilhoit described the department she worked in and what her main responsibilities were.
"I worked mainly in the technical unit within the Product Metallurgy and Analytical Chemistry Laboratory," she said. "The Product Metallurgy department deals mainly with customer service. If one of our customers is dissatisfied with the quality of our metal, this department analyzes and decided which area/lab the product needs to be sent to for further testing. In addition, I was given the opportunity to assist in the routine testing of the oils and coolants that cycle through the mills. During this internship, I was given exposure to many different analytical chemistry machines. It was very fascinating to observe and learn about all the additives and concentrations necessary to make an aluminum mill operate efficiently."
The most valuable benefit Chelsea received during her co-op assignment was gaining experience in a new workplace environment.
"Regardless of the number of coops/internships you have, I think the biggest take away from each experience is discovering how different each individual company is," she said. "From the way they operate, to their company culture, all companies are different and it's refreshing to know that somewhere out there is a company that will coincide with your own ideals. The business knowledge gathered from the environment is great and the equipment experiences doesn’t hurt your resume, but the crucial point I took away from this summer is the importance of finding a job that you love. The people that I was able to work with really have a passion for their job and their city, its exciting witnessing this spark in their eyes."
Our student this week is Sharon Horsewood, a chemical engineering major who accepted a co-op at Keurig Green Mountain Coffee Roasters in Knoxville, Tennessee. She describes the department she worked in and what her main responsibilities were.
"I work in the process engineering group at the Knoxville, Tennessee, facility of Keurig Green Mountain," said Horsewood. "Our department's responsibilities include overseeing the green bean delivery/cleaning/transport, roasting, grinding, flavoring, and degassing of coffee prior to K-cup packaging."
The job has given her the opportunity to gain invaluable experience.
Said Horsewood, "This includes: a solo project to evaluate, offer ideas, and implement a solution for monitoring compressed air in the plant, to compile and evaluate the last six-months of green bean deliveries and offer suggestions as to how this can be altered to create better flow and consistent work, perform various tests (related to degassing) on possible changes in packaging to allow for faster packaging of our product, and attend various building expansion meetings."
The most valuable benefit for Horsewood has been the ability to put her studies in to practice.
"Completion of CBE 490 last Spring was the perfect setup for this job," she said. "A portion of our project involved calculating required energy used on a compressor and calculating the manufacturing cost. Only after I began researching my first on the job assignment (compressed air solution) did I realized many of the same calculations and concepts applied (just on a much larger scale). Interacting with the equipment these calculations are being performed on, understanding the impact and limitations as well as their overall impact on the work being done is just the opportunity I needed to solidify the concepts. I will be looking for other opportunities such as this during the rest of my co-op position here this year."
Our student this week is Aaron Armentrout, a chemical engineering major who accepted a co-op at Oak Ridge National Laboratories, located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He describes the department he worked in and what his main responsibilities were.
“I worked for the Materials Science Division here at ORNL developing a new material to serve as a fuel cell membrane," said Armentrout. A challenge that he had to overcome on this assignment was to decide how to use his time at ORNL, because it is extremely valuable.
"There are numerous lectures going on and on-campus events that are interesting," said Armentrout. "I stayed focused on our project and tried to attend lectures I could manage."
The most valuable benefit he received during his co-op assignment was: "Experience working in a professional research environment."
Our student this week is Lila Fisher, a civil engineering major, who accepted a co-op at EMJ Corporation located in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Fisher describes the department she worked in and what her main responsibilities were.
"I am working in the construction department mainly, with some estimating," she said. "My responsibilities will include assisting Project managers, Project engineers, and Estimators. It will be my responsibility to have assignments turned in promptly and completed properly. I will also need to execute all of my objectives for the term."
Fisher said that the most valuable benefit she received during her co-op assignment was, "Seeing the construction side of engineering and working with skilled people."
Will Layne, an electrical engineering major who accepted a co-op at Aerospace Testing Alliance located at Arnold AFB, Tennessee. Layne describes the department he worked in and what his main responsibilities were.
