By Colton H, Engineering Intern and Student Ambassador
Agriculture has always been a passion of mine. Growing up on a row crop and cattle operation in northern Missouri really ingrained in me the importance of the industry, which ultimately led to my life-long goal of having a career combining engineering and ag. So, when Monsanto offered me a position within Global Engineering as a Seed Process Engineering Co-op, I quickly realized the significance of the opportunity. This co-op experience has not only allowed me to take a big step forward in my personal and professional development, but it has also given me the chance to make significant contributions and gain real-world engineering experience with a company whose mission aligns with my own.
I came into my role, as a Mechanical Engineering major from the University of Missouri, not quite knowing what to expect. Although I was familiar with Monsanto and some of its brands, I was still fairly hesitant about working at such a large company. However, after an exciting seven months at Monsanto, I am able to confidently say that I have had a great experience within a broad variety of roles in corn and cotton production.
One of my priorities involved providing support to the cotton modernization project, which is responsible, in part, for constructing a new, state-of-the-art, $140 million facility in Lubbock, Texas as Monsanto’s central hub for processing cotton in the U.S. For this project, I assumed the role of a process engineer, which required me to create and review important documents, such as engineering flow diagrams, equipment information summaries, and project models. I was also able to assist with equipment testing—a major facet of the project due to the utilization of new technologies. My involvement with the Cotton Modernization Project provided a valuable learning experience and an opportunity to gain exposure to the cotton production business.
With some experience under my belt, I then took on the responsibility of being an additional project engineer within the corn production business. I was asked to help with treatment upgrades that are being implemented at five different corn production facilities, along with one foundation facility. Besides laying some groundwork for this project, I also had the opportunity to travel to a majority of the corn production sites to provide direction to contractors and construction managers. When completed, these upgrades will enable the application of new seed treatments, further enhancing our customer offerings.
During this eight month co-op, I have successfully managed a progressively increasing workload, which has resulted in receiving my own project to directly facilitate involving color sorter upgrades. Upon completion in August, the upgrades will provide the color sorters with shape recognition software. Installation of this software will reduce the amount of foreign material in seed bags, leading to a consistent product that exceeds the expectations of Monsanto’s customers. Managing my own project has made me feel more like a full-time engineer, and I am very appreciative of the opportunity and responsibility.
There are several things that I will take away from the various roles that I held during my co-op. One example that will really stick with me is every employee’s dedication to quality. Whether it was site personnel or co-workers in St. Louis, every person I came in contact with was focused on doing their part to produce the best product possible. This kind of commitment is what enables Monsanto to maintain the level of quality to which its customers are accustomed.
These last few months have allowed me to gain hands-on experience as a full-time engineer while I have worked to develop strong relationships within the company. I fully believe that my time with Monsanto will be beneficial to my career for years to come.