“I got the chance to join this little community, if only for a few months, and what I experienced was amazing”: Q&A with Brandon Carson, ATI’s Summer Intern

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ATI’s Engineering Department had an extra pair of hands around the office for the last couple of months, in the form of our 2 time Summer Intern, Brandon.

But just like that school is back in session. Which means today marks the final day for Brandon and all of his hard work.

Brandon (who can now be considered a veteran around the ATI office) will be heading back to San Luis Obispo to start his Senior year, where he will be studying Architectural Engineering.

Before we bid him farewell and wished him good luck with his studies, we got a moment to catch up with him for a little Q&A, where Brandon shared all about his Summer Internship experience at ATI.

What did you expect from your internship with ATI? Did your expectations meet reality?

 Before my first summer at ATI, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. Maybe I would be getting coffee and scanning documents all summer? I didn’t know much about what structural engineering was like in the real world at the time, so I wasn’t expecting to be able to help as much as I would have liked. By the end of the summer, my expectations were blown away.  ATI involved me in many different projects and brought me on various site visits. Bob, Gon, and James took the time to teach me about things that I hadn’t learned about yet in class, and were always patient with me when I didn’t understand things right away. Their willingness to help really stood out to me and made me want to come back.

I expected this summer to be pretty similar to the last. It was way better. I learned a lot at school last year, which allowed me to contribute much more. As a result, I was more involved this summer and felt more helpful. There were still a bunch of things that I didn’t know, but again the structural department took the time to help me out.

 Thinking back to your first few days, what work did you get a chance to do?

 I was thrown right into the mix during my first few days this summer. After the typical Monday morning engineering meeting, Gon introduced me to a project she was working on for Sandia National Lab. She had me modeling a canopy in RISA and working out the anchorage for some equipment around the project. Joe and Myron also invited me to join them in their biweekly “Very important safety and business development” meetings, during which we play cards and board games (in a very safe manner). The days flew by, and before I knew it, my first week was over.

What did you enjoy most during your time at ATI?

 It’s really difficult to narrow it down to one thing, so I’ll list a couple:

 -Experiencing ATI’s own little community. As an A/E firm, ATI employs both architects and engineers, as well as project administrators, a marketing team, an accounting team, and a finance team (did I miss any?). As a result, ATI’s culture is very diverse. Yet at the same time, everyone is very close in the office, and everyone is working towards the same goal, just in different ways.  I got the chance to join this little community, if only for a few months, and what I experienced was amazing. From small talk in the kitchen to Joe Nunneley having his twin boys (congrats!), meeting the various people at ATI has been wonderful, and I’m thankful to have been able to join.

-The Monday morning meetings. This one might be a little bit of a shocker, because it’s actually work related, but it honestly was one of my favorite parts of the week. Every Monday, the electrical, mechanical, and structural engineers round up with Paul and Dan to discuss deadlines, who’s working on what, and our goals. The reason I enjoyed these meetings so much was because it exposed me to the different types of engineers. I got to learn about other disciplines and hear what kinds of work they did, their challenges, and what was important to them. Not many companies offer the variety of services that ATI does, which I think makes them pretty special.

-$0.25 sodas. How great is that? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

If you could make structural steel take any shape, what would you have it do?

 Giant dolphin-shaped buildings. They’re my favorite animal.

What is the most important skill that you have learned during your internship?

 I didn’t necessarily learn this skill at ATI, but my internship has definitely improved my ability to read drawings. This might sound pretty simple, but it is very important and school doesn’t give you the practice you need to be good at it. Organizing a calc package is also something that the internship has taught me. Again, it sounds simple, but it’s important and school doesn’t prepare you well enough.

 What are you up to next?

 Not 100% sure yet! After I graduate, I’ll either continue on the grad school or work.

 Do you have any advice for future interns?

Listen to your co-workers. And I’m not just talking about your boss. They all have infinite more knowledge than you, and might even share some of it with you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It’s the fastest way you learn.

 

A big thank you to Brandon for your invaluable contributions to ATI this summer! We definitely appreciate all of your hard work. We hope to see you back around the ATI office in the future!

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