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BAE Profiles Two CBE Undergrads

Taylor Alderson and Jake Jensen.

Taylor Alderson, left, and Jake Jensen

Reprinted with permission from BAE Systems.

CBE undergrads Taylor Alderson and Jake Jensen are completing co-ops at BAE Systems’ Holston Army Ammunition Plant in Kingsport, Tennessee. BAE Systems profiled both students on its website.

Taylor Alderson

As a native of Kingsport, Tenn., Taylor Alderson grew up with the Holston Army Ammunition Plant. She’s only heard positive things from family friends and college peers about working at Holston and the plant’s impact on the surrounding community in Kingsport. So Taylor jumped at the opportunity to return home for her co-op experience, which offered her the chance to be around family and gain valuable engineering experience. We sat down with Taylor to learn more about what makes her co-op experience at Holston so special.

Q. Can you share more about your role, and your day-to-day responsibilities?

A. Depending on the day, I’ll go out in the plant and watch what’s going on, or someone will tour me around, so I understand the processes and what’s going on in different areas. Sometimes I’ll go in the control room and watch the processes on screens. The operators are all great. They are always available to answer my questions.

Even as an intern, I know I’m making a contribution at Holston, and I appreciate that responsibility. I’m grateful they keep me so involved. I’m often invited to different walk downs or meetings, even if I’m not technically involved in the project, giving me the opportunity to continue to learn all aspects of the plant.

Q. What gets you excited to go into work every day?

A. The people at Holston are great, and genuinely care about my education. I’m enjoying learning different processes and about the projects I’m working on. I love being able to see the connections between what I’ve learned in school to what I am doing on-site here at Holston.

It’s a great co-op, and I’m grateful I took it. I love my experience so far. Everyone is super nice; my mentor and manager are both great and supportive and have given me a lot of projects and room to learn. I like to conduct a lot of research and have plenty of time and opportunity to dive into research while completing my tasks for projects I’m working on.

Q. When you think about the future, what are your short- and long-term goals?

A. I really like leadership positions. At school, I’m on a lot of different committees. I love being able to mentor and lead, and I would like to focus on that in the future.
At Holston, I also like how each engineer in my group has a specialty. My goal is to become a specialist in an area, but also learn other areas too.

Q. What’s something fun you like to do in your spare time?

A. I love crafts. Right now, I’m passionate about knitting and making jewelry. I also have three cats at home. I made my office all cat-themed at work. I have cats everywhere and have outlined my desk and shelves in cat washi tape.

Q. Can you describe your co-op experience in one word?

A. Exciting.

Jake Jensen

Jake Jenson often finds himself in awe of the sheer scale of the Holston Army Ammunition Plant. As a chemical engineering major and intern at Holston, Jake prizes the invaluable real-world experience of internships, something he was seeking when applying for college. Whether he’s completing his projects onsite or receiving guidance from mentors, Jake takes in as much as he can learn every day. Read more about Jake, his co-op experience and discovering the beauty of East Tennessee.

Q. Can you share more about your role and day-to-day responsibilities?

A. Right now, my main project is setting up meters for water, air and electricity across the site measuring how much each building is using and coordinating with contractors to install the meters. I’ve only worked on one or two projects so far and I’ve been amazed at the scale of everything here and just how large everything is.

With engineering, it’s difficult to get into the industry without quality work experience. I applied to a bunch of universities, and University of Tennessee really put an emphasis on the importance of co-ops and giving students the opportunity to gain real world experience. The co-op experience is immeasurable – you can’t put a price tag on work experience.

Q. What gets you excited to go into work every day?

A. I love that I get to see the impact of what I’m doing. I had a huge list of things to do, and I’ve gotten chunks out of the way, we have contractors lined up, and we are getting closer to being sure we can complete our current project on time. I’m grateful for my mentors and the guidance and education they provide.

No day is the same at Holston, there is always something different that I get to learn. For one, I get to see things on the job and it’s not things I have access to in school. I’ve learned a lot about different pipe systems, and how you monitor different things you use down the line. Once I go back to school, I feel confident knowing I’ve gained useful knowledge. I also already have insight into things I haven’t been exposed to yet and I’m getting a head start. No amount of textbook experience can compare to a year in the field.

Q. When you think about the future, what are your short- and long-term goals?

A. I want to learn as much as I can while I’m here, finish my degree and go into a similar industry. I definitely want to learn about the industry and how chemical engineering fits into different aspects, and this co-op was ideal.

Q. What do you like to do in your spare time?

A. I enjoy camping in East Tennessee. I love Kingsport and exploring the area. I’ve heard they have a hard time getting people coming to Kingsport, but once they get here, it’s hard to leave. I can see that being the case for me!

Q. Describe your internship in one word.

A. Invaluable.

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