Our People, Research

A Virtual Summer

As this year’s Energy Hawks interns begin a new semester, we reflect with them on their unique summer experiences. For each of the 2018 and 2019 summers, about a dozen students were able to visit energy-related businesses around the state to learn firsthand about the energy environment in North Dakota. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020’s summer internship program took place online, and students and facilitators chose to adapt and continue learning to the best of their ability—from the comfort of their own homes.  

“The online setting this summer was a challenging but enriching opportunity,” said Energy Hawk Jacob Nelson. “We were able to bond as a team to research and learn from anywhere we could take our laptops. We are all really proud of the research we did and projects we presented, which made the summer even more fun and rewarding.”

The hard work and commitment of everyone involved allowed the Energy Hawks to virtually visit many of the same places previous interns traveled to in years past, including visits with the North Dakota Industrial Council, Minnkota Power Cooperative’s Milton R. Young Station, Basin Electric’s Prairie Winds wind farm, Watford City and McKenzie County leaders, and Neset Consulting Service.

“The best part of the internship was the virtual tours. It was interesting to learn how the oil boom in North Dakota brought changes, both good and bad,” said Rijana Adhikari, an Energy Hawk from Nepal. “Getting to meet people from around the state gave me insight into how new development is planned for the betterment of state residents’ lives.”

To round out their summer internship, three groups were formed, and each completed a final paper and presentation about an energy topic of their choosing. Topics included a look at the feasibility of food waste as feedstock for biofuel, the effects of decalage in biplane wind turbine blades, and rare-earth elements and the impact of introducing a new industry in North Dakota. Presentations were delivered to EERC staff and state and energy leaders on a Zoom call.

Thank you to all involved with the program for another wonderful summer!

Funding for the Energy Hawks internship program is provided by the State Energy Research Center (SERC). For more information about SERC and the Energy Hawks, please visit our website.

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