FINLEY Internship Spotlight

With our FINLEY Internship Spotlight, we give you an inside look at exactly what FINLEY’s summer interns experience on a day-to-day basis as well as their perspective on the internship program as a whole. This summer, FINLEY has had the pleasure of welcoming two young and very talented engineers, Isabel McLeod and Zachary White to its internship program.

Isabel McLeod will graduate with her master’s degree in civil engineering from Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) in the Spring of 2020. She is the Vice President of Design on CWRU’s Steel Bridge Project Team.

Zachary White graduated from the University of Florida (UF) this past spring with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, and will begin his master’s degree from UF in the fall. Zachary is an active member of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Last week, we asked them a few questions on how the internship was progressing. You can read some of their insight below.

What’s been the most valuable thing you’ve learned from the FINLEY internship?

Isabel: The most valuable skill I’ve learned is the ability to start with a few parameters or very basic plans for a bridge, and then visualize the structure as a complex 3D model.

Zachary: The most valuable thing that I have learned so far is that an engineer, experienced or young, should always trust their judgement and that the knowledge gained in both the classroom and practice will create a thought process that will yield effective results. If your judgement is telling you to rerun calculations because the values seem a tad off, rerun them. If you feel that you should receive a second opinion, ask.

How has this internship helped prepare you for a career in civil engineering? Has this internship increased your appreciation for the bridge segment of civil engineering? If so, how?

Isabel: This internship has definitely increased my appreciation for the bridge segment of Civil Engineering. It is impressive to see the behind the scenes work that goes into a large bridge project, and it has been encouraging to see how FINLEY works to improve and streamline their design process every day.

Zachary: This internship has been extremely helpful in preparation for my career. The fact that everyone at FINLEY has treated me as a full-time employee rather than an intern has a lot to do with it. On the first day of work here, I had a project on my desk that really required a lot of thought and technical skill to complete. I was given a general run-down of the project, and was shown all of the available resources, and then I was “off to the races”. This internship has greatly increased my appreciation for bridge design. Because of coursework in bridge design, I had a general knowledge of the design process, but working at FINLEY has shown me the intricacies of the design process and being able to design every single day has made me realize that the bridge industry is where I belong.

Is there anything that you feel makes an internship with FINLEY Engineering Group unique in comparison to any previous internships? If so, what is it that is different?

Isabel: FINLEY definitely works on much bigger and more complicated bridge projects than I have worked on in previous internships, but the largest difference is in the methodology of the design process with FINLEY’s BrIM workflow. FINLEY also has a very tight-knit group of engineers who I have enjoyed getting to know and learn from.

Zachary: I feel that the internship with FINLEY has been very different than my previous internships. The overall vibe at FINLEY is incredible, and I genuinely love coming to work every day to learn more about bridge design and get my pencil on paper to provide a quality project to a client. We have a lot of fun, but we all take pride in our work, and that is apparent in the quality of work all of the engineers are producing.

At FINLEY Engineering Group we greatly value our company culture. In what ways have you experienced this firsthand?

Isabel: I have felt extremely welcomed at FINLEY since the day I got here. I have appreciated the senior engineers including Zach and I in whatever they are doing, whether that’s going to lunch or hanging out after work. I also had a blast playing office mini-golf!

Zachary: The company culture at FINLEY is honestly a cut above any other firm I have been a part of. Everyone here is pushed as engineers, and work hard to provide quality work that really is not mirrored anywhere else, but we also have a ton of fun in the office. Whether it be team bonding events such as office mini-golf, getting together after work for dinner, having dogs in the office, or even eating lunch as a group, this group of engineers is very close-knit, and I can honestly say that I’ve gained colleagues, mentors, and friends. The best way to put it, is that at FINLEY we play hard, and work even harder.

How has what you’ve seen and worked on since being at FINLEY influenced your previous understanding of the bridge design process?

Isabel: Working on projects at FINLEY has allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the bridge design process than I have in previous internships. FINLEY threw us into real projects starting on the first day, and I have learned a lot from just being given time to struggle through calculations and detailing in order to figure out how the design process works firsthand.

Zachary: In only a month, I have worked on approximately five different projects. This has allowed me to see many different design scenarios and has given me many different tasks to complete. This has influenced my previous understanding of the bridge design process by showing me that there is much more that goes into bridge design than I previously thought. I knew it was an extensive field, but some of the things I have been working on, I never expected to do this summer. I never expected to be doing construction design work during my bridge engineering internship. It has allowed me to think outside of the box and has given me a different perspective in the direct process of bridge design. I now see construction constraints that I never would have seen before, and this will allow me to become more effective and efficient with bridge design in the future.

What are your impressions on FINLEY’s Bridge Integration Modeling (BrIM) process?

Isabel: FINLEY’s BrIM process is very effective in producing bridge designs very quickly. It also makes it much easier to see the big picture of a project since all of the design and modelling is intertwined. I have enjoyed learning and using Inventor in the projects I have worked on at FINLEY so far in my internship.

Zachary: My first impression of the BrIM process was that it seemed very daunting. But after diving into it, I see that it actually simplifies the design process. My first impression was walking to my desk the first day; I saw the modelling of all the rebar in a bridge and went cross-eyed. But after a month of practice with BrIM technology, I would never want to go back to the former modelling technologies that I have used. It simplifies the process and maintains consistent shop drawings that take very little time to produce or update.

Do you feel that your college curriculum adequately prepared you for this internship? If not, what areas did you feel you needed more education in?

Isabel: I feel that my college curriculum gave me a strong foundation in structural mechanics and analysis that has prepared me for this internship. I also feel that I have learned the basic CAD skills needed to pick up new software skills at FINLEY fairly quickly. However, I wish that I would have had the opportunity to take a bridge class so that I would have come in with a greater familiarity of the AASHTO code and the terminology associated with bridge design.

Zachary: I feel that the curriculum at the University of Florida has prepared me to an extent for this internship. There aren’t enough courses in the world to cover all the complex bridge design that FINLEY does. In addition, being out in the field is very different from the classroom. Yes, all the theory that I was taught in structural engineering is being applied, but there is just something about being in the office that is different. Mostly everything in school is idealized, whereas this is not the case in the real world. This provides a lot of constraints that are not taught in school. To sum it up, I feel that the University of Florida taught me everything that it could regarding theory, but there is no better teacher than experience. Some things can’t be taught, they must be experienced.

Every summer, FINLEY posts internship opportunities on its website, Handshake, Facebook and LinkedIn pages as well as many University Career Center websites.

Contact: Carmine Borea, Principal – Business Development
(850) 894-1600

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