Featuring McKee Foods and Felicia Bennett
What is your name?
What is your position at McKee Foods?
I am a design drafter at McKee Foods.
How long have you been in this role?
I have been in this role for 1 year, but I started out as a drafting intern in the engineering department for 10 months. After I graduated from college, I was offered a full-time position.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Every day is different, but I usually begin with gathering information and dimensions for creating designs. To accomplish this, I usually go into our facility and take measurements using calipers, measuring tapes, 3D scans of the rooms and laser distometers. Not every project that I do needs all these tools – usually a measuring tape will do the trick. To create the model design, I use Solidworks and, if I need to create a building or room layout, I use AutoCAD. McKee takes drafting a bit further and allows me to have responsibility over ordering and purchasing parts as well as installation oversight of my designs.
How would you describe your career to someone unfamiliar with it?
My job is to create a 3D design based on our plant needs, which could include platforms, piping routes, carts, and full system designs. Then, I create drawings so that our company fabrication department, or outside contractors, can fabricate the design and oversee the installation.
What do you enjoy most about your career?
I enjoy seeing my designs come to life. Seeing it as a 3D model is one thing – normally it looks small on the computer screen – but after the design is completely finished and installed, it is very large in comparison. It is so satisfying to see the finished product and know that I made it.
What kind of education or training opportunities helped you become successful?
I earned a certification for Solidworks associate version, which is general knowledge of the software, I became certified in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint and I earned my associate degree in engineering systems technology. My degree also came with a certification for mechanical drafting, civil drafting, and architectural drafting. Beyond that, on-the-job training and learning how things function in an industry setting is a valuable experience.
What would you tell a high school student or adult considering a career similar to yours?
I would tell them that it is a really interesting field to pursue, no matter what you are working on. Whether it is an architectural building, a civil landscape or a mechanical design, you will not have a dull moment. There is always something different that gives you challenges, and it is very interesting to try and decide how to overcome these obstacles. I know I made mistakes when I started at McKee, but I continually learned from my mistakes and steadily improved at my job.
What training do you feel is most valuable to someone considering a career that is similar to yours?
Taking courses that prepared me for operating the different software was helpful. Classes that focused on understanding Solidworks and AutoCAD were very beneficial and helped prepare me for the industry. However, there is only so much that you can learn in a school setting. It important to also engage in hands-on training, as that provides so much of the experience and knowledge that is vital to this career.
How did that training prepare you for your job now?
It made it a lot easier when I started my job because I already had a working knowledge of the software. There was still a lot to learn, but it gave me a great starting point so that I could learn how McKee’s drawings, models and diagrams are set up.
What is working for McKee like?
McKee is a great place to work. Since I started working for McKee, I have learned a lot from my coworkers and have been given many opportunities to grow and learn new skills.
What do you enjoy the most about working at McKee?
Every day is always something different. One day you might be making a platform, and the next you are working on piping routes. There is always something new that keeps you on your toes. However, my favorite thing is the people. It does not matter if you are in the offices or the plant, you always feel like you are around family.