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Q & A With SMBH Engineering Intern Phil Mesker

Posted on October 06, 2016

Phil Mesker is a senior civil engineering student at The Ohio State University and is working as an intern at SMBH. Read on to get to know more about Phil and his experiences!

How did you learn about this internship with SMBH?
I actually found out about SMBH from a previous internship. I had a mentor in the industry there and I had worked for them the previous summer. As I was speaking to my mentor, we spoke more about what I wanted to do and I brought up structural engineering. My mentor brought up SMBH as being the best structural engineering firm around and knew Stephen Metz and gave me his contact information. I called and had a great conversation with Stephen and sent in my resume and eventually had an interview.

When did this internship begin and end?
The internship began right after the school year ended in mid-May 2016, but I had been doing some training on the drafting software as early as January so that I could hit the ground running when the summer began. Jerry Marselle, SMBH’s Director of Technology, set me up with an online website that had some very helpful videos to teach me how to use Revit. I am still continuing this internship now.

What is your current internship position and responsibilities?
I am currently working as a BIM modeler. This means that I am given markups, either additions or edits to a project by the engineer, and I use Revit to create both the sheets for construction and a 3D virtual model. My main responsibilities are to accurately depict what the engineer wants so the sheets are easy to read, within our standards and organized.

Why did you choose to intern with SMBH?
I chose to intern with SMBH because I had heard great things about them and because I feel they have a vested interest in me. From my initial interview, I could tell the company philosophy was if you take care of the employees, the work will be done well. I saw a company that knew that the underlying numbers were not near as important as the people. It was the place of business I was looking for — somewhere that had its values in the right place.

What is a typical day at your internship like?
A typical day for me is to come in early in the morning and check my schedule to see what needs to be completed. I usually talk with the engineers to see what projects they had for me and any project deadlines. After that, I create a schedule for myself of projects I am working on and what is a priority. If I see something I don’t understand on the markups, I speak to the engineer and ask questions about how they wanted it to be shown, but also why they chose to do something. This was the first time I had seen any part of structural documents and it took me some time before it started to click and I began to see what issues the engineers were solving. The SMBH team is all very willing to drop what they were doing and teach me something. If I finish my work early, I typically ask around to see if there was anything I could either help with or get a head start on for someone.

What is the most significant learning experiences you have had while interning with SMBH?
I have had several learning experiences. One of which was a couple weeks into the summer when one of the engineers came up to me and told me that if I had any questions about anything to ask him or anyone else and they would be happy to teach me. I was a little taken back because I thought that was what I was doing, but I realized I was still being pretty timid about asking good questions and slightly concerned about not knowing something that should be general knowledge. That encouragement helped me realize I could be bolder in questioning things and be confident in asking questions.

I had the opportunity to go on field visits with several engineers to one of our parking garage projects. While there, I learned that you can actually hear a difference in the concrete where it has separated from the reinforcing bar by dragging chains over it and tapping it with a hammer.

I also had the opportunity to go to the SEAoO conference which taught me how to network and see how the industry has been evolving, which again gave me great opportunities to speak with the engineers about different components in design.

Through this internship experience, have you learned anything new about yourself?
Prior to this internship, I had never worked in an office setting (most of my work experience had been manual labor jobs) and I was concerned about how to transfer my work ethic from the field to the office. The only way, originally, that I was able to measure this was by getting work completed as fast as I could. However, this lead to me having to redo a lot of work. I learned that doing work accurately the first time was more helpful to my co-workers than doing the work quickly. I also learned a great way to contribute is by asking others if they needed help when I had some downtime.

Most important, I learned that I really enjoy providing this service. I enjoy this work and the people I work with at SMBH and am so honored to be around everyone on the SMBH team.

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Robey Hosts International Exchange Students

Posted on November 17, 2015

SMBH's Sheri Robey and her husband are hosting two international exchange students - Hayoung, from South Korea and Celia, from Spain. According to Robey, "My husband and I thought this would be an opportunity to provide a young person a once in a lifetime opportunity as well as giving us an opportunity to experience getting to know someone from a totally different culture than ours." Learn more about the international exchange program at https://www.cci-exchange.com.

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The Power of Mentoring

Posted on March 06, 2014

It’s been said by business author Mark W. Boyer, “The best help we can offer the youth of today is to prepare them for tomorrow.” Mentoring is just one of the ways to help prepare young people for their futures, and SMBH has been a longtime believer in its importance.

For years, SMBH has been involved in the Structural Engineers Association of Ohio (SEAoO), which coordinates regular opportunities for its student and professional chapters to network. Stephen Metz and Bob Baumann recently attended a meeting of the SEAoO and the Ohio State Student Chapter, informally called an “evening of mentoring.” Recent graduates presented their experiences on projects, jobs and the work atmosphere. Students had a chance to hear presenters discuss what they wished they had known before graduating – a popular topic for all in attendance.

“We stay involved with student chapters,” said Metz. “When we have opportunities like this recent meeting, we share about our firm, what we look for when we’re hiring someone out of college, and some helpful things to know that you don’t necessarily learn in college.”

SMBH’s commitment to mentoring is found inside the firm as well. A formal mentoring process at SMBH pairs all newly hired engineers with an experienced mentor in the firm. Even if an experienced engineer is hired, they’re still new to the company and benefit from the mentoring relationship as much as a recent college graduate.

“We believe in the mentoring process,” said Metz. “It’s a great way to learn. It’s good for the mentors, too. When our engineers are in a position to teach someone else, we find they develop leadership skills and learn from the process, too.

What SMBH has learned is that the mentoring relationship benefits all involved. Mentoring is a two-way learning process, and firms that are actively involved in mentoring stand apart as leaders in the industry.

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SMBH Team Member Travels to Africa for Mission Project

Posted on February 04, 2014

In early February, SMBH’s Lara Fling will travel to one of the world’s most poverty-stricken areas, using her skills to serve the community. Fling is a member of a project team for Engineering Ministries International (EMI), a non-profit Christian development organization made up of architects, engineers and design professionals who donate their talent to design buildings in areas where resources and skills are few. Fling and the team of architects, engineers and other building professionals will work with the Anglican Church of Ethiopia to design a church and dormitory in western Ethiopia. Fling’s primary role on the team will be assistant architect, but her role will also include assisting the structural engineer as needed.

According to EMI, the Anglican Church has planted 70 congregations in the region in the last 20 years, with approximately 6,000 people attending each week. These 70 groups are served by only 16 clergy who must travel weekly between congregations. Facilities are needed to provide more theological training. The church also serves many school children for after-school tutoring, and the existing facilities need to be improved to allow for more effective programs.

During the trip, the EMI team will meet with the ministry, determine their needs and perform initial design. Much of the design will be completed when the team returns. Final designs and plans will be turned over to the Anglican Church, which will then raise funds and proceed with construction. Fling, who took her first mission trip with EMI to Haiti in 2010, is excited about this new opportunity to use her skills to serve others. If you’d like to learn more about Fling’s trip, visit http://www.emiworld.org/projects/projectprofile_12030.php

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