New Employees, Our People

Introducing the 2021 EERC Energy Hawks

The Energy Hawks Program is a fully immersive summer internship dedicated to expanding knowledge in all aspects of the energy industry hosted by the State Energy Research Center (SERC) at the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC). We are proud to welcome 13 students to the program in 2021.

Students from all over the state participate in the Energy Hawks program. This year, students taking part attend the University of North Dakota (UND), Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College, North Dakota State University, and Minot State University. We wish them all a successful summer!

Top to bottom, left to right: Laalam, Irvine, Huitron, Bhandari, Ramaseri, Yang, Van Ess, Sczepanski, Picklo, Thompson, Rohrich, Wolf, Finley

Aimen Laalam
Aimen received his master’s degree in Petroleum Engineering from Algeria and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in the Petroleum Engineering Department at UND. In his free time, Aimen enjoys playing and watching soccer and is a big fan of the Bayern München football team from Germany. He is originally from Annaba, Algeria, and currently lives in Grand Forks.

Alaina Irvine
Alaina received her A.S. in Chemistry at Cabrillo College and is currently pursuing a B.S. in Chemical Engineering at UND. She is originally from Los Angeles, California, and her interests include reading, aerial arts, and video games. She also enjoys storytelling through nontraditional mediums.

Alex Huitron
Alex is a third-year law student at the UND School of Law. She is a member of the Law Women’s Caucus and the Student Trial Lawyers Association. She was born in El Paso, Texas, a border city joining Mexico, New Mexico, and Texas . Alex earned her undergraduate degree in Political Science and Communication Studies from the University of Texas at El Paso in 2014. In her spare time, she enjoys learning new languages, cooking, and dancing.

Amit Bhandari
Amit completed his bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance from Idaho State University. He is currently pursuing his master’s degree in Petroleum Engineering at UND. Amit is originally from Nepal, and in his free time, he likes to find adventure through traveling, swimming, and listening to music.

Ananth Ramaseri
Ananth is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Computer Science at UND. He is originally from Hyderabad, India, and his favorite things to do are traveling and photography. Since moving to the US in 2014, he has visited 14 national parks and 35 states.

Zhuoyo (Ben) Yang
Ben is pursuing a B.S. in Computer Science at Minot State University. He is from the sunny city of Singapore but is loving living in the frigid winters of North Dakota! Outside of work, Ben likes to go on road trips or hikes with his wife and baby daughter. He also enjoys regularly spending time in the gym.

Dominick Van Ess
Dominick will be a senior in the Chemical Engineering program at UND this fall. His interest in Chemical Engineering started after he had a job-shadowing experience with a neighbor. He grew up in St. Michael, Minnesota, but was born in Lexington, Kentucky. His interests include anything outdoors, and he is an avid hunter. Before coming to UND, Dominick was a semiprofessional snowboarder but suffered a career-ending injury. Although he still snowboards, he usually hikes and goes backcountry riding.

Hunter Sczepanski
Hunter graduated from UND in May 2019, with a B.B.A. in Banking and Financial Economics. He then moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, to work within the financial services industry as an auditor before returning to UND to pursue a M.S. in Applied Economics and Predictive Analytics. He is from Argyle, Minnesota, and enjoys traveling, golfing, and snowboarding in his free time. He also likes learning about personal finance and statistical decision theory.

Ian Picklo
Ian is double majoring in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics at UND. He grew up in Grand Forks, and enjoys playing guitar, classical and electric, and has played most of his life. In 2017, he completed his Eagle Scout project by building a few little libraries that can be found around Grand Forks. A side project for him this summer involves cleaning and updating the original libraries on the weekends.

Laura Thompson
Laura will be a junior at UND this fall, where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Mathematics. She is from Bemidji, Minnesota, and has a twin brother. Both of her parents and her two siblings are UND alumni. Laura’s hobbies include being outside as much as she can and activities like “hammocking,” running, and biking, although she doesn’t much enjoy outdoor winter activities.

Nick Rohrich
Nick is a student at North Dakota State University pursuing his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. He plans to graduate during the fall of 2021. He is from Mandan, North Dakota, and during the summer, he enjoys hiking, kayaking, and bike riding on trails throughout the state. In the fall and winter, Nick enjoys cross-country skiing and relaxing by the fireplace. He is currently training to run a half-marathon in September in Fargo.

Payton Wolf
Payton is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Banking and Financial Economics at UND and will graduate by the end of 2022. She is from Shakopee, Minnesota, where she lived until moving to Grand Forks. In her free time, she enjoys playing PC video games and playing the piano.

Selena Finley
Selena is studying Environmental Science at Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. She is from Mandaree, North Dakota, and in her spare time, she enjoys playing basketball and spending time with friends and family.

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