Sept. 2, 2009
Five UI students research pollution prevention at host companies
This summer, five University of Iowa College of Engineering students researched methods of reducing waste, conserving energy and preventing pollution as part of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) 2009 Pollution Prevention Intern Program.
The students completed 12-week internships at host companies in Iowa and Nebraska. In addition, the students examined the cost of their recommendations versus current practice and, in most cases, begin implementing their programs.
The IDNR implemented the Pollution Prevention Intern Program in 2001 as a collaboration involving government, business and academia to develop cost-effective options for preventing or minimizing waste from industrial processes. Host companies receive a comprehensive report of the intern's work and recommendations to continue implementation and maintain new processes implemented.
Spencer Schoonover of LaCrescent, Minn. is a chemical engineering major who worked at Linwood Mining and Minerals in Davenport. While at Linwood, he helped develop a process to recover clay and silt from wastewater used in the processing of limestone.
"This internship is important to me because it is my first engineering consulting experience," Schoonvner said. "It has been rewarding in that I now have a taste for what my future job may entail. I've learned to ask questions when you're unsure, and that there is always more than one way to solve a problem."
Adam Smith, a chemical engineering student from Waukee, worked at Hydrite Chemical Co. in Waterloo and evaluated methods to reduce or eliminate chemicals used in the wastewater pretreatment process. He worked on a system called an Elementary Neutralization Unit that treats chemical wastewater before being discharged to the local treatment facility.
"The internship has been a great learning experience," Smith said. "I really enjoy getting up each day and going to work. It has taught me a lot of things about business in the real world, not only engineering and solving problems, but working, interacting, and getting along with other people. The internship has really shown me that chemical and process engineering is really what I want to do for the rest of my life."
Dustin Tardiff, a mechanical engineering student from Cedar Rapids, helped Quaker Oats in Cedar Rapids Quaker perform a detailed analysis of the utility requirements of its production operations.
"I had the opportunity to apply resource conservation ideas received in the classroom as well as from pollution prevention services. The internship has been very demanding of my technical and project management skills, and therefore has been very beneficial to my training," Tardiff said.
Mark B. Weldon, a resource conservation engineer at Quaker Oats, said, "Dustin spent a lot of time investigating process flow paths and equipment capacities, and then translating this information into a working model. This model will be a valuable tool in analyzing process efficiencies and identifying opportunities to improve the energy profile of our operations."
David K. Jones, a mechanical engineering student from Council Bluffs, worked at Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, where he identified and prioritized energy efficiency improvements and developed an implementation plan.
"I'll take away a lot of good lessons having observed the way that people I work with interact. I've learned a lot about organization and how to work together to accomplish goals," Jones said.
Nicholas Petrich of Carol Stream, Ill. is a chemical engineering major who worked at John Deere Ottumwa Works. His project entailed evaluating methods to reduce hazardous waste in the paint process. Petrich, who wants to work as an environmental engineer, says this project could save John Deere thousands of dollars per year, as well as reduce greenhouse gas and conventional air pollutant emissions.
For more information on the Pollution Prevention Intern Program, see http://www.iowadnr.gov/waste/p2/intern.html.
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500
MEDIA CONTACTS: Phil Jordan, UI College of Engineering, firstname.lastname@example.org; Danielle Dilks, IDNR, Danielle.Dilks@dnr.iowa.gov; George McCrory, University News Services, 319-384-0012, email@example.com