Internship program helps students build skills, make connections

2015 summer interns with MnDOT commissioner Charles Zelle and CTS director Laurie McGinnis

2015 summer interns with MnDOT commissioner Charles Zelle and CTS director Laurie McGinnis

While some interns spend their days making copies and coffee runs, Caitlin Johnson spent her summer internship working on a research project exploring ways to improve safety in work zones.

Johnson, a fifth-year civil engineering student, is one of eight undergrads from the University of Minnesota who participated in this year’s Summer Transportation Internship Program.

Interns worked at the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) for 10 weeks and gained valuable transportation-related experience in areas ranging from designing roadways to measuring pavement movement. The program, offered jointly by CTS and MnDOT, is now in its fourth year.

This year’s participants included the following students, working in these MnDOT offices:

  • Caitlin Johnson, Office of Traffic, Safety and Technology
  • Mamadou Mbengue, Office of Environmental Stewardship
  • Ellie Lee, Office of Design
  • Luke Horsager, Bridge & Hydraulics Office
  • Sheue Torng Lee, Materials & Pavement Office
  • Trenton Pray, Materials & Concrete Office
  • Colleen Tamara Maluda, Environmental & Vegetation Office
  • Lucas Karri, Bridge Office

Johnson says her internship at MnDOT gave her the opportunity to study a topic that hasn’t been explored in-depth in the past and present those findings to industry professionals, including staff from the Federal Highway Administration. Luke Horsager, a civil engineering senior, spent his internship with the Bridge & Hydraulics Office equipping MnDOT boats with new GPS and Bluetooth software used for river mapping and monitoring bridge scour. He says he enjoyed gaining hands-on experience with the technology.

Heidi Gray, a MnDOT Metro District designer who supervised intern Ellie Lee in the Office of Design, says the internship program is valuable not only for the students, but also for the supervisors and MnDOT as a whole. While the interns gained important hands-on work experience and made valuable professional connections, MnDOT supervisors were introduced to talented young professionals.

“It’s really good to get young people in here and teach them what MnDOT is all about,” Gray says. “I personally have enjoyed the opportunity to teach and pass along what I know. It’s a good refresher.”

Application materials for the 2016 Summer Transportation Internship Program will be available on the CTS website in early November.

For more information, read the full article in the September issue of Catalyst or visit the internship program web page.

Posted in Education, Workforce development

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