Carnegie Mellon University
November 20, 2013

CEE Senior Finds Her Niche in Summer Engineering Job

CEE Senior Finds Her Niche in Summer Engineering Job
CEE senior Christina Channell (BS CEE ’14) spent her summer working in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard’s Nuclear Engineering program in western Washington State. Recently, we caught up with Christina to hear about her summer experience. 

CEE: What did you do over the summer?

Christina: I worked at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard doing design work in Solid Edge and being trained to be part of their Nuclear Engineering program, which is operated by the Department of the Navy.

CEE: How did you get involved in this job?

Christina: My dad works in management at the shipyard, and when I was helping out at a job fair that he was hosting, I met my future employer and he told me to email him If I wanted a job. I had an interview and then was offered the position in the spring of last year. 

I am part of their student program, which means that I signed a contract with them where they pay for my textbooks and a certain portion of my tuition each semester. In return, after I graduate, I will work four months for them for each semester that they funded me.

CEE: What was your favorite part of this experience?

Christina: I met a lot of new people and I learned a lot of practical engineering. I would work in the office some days, but then I could also go outside and walk around the shipyard in a hard hat and steel-toed boots.

CEE: What CEE classes or faculty helped prepare you for this job?

Christina: Solid Mechanics and Computer Applications helped prepare me. I was analyzing materials and loads and then using a 3D modeling software called Solid Edge.

CEE: What skills did you develop?

Christina: I learned a lot of practical engineering as well as materials selection. I also learned a lot about creating and reading engineering drawings. I was modeling something that they needed to build and I had to make a drawing that they could send to a contractor, so I had to learn what views were the best to use. I also learned a lot about welding and weld symbols, a bit of human factor engineering, and even how to use steel manuals and other specifications and how to reference what I used. Also, I was working with a design group that had a big project due, so that taught me a lot about meeting and missing deadlines, and how to work in that high-pressure atmosphere. 

I also learned more about communication. I had to work with many different people, so I was constantly meeting new people and asking questions. I had to learn how to relate to my coworkers and be heard, so it was just a different environment to get used to.

CEE: What was the most rewarding part of your job? 

Christina: It was rewarding that I could work in an environment where I could make mistakes and be taught something if I didn’t know it. I was responsible for the majority of a particular project, and I had to take ownership and be confident in what I was doing. They allowed me to make decisions in my work that showed they trusted me and that pushed me to be more confident in my designs. 

I don’t like to just say that I had a “really great summer experience;” it was more than that. It was life; my life after graduation will be working there. I met a lot of really awesome people who are now my friends, and the office that I worked in became my family: we went out to lunch together and made jokes, struggled to stay awake some days, and were honest when we didn’t know how to do something. It’s a place whose employees stay for 30+ years, and these people go to work because they like what they do and they like the people they work with. You have to get your hands dirty and work hard hours, but it’s worth it, and it was a lot of fun for me.