During the Summer of 2017, I interned at Nucor Steel Connecticut, located in Wallingford, Connecticut. This was my first internship based in the United States! During this time, I gained a lot of experience in a variety of fields.
Nucor Corporation is currently the largest steel producer in the United States. Nucor Steel Connecticut, previously Connecticut Steel, was acquired by Nucor in 2006. Today, Nucor Steel Connecticut produces mainly two products: steel wire rods and welded wire mesh; a lot of its products are used for construction.
First of all, I learned about the process of making steel. Steel billets are delivered to the plant as raw material, heated up to over 2000 degrees in the reheat furnace, and passed through rolls to be reformed into various sizes. The machinery used for the process is incredibly complex. On the other hand, it was extremely fascinating to learn about the development of automation in the mill. Given that the main roll mill was built in the 1940’s, the machines are extremely old. Yet, engineers are still able to modify and work with the same equipment over 70 years later!
Secondly, I was able to gain hands-on experience with machines and tools. It was very interesting to see tools and machine tools being used in industry – outside of the machine shop! I get to drill concrete, align motors, and even learn how to weld! Additionally, I was able to watch parts being made in the roll shop, including precisely machined rolls for the roll mill stands, and replacement parts such as shafts for machines.
Thirdly, I was able to develop my design skills. I worked on a few projects that involved designing new machine components with an overall goal of improving the plant's efficiency, reliability, and maintainability. I utilized the skills I learned in my classes at CMU to make better design choices. Meanwhile, although I have no previous experience with the available software, Autodesk Inventor, I found it relatively easy to pick up because of my familiarity with Solidworks. I was also given the task of creating engineering drawings for machine replacement parts; I worked with many components, from simple shafts to complex assemblies.
Most importantly, I learned to prioritize safety. Given that the environment we work in is extremely harsh, we were required to wear PPE to work everyday. I was provided Arc Rated and Flame Retardant uniforms, a hard hat, safety goggles, steel-toe boots, and hearing protection. Every morning, we gather at 6:45 A.M. to talk about safety. It was interesting to see how Nucor Teammates plan ahead for their days with the “Safety First” mindset. For example, prior to going to work, they would have to determine which machines to lock out, or where they would tie off their harness. We must always be alert and aware of our surroundings as we work in an ever-changing environment.
I definitely had an extremely busy, fruitful, and fun time at Nucor Steel Connecticut!