Hearing and Learning from our Summer 2022 Co-ops

Co-ops are an integral part of many academic experiences — an opportunity to learn about an industry through hands-on experience — and co-ops at Tindall are no different. Our co-op program allows college and university students to participate in real-world projects and processes beyond standardized course curriculum while simultaneously immersing them in the expansive world of precast, prestressed concrete.

The Tindall co-op program is an opportunity for our team to invest in the next generation of great minds for our industry, but the students are not the only ones who benefit from the experience. Our team loves having the opportunity to get fresh perspectives on existing challenges. As our co-op participants can tell you, it’s a win-win for everyone involved.

In the interview below, we spoke with two of our recent co-ops to hear about their experience at Tindall.

What university do you attend?

Lisa Tripathy: Georgia Institute of Technology

Kelli Carpenter: I attend Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech for short)

What’s your major & how long have you been at college?

Lisa: I am a candidate for a B.S. in Industrial Systems & Engineering. I started August 2019.

Kelli: I am a Junior (this is my 6th semester of classes) in Industrial and Systems Engineering.

When did you start with Tindall?

Lisa: I started May of 2022.

Kelli: I started at Tindall in Fall 2021.

What’s your favorite part of the co-op experience so far?

Lisa: My favorite part is doing projects that relate to my major specific courses. I am able to draw relationships between what I learn in the classroom and how it relates to working at Tindall. I have a new appreciation for what I learn in school, and am looking forward to experiencing how I can apply my skillset and knowledge at Tindall for my next rotation.

Kelli: My favorite part about Tindall is being able to explore the different areas involved in production. I find it fascinating to see how various components and people interact and work together to complete a task.

What have you learned that most interested you? That most surprised you?

Lisa: I thought how we record and analyze was important. Towards the end of my rotation, I had to work on a newer version of the QC Spreadsheet to help record the deficiencies more efficiently. While I was creating the spreadsheet, I thought it was interesting how they needed all the data to see where the inefficiencies where occurring and what types. What surprised me was how important it was to make the process easier to record the data, and the impact I made for the QC Department (the spreadsheet, or at least a version of it, would be used by the QC manager.)

Kelli: It was really interesting to see how the various products were made and look for ways to improve the processes performed. Something that really surprised me was the number of steps and processes required to complete a panel of concrete. As an outsider, it is very easy to overlook the steps required and only focus on the finished product.

What projects have you worked on so far? What did you contribute?

Lisa: I had 4 weeks of training on the floor, wrote a batch ticket program to organize data such as the date, mix design, and analyze how many cubic yards per hour is coming out of the batch plant. I also worked on the QC Spreadsheet, where I reworked how we analyze and pull data from the excel spreadsheet to help our QC manager generate reports.

Kelli: I’ve worked on plant 5s projects to organize workspaces where I was able to contribute my ideas. I’ve worked on developing a web-app to show company performance metrics. With that project I was able to contribute my coding experience and learn a lot about software development.

How is learning as a co-op different than learning at school? Do you find the different context beneficial?

Lisa: In a class, we are given a syllabus that states the material we will cover, and we receive grades for our understanding of the material through completing exams, homework, and sometimes, a project. For a co-op, we learn more through project-based learning rather, and the work we do has an impact on the company. Since I am still taking classes between rotations, I am able to draw relationships between what I learn in my classes with how I can apply it to the workplace, which I found beneficial.

Kelli: Learning as a co-op is different from learning in school in the following ways:

  • The pace of projects/assignments feels faster as a co-op than the projects I completed in school. In some ways, the stakes are higher as a co-op because others may depend on the results of your work.
  • As a co-op, the learning style is definitely more hands-on than in classes. Working on a production floor is different from reading about a production floor
  • Ideas presented in class are sometimes a simplification of real problems—the exciting part is learning how to apply your skills to solve real problems.

What advice would you give a student interested in being a co-op, either at Tindall or elsewhere?

Lisa: I would tell him/her to look for a co-op that aligns with their interests/major, and relates to what they want to do post-graduation. I would also let the individual know that besides learning/applying different skills and knowledge, I believe a co-op is also a great way to learn how to work in a workplace. As trivial as that sounds, the majority of my peers and I have done most of our learning in a classroom. Hence, a co-op is a good stepping stone between college and entering the workforce. It is a great way to also learn what kind of career path he/she finds interesting.

Kelli: Doing a co-op is definitely a great way to gain experience and learn about an industry you may find interesting.

Making connections between the classroom and the field can help cement concepts in mind. Combined with the comparatively quickened pace of learning, a Tindall co-op is an educational goldmine for the right students.

If you or a student you know is interested in working alongside our expert in-house engineers and robust research and development team at any of our six facilities in Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, or Virginia, consider a co-op with Tindall. Our co-op mentors will help curate an experience that will be meaningful, informative, and reflective of Tindall’s commitment to service, performance, innovation, and expertise.

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