Students & Faculty

Ife Siffre – 2019 Steel Internship Scholar

Working as a metallurgical co-op at Nucor Steel Tuscaloosa has been one of the most valuable experiences in my academic career. While having had familiarity with industrial settings through previous internships, the dynamics of this plant provided many opportunities to expand my general knowledge, growth in metallurgy and interest in the job. There was always something new to do or learn. Some days, it may have been helping teammates assess different developments related to production and other days I’d be learning to operate various pieces of machinery to assist in my tasks.

The ability to work under metallurgists with several years of experience at Nucor provided many opportunities for me to gain practical and conceptual knowledge from them. Whether it was providing insight and clarification on possible occurrences in the melting process after obtaining inclusion data, or creating inquiries via structured query language (SQL), they were willing to teach me. Each metallurgist had their specialties and the work was interesting, so there were plenty of resources available to help improve my skills.

Above all, I immediately learned that among Nucor’s core values is promoting the safety of its teammates from entering the plant grounds throughout the production process. Safety is paramount. Each day is counted where no injuries occur and weekly safety meetings are held to review and reflect on improving safety. Safety is always first and production comes after.   “Asking me to overlook a simple safety violation would be asking me to compromise my entire attitude toward the value of your life” is posted on a supervisor’s door, emphasizing this critical aspect of our work. Safety isn’t a priority; it’s a value.

Working for the steel industry was very eye-opening. You meet all sorts of people, each with different personalities and motivations for why they come to work. One common goal that we all shared is that each of us worked to improve our personal situations and that required teamwork. It created bonding that required teammates to work together, improve the team and accomplish the goals of the company. Many of the older teammates developed relationships that went beyond the daily grind of employment, showing genuine concern for each other’s wellbeing.

Ultimately, the industry rewards those who are willing and able to produce. If you’re interested in the steel industry, your efforts will reap the benefits. Your experience is what you make of it and mine was fun and challenging.