Author: Daniel Landry
It’s no question that the faculty and staff members at the University of North Texas are hardworking and dedicated to their job but at times the multitude of their responsibilities can be overwhelming. Luckily for some of them, teaching assistants and interns provide valuable support in accomplishing tasks and contributing to the success of university initiatives. Starting today, UNT is celebrating National Student Employment Week and recognizing the tremendous work our student employees do.
The Facilities department employs students that become valuable teammates in areas such as project management, information system management, and maintenance. Ryan Smith is one individual in particular who has made significant contributions to the success of the project management group.
“At Discovery Park the design drawings that we had on record were not accurate, what Ryan has done over the last several months is go through all of the different designs from 1981 to 2002 when UNT purchased the building,” said mechanical engineer, Scott Harris. “The purpose is to give us a unified set of record drawings we can use for future projects. The value is that he is helping us with the design for current and future projects, it has been a tremendous thing that he has done for us!”
Ryan Smith is a UNT senior who is majoring in mechanical and energy engineering with a minor in mathematics. He has spent his life growing up in Texas, Illinois, and Oklahoma where he developed interests in playing guitar, history, science, reading philosophy and engaging in outdoor activities. This year, Ryan has had the opportunity for to work for UNT Facilities as an engineering student intern. Here he has really come into his own by perfecting his craft in engineering and really shines in his position as a student employee.
“Here in my position at UNT Facilities as an MEP Engineering Intern, I primarily assist the Mechanical, Electrical, and Energy engineers in managing projects for upgrading campus infrastructure,” he said. “I have a range of tasks which include organizing and attending meetings with contractors, reviewing project drawings, verifying existing ductwork and piping, and maintaining project budgets and schedules.”
Smith finds joy in completing his tasks and is always intrigued to start the next project. He is currently completing a project that will work in the best benefit for Discovery Park.
“Currently I am working on a project to upgrade the domestic water piping and pump skid at Discovery Park,” he said. “We will be upsizing the domestic water main from a 6-inch to a 10-inch pipe, as well as removing old boilers and installing a new pump skid in the Central Utility Plant. I have been given the opportunity to be the acting project manager for this project under the guidance of Scott Harris, our mechanical engineer at Facilities.”
Without the work that Smith is producing, Facilities would not have a good baseline to start from with design. Since Facilities has been so impressed with the work he has done, he has been given the opportunity to act as the project manager on a $400,000 project. Harris is pleased not only with his work but with the experience Smith has learned as an intern.
“One of the things that we are trying to do is give him a cross-training in what he will do in his future career,” said Harris. “We’re showing him the design side of things but we're also teaching about the implementation of that design in an actual construction project. In the end, he will receive exposure in both areas and has been a tremendous asset to our team.”
There are a lot of complexities that go into engineering. Smith’s position comes with a lot of behind the scenes work that not many people may know about. It is not enough to only have knowledge of the engineering sciences but understanding how to apply it towards a specific job.
“There are several different factors that go into planning and completing an MEP project, from selecting contractors, to attaining funding, to balancing the budget, to scheduling meetings and resolving conflicts,” said Smith. “Every project is a team effort and consists of a complex network of tasks which, when executed correctly, all contribute to the project’s ultimate completion. In this field, it is also important to be able to effectively communicate and cooperate with a wide variety of people.”
Smith said he is very grateful for the opportunity that he has been given. He has learned valuable experience from his internship that can be used inside and outside of his career and hopes to pass the knowledge on to another when the time comes.
“I have benefited from working with a talented and encouraging team of engineers who have expanded my knowledge of engineering practices such as building codes, construction materials, and more practical aspects of engineering design, “ he said. “I am very thankful for the real world and outside skills that I have learned in my position such as effective communication, schedule building, and budget management.”
Harris only seems to have one specific problem when it comes to Smith.
“I can’t figure out how to stop him from graduating so that he can stay with our team longer!”