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Spencer Miller

Spencer MillerThe featured student this week is Spencer Miller, an electrical engineering major from Kingsport, Tennessee, who worked as a co-op student at Eastman Chemical Company in Kingsport.

Miller worked specifically in the Control Systems Support Department in the PLC/ Hardware Group. The main focus was supporting the hardware and software on the control systems and supporting the programmable logic controllers at Eastman.

His main responsibilities included installing a cooling system on an electrical cabinet, collecting PLC software inventory for the entire plant site, uploading and categorizing a large amount of PLC manuals to the company website, creating and wiring a relay simulation, adding electronic badge access to two of our group’s buildings, and changing the wiring for the outside lights in the building.

Miller was also given the opportunity to shadow fellow employees, giving him an opportunity to learn from them and grow from their experiences. A big challenge he faced during his assignment was little knowledge of technical electric. This limited the complexity of the assignments he was able to do but by shadowing other employees, it was possible to gain the basics of industrial electrical skills and knowledge.

Joseph Schindler

Joseph SchindlerJoseph Schindler, a mechanical engineering major, from Del Rio, Tennessee, worked as a co-op student at Altec Industries in Burnsville, North Carolina. He worked specifically in the quality department. His day-to-day responsibilities were to perform inspections of parts when they were received and performed audits of associate’s gauges to ensure they are working correctly.

Schindler’s favorite project was to create a new system for testing one particular product that came in and is now creating a new standard because of it. He also helped to update standard operating procedures. He was given the opportunity to learn more about CAD (Solidworks) and welding projects with a blow torch and plasma torch.

Schindler’s monthly responsibility was to give a monthly report about gauges during the quality meeting in front of all the managers, many of the supervisors and some engineers. This was a difficulty to him as he does not like to speak publically in front of large groups, but this gave him the opportunity to come out of his comfort zone and to learn how to be prepared efficiently for larger meetings. The most valuable part he took away from his rotation was the actual opportunity to work in the field before he graduates to get a feel on how the workforce works.

Jonathan Farmer

Jonathan FarmerThe 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.

Jillian Schwendeman

Jillian SchwendemanThe 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.

Isaiah Cash

Isaiah CashThe 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.

Cassandra Finney

Cassandra FinneyThe 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.

Christopher Scott

Christopher ScottThe 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.

Brooklyn Browner

TBrooklyn Brownerhe 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.

Benjamin Hopkins

Benjamin HopkinsThe 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.

Christopher Dias

Christopher DiasThis 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.

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