Alumni Highlights

Noelle Penner Noelle Penner

Noelle Penner

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
BS BioResource & Agricultural Engineering (BRAE) 2011

Project Engineer, GAF Materials Corporation (Shafter Shingle Plant)

Let me start with a little background about myself. I majored in BRAE because I loved math and agriculture and wanted to go into a career that was active and where I wouldn’t get bored working at a desk all day. I graduated from Cal Poly in June 2011 and who knew that right out of college my dream would come true? I started as a co-op and was hired full-time after just 3 months.

I am now a Project Engineer at the Shafter Shingle Plant for GAF Materials Corporation in Shafter, CA. This plant manufactures Timberline® roofing shingles, Z-Ridge®, and Pro-Start®. As a project engineer I have been responsible for mechanical design and installation of upgrade/improvement and replacement projects. It is hard to describe a day in my life because every day is different! That is one of the biggest reasons why I love my job. With that being said, I’ll take you through the general process of a project.

Once I am assigned a project, the first step is to research the project and write an AFCE (Authority for Capital Expenditure). An AFCE is a report that explains what a project is, why it is being done, what will need to be done, how long it will take, and how much it will cost. This report gets submitted to corporate and it gets approved by certain people depending on how much the project will cost. Once an AFCE is approved, the work can begin!

For mechanical projects, I begin by modeling the project. We use AutoDesk Inventor 2013 for our 3D modeling, which is very similar to SolidWorks. Once a concept is modeled a design review is held with the Production and Maintenance teams to make sure that they approve of it, and to see if they have any ideas or criticisms for the design. From the design review the model is changed (if needed), then approved once again, and then I create a drawing package to send out for fabrication.

The drawings get sent, parts get fabricated, other parts get ordered, labor gets scheduled, and then it’s time for installation. For installs I either manage in-house labor, or contractors, for my project. Crews I’ve managed  have ranged from 1 worker to about 10. Once an install is complete a Project Safety Start-up Review (PSSR) is held to make sure everything is safe and ready for start-up, and then the machine is in use!

Once an install is finished, almost all that’s left is to make sure that all the parts got received, invoices paid, labor charged to the right place, and then the project is complete! There are other aspects to projects, but now you know the general process. If you want to know more, feel free to ask me! My e-mail here at GAF is

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