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Industrial and systems engineering senior finds STEM skillset an asset in law internship

Baylee Demuth | Sep 30, 2019

Industrial and systems engineering senior finds STEM skillset an asset in law internship

Baylee Demuth | Sep 30, 2019

While some may think there’s no place for an engineer in a non-traditional job like a law firm, industrial and systems engineering senior Alvin Chaney saw it as an opportunity to make the most of his skills and passions.

Chaney was a 2019 Summer Work Experience in Law (SWEL) Scholar, where he was the only engineering student of 38 participants. Since 1988, SWEL Scholars have been placed in a variety of legal internship positions within the private and public sectors throughout Ohio, and just recently, in Kentucky.

Chaney was assigned to law firm Graydon, Head, and Ritchey LLP of Fort Mitchell as a Graydon GROW Northern Kentucky (NKY) Intern. He also worked at the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. Both experiences gave him practical experience in the legal profession and the non-profit industry.

“I was a little surprised how much engineering I used in the law firm,” Chaney said. “I was happy though, because you never really think about it, coming from engineering, how other industries are.”

Chaney first received the opportunity to intern through SWEL in 2018, but he had already accepted an internship with General Tool Company in Cincinnati, an aerospace, defense and commercial manufacturer. While there, Chaney developed standard work documents to reduce training time and machine downtime, while also establishing new baselines for future analysis. He said that with the amount of engineering experience he gained from General Tool, the position with Graydon was opportune.

"As long as I've known him, Alvin has been interested in pursuing a law degree after completing his engineering degree," said Industrial and Systems Engineering Chair and Professor Dale Masel. "This internship was a great opportunity for him to the legal side of his future plans. Alvin has always been a conscientious student and great representative of ISE and the Russ College."

At Graydon, Chaney completed special projects, including an economic development project in which he was a key researcher. He researched, gathered, analyzed and tabulated data on potential land development sites by used data management and analysis, project management, and process improvement skills from his classes at Ohio University.

“People wonder why I chose a non-traditional internship,” Chaney said. “I would say it’s not non-traditional, it’s an asset. The field is endless and there are a lot of changes every day. Engineers can do it all.

Chaney’s work also tasked him with providing project and administrative support to GROW NKY’s vice president. He evaluated the findings of a recent MIT USA Lab Research Study to develop actionable goals and objectives. As Chaney shifted from an engineering mindset to a law mindset, he realized that both fields are focused on solving problems.

“The theme for the summer was ‘goal digger’: dig for your goals and keep digging, and once you get there, keep digging some more,” Chaney said. “My goal is to go to law school and also just have enough faith to take the next step, whatever that may be.”

Chaney is a member of the Karol A. and Jo Ondick Engineering Ambassadors Program, Presidential Leadership Society, Alpha Pi Mu Industrial Engineering Honor Society and the Robe Leadership Institute.