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Trading my cool Los Angeles evenings for hot, sticky Nashville nights felt like returning to my cozy home back in Iowa. This summer, I had the opportunity to work for the General Motors plant in Spring Hill, TN manufacturing the GMC Acadia, Cadillac XT5 and XT6, and the infamous Cadillac LYRIQ EV. Not only did I have the opportunity to be fully immersed in the industry I am passionate about, but I also got to return to my Midwestern roots being near the birthplace of country music. 

Boots to the Ground Days in the Plant 

My outfit during the work week consisted of a pair of boot-cut jeans, a polo, steel-toed cowboy boots (in case you were wondering: no, they are not very fashionable), a safety vest, and a pair of safety glasses. Every day in the manufacturing environment is a new day complete with new challenges to solve and new ideas for future improvement. Over the plant shutdown in July, I got to work with machinists on-site to rebuild traction wheels that pull vehicles through the pre-treatment paint system. During the beginning of August, I was invited to the Southern Women in Automotive forum where I was inspired by GM’s VP of Global Manufacturing as well as the new battery assembly plant manager for Nissan. Not only did I have the opportunity to listen to some outstanding speakers, but I also got to network professionally with other women in the automotive industry. 

The Work Life Balance I Desire

Outside of the office, my team and I completed two different escape rooms: one playground and the other submarine-themed. In addition we tried lots of the “make your mouth water” restaurants around town. If you haven’t had the chance yet, nashville hot chicken is quite tasty (it might even beat about sushi for my new favorite food). Our site hosted roughly 20 interns over the summer, and I was fortunate enough to form friendships with my entire cohort. Together we explored downtown, went fishing on the Duck River, and hosted pool parties. We even ended up on a Civil War-themed ghost tour in Franklin, TN–which make me slightly more uneasy to sleep in my apartment that was located directly on the front line!

Taking my Wheels Outside the Office 

I got to spend my summer with my boyfriend of 5 years who attends Iowa State as a civil engineering student. The last two years, we have been dating long distance with him being in Iowa and me being 28 hours away in California. Together we visited the historic Grand Ole Opry, a stage that has hosted the likes of Elvis Presley and Dolly Parton. We also traveled further south to visit The Caverns, a concert venue located in a cave within Smoky Mountains.

In true GM fashion, I hope that every engineering student has the chance to experience “Everybody In” hands-on-deck internship experience! 

Grace Sampson

MAJOR: Mechanical Engineering YEAR: Class of 2024 HOMETOWN: Blue Grass, Iowa PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @grace.sampson I am currently involved in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), which is a student organization that focuses on social, profession, and community driven events to support women in STEM fields. I am also involved with the Formula Electric team as the Powertrain lead where I help with the design and manufacturing of the vehicle's battery. I also work as a TA for our mechanical engineering measurement and instrumentation class. Outside of engineering, I am involved in the Ski and Snowboard Team which has a permanent residence in Mammoth for the winter season.