"I worked in AM21, which is the Flight Systems Asset Management," said Layne. "I worked with a system engineer on systems that aided wind tunnel testing by learning how to troubleshoot problems with electrical systems (finding grounds and shorts) and how to design additions to improve existing systems."
The most valuable benefit Layne received during his co-op assignment was learning how to work in a corporate environment.
"This experience will be invaluable in my adjusting to working life after graduation," he said. "I hope everyone in engineering has the opportunity to have exposure to similar surroundings."
Our student this week is Saumya Shah, a mechanical engineering major who accepted a co-op at John Deere Power Products, located in Greeneville, Tennessee.
Shah describes the department he worked in and what his main responsibilities were.
"I worked in the Text support and the ME departments," he said. "I worked mainly on plant and production line layouts, and on other small projects such as, assisting in the 2015 model year build, relocating welding parts to other locations and optimizing space. I gained experience working on the production line for the first couple of weeks to get to know the process of the build."
A challenge that Shah had to overcome on this assignment was to optimize the space for new parts to be placed at a specific location.
"I completed a drawing in CAD with dimension of the available space," he said. "Then I drew a footprint of the parts and placed the parts in the available space to decide which orientation would optimize the space most."
Shah tells us that receiving a real hands on opportunity working on assembly and other mechanical parts of building tractors was the most beneficial aspect of the assignment.
Shah enjoyed, "Gaining valuable CAD experience, exposure to other 3D software, and having the opportunity to gain experience working a production line."
Our student this week is Jennifer Norwood, a civil engineering major who accepted a co-op at Southern Company located in Atlanta, Georgia. Norwood describes the department she worked in and what her main responsibilities were.
"I worked in the Turbine Island/Balance of Plant group on the construction site of Vogtle 3&4 under construction compliance," she said. "I was responsible for overseeing the construction of the First Bay area as well as overseeing on both turbine islands. This includes looking at rebar, embeds, and concrete pours and making sure they align with the latest drawings, design changes, and specs."
Entering a traditionally male-dominated career area was a challenge that Norwood had to overcome on this assignment.
Being a female in construction is very different," she said. "I had to be on top of my game and know the drawings, specs, and stay up to date on design changes. I took every opportunity to be in the field so I could gain experience to add to my credibility. Once my fellow peers realized I was serious about my job and knew what I was talking about, they respected me and saw me as a peer instead of a student."
Norwood earned a particularly valuable benefit from this co-op assignment.
"I received a job offer and will return to the site after this co-op rotation as a full-time employee," said Norwood.
Our student this week is Brooke E. Davidson, a mechanical engineering major who accepted a co-op at BMW Manufacturing Company, LLC, located in Greer, South Carolina. Davidson describes the department she worked in and what her main responsibilities were.
"I worked in TS-532 Electronics Validation," she said. "Within that department I was part of the EF team which is responsible for all operations related Chassis. I had many projects throughout the semester. In one project I worked on a product quality management point where I was responsible for finding the root cause to a hardware problem that was here in the plant. Throughout this process I was able to better my problem solving skills and work on communication with other departments. Others projects I had included steering wheel vibration and tire room inventory and processes. The steering wheel vibration project taught me how to properly evaluate a car and also more about how a car is put together. The tire room inventory yet again bettered my problem solving skills."
The most valuable benefit Davidson received during her co-op assignment was in learning what a professional engineer does and what is expected in the work world.
"It has given me a real life experience to compare with classes," said Davidson. "This experience has improved my communication and problem solving skills so that I may be more confident in the future."
Our student this week is Zach Menning, a mechanical engineering major who accepted a co-op at Nissan North America, Inc., located at Smyrna, Tennessee. He describes the department he worked in and what his main responsibilities were.
