Name: Andrew Gilmour
Type of Project: Internship
In the Fall of 2018, I completed my Step Signature Project through an internship with Speedway LLC. I lived off campus in Columbus and commuted to Enon, Ohio every day. During my time at Speedway, I worked in their civil engineering department along with their construction, mechanical and design departments. In order to gain more knowledge and experience, I worked alongside an experienced engineer who served as my mentor. He helped me develop important skills to become a better engineer.
Prior to my internship with Speedway LLC., I believed the best method to solving a problem or completing a project was by figuring it out on my own. I was too stubborn and independent to want to ask for help. I would often just sit at my desk trying to figure things out instead of just asking one of my co-workers for assistance. It took a short amount of time to realize that to be successful in the engineering field, you must do the opposite. Willingness to ask for help, communicating, and working as a team can be the difference between a good engineer and a great one.
Although I did want to figure things out on my own, I found myself spending too much time on tasks that could have been made simple by asking a question. This was a hard habit for me to break, but as I became closer with my co-workers, I felt more comfortable asking for help. This internship taught me how crucial team work is in the workplace, it took multiple peoples help to get projects finished in the time frames that were given to us. In order to stay on top of what needed done we had to efficiently communicate with one another. Without the cooperation between departments and engineers, it would take an absurd amount of time to accomplish the things we did.
The first week I was at my internship with Speedway LLC., I struggled a lot. I sat next to other interns and my mentors’ desk was far away from mine. Their processes and corporate culture were different to me. My mentor, Adam, spent some time showing me some of my daily tasks and what he wanted me to do. There was much information to take in, and I felt overwhelmed. When he would ask me to do one of these tasks, I would panic due to the fear of failure. In the midst of my panic I would get confused and not remember what I was supposed to do. After wasting much time trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing, I would send Adam something and it would be far from what he wanted. He called me over and would go over the process again and show me what he wanted. He told me not to be afraid to ask questions and that even if he just showed me something, he would be willing to go over it again. The pressure of doing everything perfect on my first try had been taken off me and I began to feel more comfortable there. Adam would have a lot of work for me every day and I soon became familiar with what he needed from me and we constantly communicated all day. I started to feel confident in my work and could see that I was becoming a contributor to the teamwork. My mentor, Adam, told me constantly that he valued my help.
After a few weeks with Speedway, I began getting to know the other interns well. They worked for a different engineering team, but we had quite a few similar tasks. Another intern from Ohio State named Tanner, was in the Civil Engineering department. Tanner and I would often be given projects to work on together from our supervisor. Sometimes these would be very large projects and with only a few days to complete it. I learned to trust in Tanner and understand that working as a team was the only way for us to accomplish our tasks. I was glad that Speedway put me in a program where I was able to utilize coworkers and develop my team working skills. Tanner and I even became good friends and hang out and study together back at school.
Over the course of my internship, I was given the opportunity to go to Chicago with my supervisor and another coworker. We were going to visit consultants and look at Speedway sites that were in construction. It helped me gain a new perspective on how engineers work together. I was unaware of the amount of working parts that went into the development of a Speedway. Our engineers have so many projects all over the country that they would send design work out to consultants and our engineers would have to take that and work with the construction department in implementing the designs. Understanding how all these pieces work together took time, but after experiencing it, I have a great appreciation for the teamwork and work ethic of my coworkers. I am grateful to have gotten to experience this large-scale teamwork first hand and develop a respect and appreciation for it.
Learning to work with others and understanding the importance of communication is crucial to engineering. The skills I learned during my internship will not only help me in my academics, but also in the real world when I begin working a full-time job. I am glad that I got to experience how engineers work together and be a part of those processes. My time at Speedway molded me into a practical engineer and gave me the skills and tools to fully develop myself and become the best engineer possible. I enjoyed my time so much at Speedway that I could see myself returning there and working full-time or work in a similar environment. STEP funding is the reason that I was able to take this internship and is why I learned the importance of teamwork and communication. This has been an enormous step in my transformation into a professional engineer.