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.