Students & Faculty

Susan D. Funk – 2022 Steel Intern Scholar

I had the pleasure of interning with the safety team at Commercial Metals Company’s South Carolina facility. Like every new hire at CMC, I went to a week of onboarding. During orientation, everyone was trained on CMC’s history, leadership and, most importantly, mill safety. My internship was broken down into several phases: onboarding, shadowing, project and general safety program daily management.
I began by shadowing the safety coordinator in the rolling mill and shipping department, followed by the melt shop, and lastly, the maintenance department. During this phase, I saw what safety technicians did daily and I attended shift meetings and safety talks. I also conducted safety walkthroughs and reviewed safety incidents. After getting my bearings on the site and completing the shadow phase, I started my project. My project was to conduct a noise survey for the mill.
This project gave me a unique insight into all the essential roles and daily tasks at a steel mill. First, I began monitoring the melt shop, where I quickly learned that advanced systems and administrative controls protect employees from continuous exposure. While conducting testing here, I could participate in some of the tasks completed each day and I grew as a safety professional. Safety leaders must understand what their employees are doing daily so that they better engineer safety practices and systems.
I then spent time monitoring the rolling mill. I again was able to monitor and learn each role in this part of the mill. I was able to watch as employees cleared cobbles and restored systems with efficiency. After completing surveys in all the departments on site, I compiled my data and presented it to staff.
This internship allowed me to grow as a safety professional in an environment where safety professionals are vital. Before applying to this program, a coworker had asked me if I was sure I wanted to work in steel production as it is difficult and dangerous. I replied that we want safety professionals where they are needed. I quickly learned in Cayce that steelmaking has its risks, much like every other manufacturing sector, but steelmaking is not done the old ways many imagine it from black and white pictures.
The industry is a technological marvel. Engineers and safety professionals have taken a dangerous process and removed massive amounts of risk. I am thankful to the AIST Foundation for this opportunity and encourage anyone interested in safety or engineering to apply for this scholarship. This internship showed me what is possible as a safety professional and it allowed me to see a modern process that is vastly misunderstood. Furthermore, this internship allowed me to work with the backbone of America: steelworkers.