Thomas N. Wood, II – 2019 Steel Internship Scholars
had the opportunity this summer to work with Cascade Steel Rolling Mills as a mechanical engineering intern. This was first time working in a factory as an engineer as previously I only had jobs on the floor as a worker. Before I started, I had little idea of what to actually expect from the job, but I can now say with certainty it was fascinating to see large scale materials production and how the challenges differ from those presented in classes. The experience has been both practical and enjoyable by giving me valuable understanding in how industrial metals are processed from scrap metal to finished products.
I worked primarily in the role of a process engineer at the finishing end of the rolling mill to improve the efficiency of controlling, processing and packaging of the steel products. Certain machines had been causing more downtime than should be expected, and I was tasked to find the problems, document them and propose solutions. I learned to take skills from the classroom and apply them to real world problem solving. It was refreshing to work on projects that are simultaneously new to me and of eminent benefit to the company. A lot of what I was working on would directly affect the operation of the mill.
The value of being able to work closely with experienced people cannot be overstated. Being able to draw on the knowledge of not just the engineers, but also the factory floor workers and various other personnel accelerated my learning about industry in a way that would not be possible otherwise. I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience and taste of the post-education working world. I look forward with anticipation to it when I finish school.