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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.

Austin Gomez

Austin GomezThis 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.

Neil Scruggs

Neil ScruggsOur 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.”

Tiffany Onwu

Tiffany OnwuThis 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.

Jillian Schwendeman

Jillian SchwendemanThis 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.

Hala Sura

Hala SuraThis 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

Ryan MohrRyan 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.

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