"I worked in Nissan's New Model Trim & Chassis Engineering group," said Menning. "I was tasked with organizing and managing the completion of several sub-assembly jigs and fixtures for new model vehicle parts. This entails designing the fixture, contracting the project out to vendors or the machine shop to have the fixture made, and finally having the material handling group install the fixtures into their final production locations. In addition to this, I studied the effectiveness of the completed jigs and fixtures throughout production trials and performed PDCA loops on these items to ensure they are both effective and user friendly. During the whole process, I was in contact with manufacturing managers and technicians to make sure that the items not only the Engineering department's needs, but also the needs of the technicians that will be using them on a daily basis."
Menning said the most valuable benefit he received during his co-op assignment was, "A greater understanding of the manufacturing engineering process. Even though I have been working in the automotive manufacturing industry, I think that the information I learned about manufacturing could be applicable in any manufacturing setting. I learned about all of the different groups that work together to see a product from its initial design stage through prototype phases all the way to final production."
Our student this week is Dylan Moseley, at right, an industrial engineering major who accepted a co-op at John Deere Power Products, located in Greeneville, Tennessee. He describes the department he worked in and what his main responsibilities were.
"I was assigned to the manufacturing engineering department," said Moseley. "My assignments have consisted of many different projects, such as efficiency studies, auto cad layout updates, optimization of space and resources, as well as other things that assist the factory as a whole."
Moseley says that one challenge was determining where a piece of machinery for a new line was to be put in.
"I had to go over many different options and evaluate the pros and cons," he said. "I eventually came to the conclusion of what was most efficient, and that is what the company went with. I had never been assigned with something of this much importance before."
The co-op assignment offered valuable benefits, notably, Moseley said, “The importance of working as a team, and getting everyone's options and inputs."
Our student this week is Garrett Smith, a chemical engineering major who accepted a co-op at Eastman Chemical located in Kingsport, Tennessee.
Smith describes the department he worked in and what his main responsibilities were.
"I worked in Process Safety services," said Smith. "We maintain and improve the safety of the company through a variety of methods and implementations. The main bulk of what we do, however, is Process Hazard Analysis (PHA). The PHA is an examination of a process and where it could go wrong as well as the consequences of that error, be it a death."
Smith found technical experience was a valuable benefit he gained during his co-op assignment.
"I have obtained knowledge of a lot of how the chemical industry works," he said. "This will be beneficial in many ways but especially when I start my career. It will take away the initial learning process of being a real engineer and allow me to start working and contributing quickly."
Our student this week is Sarah Combee, below and at right, a nuclear engineering major who accepted an internship at Duke Energy located in Tyron, North Carolina. Combee describes the department she worked in and what her main responsibilities were.
"I worked in the Reactor Primary Systems group in the Engineering department at Harris Nuclear Plant," said Combee. "I compiled test data to help system engineers with trending, and I was very involved in pre-outage project management for a couple projects. In the project management realm I made sure that pre-outage milestone deadlines were met, figured out temp power requirements, wrote scopes of work and single source documents for contract requisition, as well as formed a recovery plan and found parts required for the project from the nuclear industry when we realized they wouldn't be at the plant in time."
Combee appreciated the challenging work she was given during her co-op assignment.
"I was exposed to roles I didn't expect in engineering, and I really feel like I got to experience life as a plant engineer," she said. "By taking an internship with Duke Energy, I was able to sample my industry and see what ownership an engineer in the nuclear field takes in their work."
Our student this week is Daniel Stone, a mechanical engineering major who accepted a co-op at Duke Energy located at Crystal River, Florida. Stone describes the department he worked in and what his main responsibilities were.
"I worked in Outage and Maintenance Services," he said. "My responsibilities: When I first arrived on site, I studied piping and instrumentation diagrams and walked down each system at the plant. I eventually began writing engineering-change work packages for various maintenance projects at the plant. I traveled to Crystal River Florida on two separate occasions during outage season to assist two boiler inspections. I also assisted four heat recovery steam generator inspections at Hines (the plant where I was located). I worked with the traveling maintenance crew when they arrived at Hines to inspect the steam turbine valve on one steam turbine. I learned the duties of the project managers whom I worked alongside."
