ESCO Engages Blog

Future Engineer Gets Hands-On Experience at Weir ESCO

Portland High School senior, Erim Hur, spent her summer vacation redesigning Weir ESCO’s metal casting exhibit.

by Erim Hur

When I entered high school three years ago, I saw myself pursuing a career in the medical field. But this week I started my senior year with a different direction in mind: engineering. The shift occurred gradually, but I recently had an amazing experience that confirmed that engineering is the right career path for me. I spent my summer vacation with Weir ESCO in Portland, Ore.

I’ve always enjoyed math and science. Classes in chemistry and physics opened my eyes to how engineering applies in every corner of the real world. I love the arts, too. My experience playing the flute has shown me the connection between music and math. And classes in ceramics and 3D art have taught me about physical space. Art and science go hand in hand, and a career in engineering will allow me to draw on both of these interests. That’s why my experience this summer was so special.

Weir ESCO has an exhibit that it takes to community events like the OMSI Maker Faire to teach children and adults about the art and science of metal casting technology. The exhibit is cumbersome to transport and labor-intensive to set up and take down. My assignment over the summer was to re-envision it as a portable unit that could be shared more easily with a larger number of schools and community organizations to highlight careers in STEM. The project was all mine from beginning to end, which was both exciting and a huge responsibility. The opportunity came about because of Weir ESCO’s partnership with Saturday Academy, a nonprofit that provides access to hands-on learning and mentorship experiences for Portland-area students like me who are interested in STEM. 

I loved the idea of having a project that was mine to accomplish and I dove right in. And, although the work environment was very different from what I’m used to in school and the pandemic meant working mostly from home, I felt completely supported.

My mentors, Weir ESCO engineers Steven Hyde and Kelly Fox, gave me a crash course in casting and introduced me to the basic design engineering process. They also helped me understand that engineering is about problem-solving. I began by interviewing the project’s internal customers—experts who have been operating the casting booth for years—to understand their goals and requirements for the mobile exhibit. I took measurements, did calculations, produced design drawings, created 3D models and much more.

I also learned a few things about myself. For example, I’m a perfectionist and can get hung up on the details sometimes. Staying focused is important. I also learned how to take initiative to drive a project to completion rather than waiting on others.

At the end of my eight-week learning experience, I presented my proposal for creating the mobile casting exhibit to a group of engineers and executives. The proposal included the design, an in-depth supply list, and real-life recommendations for the type of demonstration trailer to house the exhibit and fixtures to store its supplies, I’m excited to report that the company has already purchased the trailer and plans to build it out this fall!

Right from the start of this experience, I got to see what engineers do every day. I had access to professional engineers who generously taught me so much about product design, collaboration, time management and creating a positive customer experience.

I will take these valuable lessons and new skills with me as I prepare for the college application process and begin my career in the future. I’m so grateful for this opportunity. Thank you to Weir ESCO, Saturday Academy and especially to Steven and Kelly for this wonderful learning experience!

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