Brady M. Palmer – 2020 Steel Intern Scholar
This summer, I have had the opportunity to continue my work as a mechanical engineering co-op at Nucor Steel Tuscaloosa Inc. As this was my second co-op semester, I have been exposed to many different things within the rolling mill. I have learned so many things since beginning my co-op, and I can confidently say that obtaining work experience has been one of the best decisions I have made regarding my education. Classroom work is important and should not be overlooked but seeing these things in action provides something that a classroom simply cannot do.
I have been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to get a taste for the steel industry at a fantastic facility. This summer, I was tasked with managing my first project, where I lead the assembly, installation and commissioning of a machine that will play an important role in ensuring safe and efficient maintenance of the work rolls used in the mill. Due to everything happening in the world right now, especially with COVID-19, we attempted to cut costs by performing all work in-house. Because of this, I had the opportunity to get my hands dirty, work alongside a fantastic team and even to take on many of the tasks by myself. To say that I have learned a lot this semester would be a tremendous understatement. This opportunity has forced me to expand my knowledge and I have learned about hydraulic systems, equipment installation, troubleshooting, project planning, welding, cutting, arc gouging, overhead cranes and leadership skills. The project is almost complete, as we only have a few things left to do before the equipment will be put into service, and I owe all the credit to the teamwork displayed by the teammates of Nucor Steel Tuscaloosa. It has truly been an incredible opportunity to work somewhere that seeks out people who are coachable, and then instills traits and qualities in them such as safe work practices, teamwork, integrity, work ethic and taking pride in what they do.
Whether we are aware of it or not, steel plays a pivotal role in the everyday lives of everyone. It might be the bridge you drive over while traveling to and from work, the building that houses your work office, the vehicle you drive, the water or gas that feeds into your home or office, or any products you use in your daily life — steel is involved somewhere in the mix.
To anyone who is interested in the steel industry — especially STEM students — I encourage you to put yourself out there and get involved. I would even take it a step further and tell you to reach out to Nucor Steel Tuscaloosa. This facility is full of fantastic people, from different backgrounds and disciplines, and the experience you will get will be unlike anything you’ve ever done before. You will have the opportunity to perform important, meaningful work, rather than something like making copies and fixing coffee. Most importantly, you will be working for a company that views safety as a value, not a priority, because priorities change.