The most valuable benefit Stone received during his co-op assignment was actual maintainability experience in the electric utility industry.
"I learned what it takes to be a project manager, how to act in the office environment, the importance of relationships and communication," said Stone. "The experience I have gained is sure to give me a leg up against the competition when it comes time to search for a job after graduation."
Our student this week is Nathan Tosh, a mechanical engineering major who accepted a co-op at Altec, located in Burnsville, North Carolina. Tosh describes the department he worked in and what his main responsibilities were.
“I worked in the manufacturing department," he said. "This job entailed hands on work with workers on the floor throughout the factory as well as work with various engineers and out side sources. One of the main functions of this job was to increase the productivity of the workers as well as make their job easier on them, making for a positive work environment.”
The most valuable benefit Tosh received during his co-op assignment was hands-on experience in the field he plans to work in.
Our student this week is Nathan Arnwine, seen at right, a mechanical engineering major who accepted a co-op at Heatcraft Worldwide Refrigeration located in Tifton, Georgia. Arnwine describes the department he worked in and what his main responsibilities were.
“I worked with the manufacturing engineering department," he said. "In this department, the engineers focus on improving the manufacturing processes within the plant in efficiency and safety. My responsibilities for this semester included validating a cost-saving project and implementing a new process for one of the highest revenue lines."
Arnwine found valuable benefits during his co-op assignment.
“Being able to work with engineers with years of experience, collaborate with different levels and roles of management, and gain new skills in software and problem solving techniques," he said.
Our student this week is Kelci Jo Bryson, a chemical engineering major who accepted a co-op at DOW Chemical at their plant location in Louisville, Kentucky. Bryson describes the department she worked in and what her main responsibilities were.
“I worked in the Plastic Additives/Dryers department," she said. "My main project was to create a deluge P&ID for one of the units, because they did not previously have one. From this I learned how to trace lines through an entire unit, and I became very familiar with P&ID's. I also created and reviewed a lot of procedures, which is the plant's method of operation. In working with these procedures, I had to communicate with a wide variety of people to discover the most efficient way to complete the task.”
Bryson received valuable benefits during her co-op assignment—learning things that are very applicable to the real working world, new skills, and how to communicate with people.
"I saw some amazing pieces of machinery that I’ve only read about in textbooks, which blew my mind every time I saw them," said Bryson. "The most important thing I learned from this experience was that this is definitely the field I want to be in. I get really excited when learning how the units operate and trying to fix things when they go wrong. I am very grateful for this opportunity because it showed me that I am on the right path to where I want to go.”
Our student this week is Kaitlyn Wilburn, a civil engineering major who accepted a co-op at Turner Construction located in Nashville, Tennessee. Wilburn describes the department she worked in and what her main responsibilities were.
“I was on site working in an existing hospital doing renovations on various spaces within the hospital," said Wilburn. "I worked with the engineering team. I was responsible for collecting closeout materials once the job was coming to a close (i.e. Warranties, Product Data, Owners Manuals, As-built drawings, etc.) so that we could turn that information over to the hospital. I was also tasked with creating submittal lists for new projects and coordinating with subcontractors to identify the scope of the project. I helped with quality control by punch listing. I spent two weeks with our Safety Manager to understand safety rules and regulations."
The most valuable benefit Wilburn received during her co-op assignment was job experience. "I could not have learned any of the information or lessons from my co-op in school," she said. "I'm really happy that I took the time to do a co-op. The benefit of knowing what comes after school is very helpful in planning for my career long term."
Our student this week is, Alyx Wszolek, pictured at right and below, a nuclear engineering major who accepted a co-op at Exelon Generation, located in Warrenville, Illinois.
Wszolek describes the department she worked in and what her main responsibilities were.
