Nathan L. Roberts – 2021 Steel Intern Scholar
This summer I was fortunate enough to receive employment at Cleveland-Cliffs Rockport Works in the infrastructure/contract administration department as a mechanical engineering intern. I worked on projects and received guidance from industry professionals in a variety of engineering fields including mechanical, process control, electrical, civil and structural. There are countless projects I had the pleasure to work on in just a few short months. This experience gave me invaluable knowledge to take into my professional career in the steel industry that can’t be taught in a classroom environment.
During my first day on the job, I was immediately given projects to begin work on that would develop technical analysis and design skills. AutoCAD and Solid WORKS are very important tools I gained experience in through the field verification, creation, and improvement of engineering drawings. From nothing but a problem presented to me, I was able to design, model, and bring a unique tool to life that will improve safety and efficiency for replacing idler wheels on overhead cranes. The nature of the Infrastructure department elucidates that implementation and integration of projects are of upmost importance, not just the theoretical aspects.
My biggest project involved designing and presenting a safe and effective walking platform to access previously inaccessible parts of a crane in our galvanizing and annealing line 250 feet above ground level for maintenance. Overhead cranes are a massive part of operations in all areas of Rockport Works and rely heavily on mechanical knowledge to run. For this reason, many of my projects focused on improving the functionality of these essential machines. I tackled projects ranging from improving material handling near the entry beam of our Galve line to testing hardness of crane wheels to ensure maximum lifespan. I even managed my own project involving flagpole installation, including a structural analysis that utilized concepts from my statics and materials science classes.
Since Infrastructure focuses on all areas but the chemical and metallurgical processes that allow Rockport Works to run, I strived to gain dual knowledge in both the infrastructure and process areas. My collaboration with a process control engineer in our annealing and pickling line (APL) led to the basis of a predictive maintenance system to reduce downtime and cost in the process control system of the APL. I gained hands on experience deconstructing and analyzing air-operated double diaphragm (AODD) pumps in order to optimize their lifespan and usage within the process control system.
Cleveland-Cliffs is a company that truly cares about the safety and well-being of their employees that has expanded my horizons and instilled life lessons in me beyond the workforce. I am very grateful to both Cleveland-Cliffs and the AIST for helping me achieve this opportunity. My supervisors and coworkers were fantastic in regards to creating an environment where interns can flourish and make a significant difference in the workforce. While this is only my second internship within the steel and special metals industry, it has reinforced my desire to continue within the industry upon graduating college.