Hands-on engineering experience

July 26, 2021

Mizzou Engineering students getting hands-on experience

From left to right: Mizzou Engineering students Sofonyas Woldenkidan, Claire Schlicht and Kyle Downes. Image courtesy of Claire Schlicht.

Several Mizzou Engineering students are gaining valuable workforce skills as interns with Burns & McDonnell this summer. They are contributing to the success of the company and getting an advantage in landing full-time employment once they graduate.

“My job is taking pipe designs (for oil refinery valve installations in California and Kansas) and making sure there are no major stress points,” Kyle Downes, a rising mechanical engineering senior, said. “I work with the pipe designers to develop the best way to install a pipe safely.”

Claire Schlicht, also a rising mechanical engineering senior, has been reviewing engineering deliverables and creating installation data sheets. Employees delegate work to interns so the interns can experience several mechanical engineering job duties, according to Schlicht.

“All employees are very open to questions, and I feel like I have gotten to know coworkers on a professional level and as friends,” she said.

Beyond their regular assigned engineering duties, interns participate in two training sessions per week. These sessions help them become familiar with equipment and the company’s values. Interns meet company leaders weekly, learning about the leaders’ career paths. Plus, they go on site tours and attend social events outside of work organized just for them.

Ronell Jones with Burns & McDonnell

Chemical engineering student Ronell Jones on site during his internship.

Downes and Schlicht learned about Burns & McDonnell internship opportunities through attending career fairs held by the College. Ronell Jones, a senior chemical engineering student, also learned about these opportunities through his student organization.

“The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) 2019 fall national conference is where I was first introduced to them,” he said. “I’m actually a returning intern this summer. As Mizzou NSBE president this past year, we invited Burns & McDonnell to present to the group.”

Jones has been working with other interns in addition to splitting his time this year between industrial water and municipal water assignments in the Water Global Practice division.

“I’ve been helping out other interns, putting them under my wings, and helping them enjoy the overall Burns & McDonnell experience,” he said.

Being a chemical engineering student, working on municipal water projects was something completely new for Jones. Those types of projects are more closely related to civil engineering. He is more comfortable with his industrial water assignments, however, as they have been covered in his classes.

“It’s been really interesting to see the differences between industrial and municipal projects, even though both deal with water and treatment processes of it,” he said. “I’m loving it so far.”

Schlicht at Burns & McDonnell

Mechanical engineering student Claire Schlicht.

Schlicht credits this internship in giving her support and a clearer direction for her remaining course work and career.

“It’s reminded me why I wanted to be an engineer in the first place and helped me by seeing the way school applies to work,” she said. “I also changed some of my elective classes to be better prepared when I graduate.”

All three students are from the Kansas City, Missouri, area. They are performing their hands-on engineering internships at the world headquarters of Burns & McDonnell, located in Kansas City.