In partnership with Project Lead the Way, MnDOT created the Phoenix Program which provides paid internships for high school students enrolled in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. The 35W@94 project team is lucky to have a Phoenix intern, Isabel Bergemann!

How did you learn about and apply for this internship?

I found out about this position through my school’s engineering program called Project Lead the Way.  It is a program that introduces engineering into the classrooms of high schools nationwide. I was in the Civil Engineering and Architecture course when I heard about the internship through The Phoenix Program. I applied because I have always enjoyed my PLTW courses (I have taken them for 6 years), and I felt like it would be a productive and interesting way to spend my summer. And it definitely has been!

What have you learned so far during this internship?

I want to study Civil Engineering, focusing on environmental sciences within engineering, and possibly double major or minor in Spanish. I have learned so much about engineering through this internship it would be impossible to keep it short. I have most importantly seen this variety (civil engineering) because I work in project management, and we oversee many different kinds of projects. I think one of the things that is helpful to see is that engineering isn’t all calculus and physics, it is also communicating ideas to the public and coordination with other groups of people. An understanding of physics and calculus is important, but it isn’t the only thing you need to understand to be a good engineer.

I have learned to collect traffic data, use a lot of different functions in excel, coordinate with other agencies, coordinate with consultants, give presentations, find community connections, project schedules, meeting organization, note taking, survey data, pop-up events, event possibilities, contract forms, request forms, project organization charts, and more.

What has been your favorite project during this internship?

My favorite project so far was definitely the Storm Water Management activity and presentation that we did with Justice Page Middle School. I spent so much time on it, and you can see the direct result in the students faces. We got to go into the class and give a presentation, some students got to see the real life applications of engineering, and therefore will follow their curiosity in the subject. Maybe one of them will have my internship one day and get to do the same thing.

Pictured below is Isabel assembling the storm water experiment for the JPMS students!

Are there other opportunities to get involved at MnDOT?

If you are interested in an internship at MnDOT there are a lot of opportunities! In high school, juniors can apply to the Phoenix Internship program for PLTW or STEM focused students. The Civil Engineering Internship Program is for civil engineering or construction engineering students. The Seeds Student Worker Program is for students with at least one year left of college who qualify as one of the following: minority, recently separated veteran, student with a disability, female student in S.T.E.M or non-tradition field of study, or economically disadvantaged. The MnROW helps interns transition to fulltime employment at MnDOT. The Graduate Engineer and Land Surveyor Trainee Program is for graduates with a Master's degree in a civil engineering or land surveying related field and an FE or PE (for Graduate Engineers) or a FS or PS (for Land Surveyors).

You can visit http://www.dot.state.mn.us/careers/student-grad.html to find out more information.

Thanks for your hard work, Isabel!