Carnegie Mellon University
October 30, 2013

CEE Junior Spends Summer in Louisiana Working in Oil & Gas Industry

CEE Junior Spends Summer in Louisiana Working in Oil & Gas Industry
CEE junior Millard McElwee (BS CEE ’15) spent his summer working in Louisiana for Delmar Systems, a CMU alumnus-owned offshore mooring company. Recently, we caught up with Millard to hear about his summer experience. 

CEE: What did you do over the summer?

Millard: This summer I worked in Louisiana and offshore for Delmar Systems, an offshore mooring company whose president and founder, Sherman Scott, is a CMU alumnus (E ’66). My work in their yard involved performing daily safety assessments to provide goals aimed at accident prevention and routine wire and rope inspections to ensure on site structural integrity. I went offshore twice, the first time for one week and the second for four weeks. During my time offshore, I worked twelve-hour days doing a variety of tasks. I got to perform calculations for the catenary in mooring lines as well as buoyancy calculations to determine the buoy size needed to lower equipment to the ocean floor with a robot. I also worked with the riggers on the back of the boat to truly understand the mooring process.    

CEE: How did you find out about this job?

Millard: I was sitting at a President’s advisory council meeting and then-President Jared Cohon (now CEE Adjunct) asked what I was doing this summer. I mentioned that my internship with another company had fallen through, and he offered to connect me with a company of interest in Louisiana, my home state.  After Dr. Cohon introduced me to the president of the company via email, I was offered a position within a week. 

CEE: What would you say was your favorite part of this experience?

Millard: I loved working with people who were very passionate about what they were doing.  All of the positive energy rubbed off on me. 

CEE: How has this experience influenced your career goals?

Millard: Coming to Carnegie Mellon University, I was very focused on construction management in heavy civil engineering; however, after this summer, I am now highly considering working in the oil and gas industry.  

CEE: Were there particular CEE classes that helped prepare you for this job?

Millard: Fluid Mechanics, taught by Assistant Professor Kelvin Gregory, definitely prepared me for doing the buoyancy calculations. I wasn’t sure that I would see that material again, but fortunately I was wrong. Solid Mechanics and the Solid Mechanics lab allowed me to understand many of the design concepts when I visited the company’s Houston office.    

CEE: What skills did you pick up or develop in this experience?

Millard: I definitely learned what I was capable of handling by being pushed out of my comfort zone.  Working twelve-hour days tests you mentally and physically, and I am now confident that I can handle any task given to me. 

CEE: What was the most surprising or interesting part of your job? 

Millard: Living on a boat for four weeks was definitely one of the most interesting aspects of the job. I saw some pretty awesome creatures, and also saw how people’s attitudes can be affected by long periods within a confined space.  Another interesting part was the weeks of training I had to receive before I went offshore.  One of my classes was Helicopter Underwater Egress Training, which involved getting out of a helicopter simulator submerged underwater and then flipped upside down.

This was definitely the best work experience I have ever had, and it would not have been possible without the connection President Cohon made and the knowledge I gained from the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department. As a result of my work with the company this summer, I was offered an internship for next summer and a full time job upon graduation.