Skip to content
Wright Smith

Wright Smith

  • Major: Mechanical Engineering
  • Company: Shaw Industries; Polyone
  • Graduation Year: 2018
  • E-mail:

Ambassador Profile

From: Chattanooga, TN                

I have actually co-oped for two different companies. The first company I worked for is Shaw Industries. Their primary product is carpet and other types of industrial and resetting flooring. For Shaw I worked in two separate cities in Georgia: Ringgold and Chickamagua. I completed one rotation in each location, with my primary project being devoted to helping improve the overall work environment. Specifically, I worked on CAD drawings and communicated with workers on the floor at the beginning of my work term in Ringgold and implemented safety gates to help minimize any chance of a pedestrian/fork truck related injury. In Chickamauga, my main project was to design a system with which operators could easily remove very heavy (up to 1200lbs in some cases) rolls of carpet backing from a sewing machine. At both facilities, I worked for and reported to the plant engineer, who was charged with heading the maintenance department. The second company I worked for was PolyOne. I spent a total of 3 semesters at their Clinton, TN plant. PolyOne specializes in plastics manufacturing, and the plant where I worked took raw plastic, blended it with additives, then extruded it and sold the newly made pellets to a variety of customers for use in finished goods. While I was working for PolyOne, they introduced a new production line and I was able to assist with every aspect of the project from initial design all the way through to final installation. I worked closely with the senior process engineer, reliability manager, and site services manager on the majority of my projects.                 

I elected to co-op because I wanted to dive deeper with the company I went to work for. For me, the co-op experience has helped me to better understand what engineers in the field are really tasked with accomplishing. My personal biggest achievement was contacting a customer, while at PolyOne, that we received an unsatisfactory part from. Throughout the course of the conversation I was able to clearly and calmly communicate where the issues were, and we were able to effectively find a workable solution. For me, resolving conflict has been always been a challenge for me and this proved that I can do it and do it well.      

Professionally co-oping has shown me that communication with my co-workers is an absolute necessity, and that I should strive to get to know them as soon as I reasonably can. Academically participating in the o-op program has given me time away from school to focus on what life could be like after school, and this  future look  has been excellent motivation for my studies.    

The idea of  being delayed  because of co-op is a myth. I have friends who have graduated without work experience and they are still looking for jobs. Having true engineering work experience is an excellent way to set yourself apart from the crowd. The only other comment I would add is that you have nothing to be afraid of when going to talk to companies. You don't know if you want to work for any particular company until you start getting to know how they operate!                 

Beyond school and work, I enjoy hunting, fishing, shooting, video games, and occasionally painting.

Wright Smith

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.