“I worked in the Reactor Engineering Group within Plant Operations Department at Three Mile Island," said Wszolek. "I worked intensively aiding in the Special Nuclear Material Inventory, including a special six-year task of viewing the ID tags way down on the fuel assemblies in the spent fuel pools. My largest project worked entirely with the SPND or incore detectors as well as it's monitoring system. I worked on extracting, organizing and trending data from old detectors. I was able to discover trends in failing detectors and create a database to document past and future SPND failures. I added a way to trend the detectors currently in the core with the intent on finding failed levels early, to a current RE procedure.”
The most valuable benefit Wszolek received during her co-op assignment was in learning all about plant systems and the jobs at a nuclear power plant.
"I was able to tour Three Mile Island Reactor 2, see a backup diesel run, got to be on spent fuel pool bridge, go inside two different cooling towers, and present in front of senior management and vice presidents," she said. "This isn't even all I got to experience, I was very lucky.”
Our student this week is Jordan Parkhurst, a chemical engineering major who accepted a co-op at MARS Petcare, located in Franklin, Tennessee. Parkhurst describes the department he worked in and what his main responsibilities were.
"I worked as a Global Applied Science Technology (GAST) intern, at the STARS facility for Mars Petcare," said Parkhurst. "My responsibilities included preparation each day for the project at hand, executing mass balance calculations, automating and implementing automation for our large design experiment, extrusion work including extrusion theory and extrusion rheology, extrusion kibble trials, as well as helping at a larger Mars plant with one of the current R&D trials."
Parkhurst found that he loved working in R&D.
"I didn't expect to like it honestly, but learning this portion of the business has been very insightful, hard work, and fun," he said. "I worked around a lot of very intelligent people, and learned a lot from them. I hope I get to return here as a permanent associate!"
The most valuable benefit Parkhurst received during his co-op assignment was the experience, as well as getting to know the people of Mars and learning their work culture.
"You can only learn so much from school, but the bulk of what it takes to be something like an engineer is learning from experience," he said. "I work alongside many folks with a lot of experience that they're happy to share with me, and that's a priceless benefit!"
Our student this week is Mitchell McKinnon, a mechanical engineering major who accepted an Internship at Eastman Chemical Company located in Kingsport, Tennessee for the summer after having completed his co-op assignments with Duke Energy.
McKinnon describes the department he worked in and what his main responsibilities were.
"I worked in a subset of the CM&S (Central Maintenance & Services)," he said. "Specifically I worked with the Reliability department with Polymer development. Most of what I worked on while at Eastman was supportive data collection. There is a shift towards making equipment more reliable and producing a PM schedule that is sensible. Much of the equipment I dealt with either had outdated information with an outdated PM schedule or no schedule at all."
McKinnon discovered valuable benefits during his internship assignment.
“One of the best things that I gained while I have been here—besides getting to work with and examine commonly used equipment (pumps, expansion joints, heat exchangers, etc…)— was learning how to read P&ID drawings," he said. "Another valuable tool was tracking down piping systems in order to find specific pieces of equipment."
Our student this week is Chelsea Thompson, at right, a civil engineering major who accepted a co-op at Duke Energy located in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Thompson describes the department she worked in and what her main responsibilities were.
"I worked in Transmission Line Engineering," she said. "This group is in charge of designing new transmission lines as well as maintaining existing lines. I did a lot of O&M projects with lines that needed to gain more clearance from the ground or another object. Also, this group works with developers who are planning to build near a line. For all of the asset protection problems, their grading plans were analyzed to make sure they were not breaking any of our specific guidelines to building near a tower or pole. My last project that I worked on all semester was to model a tower that is used to turn angles in PLS-Tower. To do this, the original drawings of the tower were used to input all of the information into the software, as well as determine the factors that would cause the tower to fail in shear. This program will be used to run reports in the future to determine if a tower can handle a certain load."
Thompson found the work experience during her co-op assignment to be a valuable benefit.
"Work experience is the most valuable thing I will take away from this co-op," she said. "I have learned what true engineering is like in the working world. I believe this is something that cannot be taught in a classroom, and I feel lucky to have been able to gain this experience before graduating college."
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