By Kara Horner, Student Ambassador and Summer Intern
Summer is an exciting time in the Global Engineering group – projects are kicked-off, contractors arrive on site, and work begins to complete all construction by harvest. After only a week of orientation, training, and adjusting to office life in St. Louis, MO, I traded my business casual attire for a hard hat, steel toe boots, and high visibility t-shirts.
I was eager to return to the field and visit several of our corn and soybean production facilities to see the many projects being implemented this year. Already this summer I have had the opportunity to travel to seven different sites located throughout Iowa, Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana.
Each facility focuses on maximizing their efficiency while operating in the safest way. Site personnel and engineers are constantly collaborating to brainstorm new ideas that incorporate the latest technology, equipment, and best practices into the production plants.
Last fall during my co-op, several engineers and I performed testing on a new piece of equipment called a scalper. This summer I will have the opportunity to help support the installation of the scalpers. The purpose of this equipment is to eliminate the debris and seed treatment pieces that can, on occasion, find their way into the final product. Seed treatment is applied to the seed before it is packaged to help control insects, disease, and other pest problems, both in storage, and after the seed is planted. Preventing debris and seed treatment pieces from entering packaging materials means a higher quality final product and greater customer satisfaction.
The basic design of the scalper utilizes a small vibrating screen to separate the seed from debris or treatment particles, with holes in the screen sized to allow the seed to pass through while the larger particles are carried over the screen. In my travel to the other sites, I have been able to gather measurements and assist designers in preparing updated mechanical arrangements and equipment layout drawings. As installation on these scalpers begins over the next few weeks, I will be working with electrical and mechanical contractors to ensure that the scalpers are installed safely and are fully operational for each site in time for harvest.
My favorite aspect of this internship is the opportunity to travel to sites and work with contractors, engineers, and site personnel. I have always found that the agricultural industry is full of people who are willing to not only help each other out but answer all of my questions too. Every person that I have met during my time with Monsanto has always taken the time to explain their role and help me gain a better understanding of how the dynamics of this company work together.
It’s hard to believe that this internship is nearly half-over! This experience has given me so many invaluable opportunities to experience hands-on agricultural engineering already, and I can’t wait to see what I’ll learn in these final few weeks.