Pollution Prevention Intern Program

Challenging, hands-on internships with Iowa Pollution Prevention Services offer an introduction to project management through assigned projects at top Iowa companies achieving economic and environmental results. Interns apply acquired technical skills to their assigned project to assess a process or a system, identify opportunities, research and recommend alternative options, and implement improvements. An analysis of economic and environmental results is developed for each recommendation.

Through this paid internship, students in this program are provided the opportunity to demonstrate their technical abilities and leadership skills at the host companies. Their professional development is enhanced by the experience of working on multi-functional teams promoting long-term sustainability. Students may also establish and build professional networks through host company staff and contact with vendors and suppliers. Historically, 25 percent report receiving offers of full-time employment from previous Pollution Prevention Intern host companies.

Common projects address:
  • Boiler efficiencies
  • Compressed air systems
  • HVAC system efficiencies
  • Motor efficiencies
  • Water conservation
  • Water/wastewater treatment
  • Process improvements
  • Solid/hazardous waste reduction
  • Alternative energy

Since 2001, host companies have saved more than $78.2 million in implemented intern projects. These projects also save water, divert waste from landfills, reduce hazardous waste and conserve energy and greenhouse gas emissions. The following annual savings are a testament that improved environmental performance is a cost-effective venture for Iowa’s business sector.

  • 377 million kWh of electricity
  • 9.75 million therms of energy
  • 1.47 billion gallons of water
  • 219,100 tons of solid and special waste
  • 8,312 tons of hazardous waste

For more detailed information on recently implemented projects, review the Pollution Prevention Intern Program Case Summaries booklet.

How does the Pollution Prevention Intern Program work?

Iowa businesses, institutions, or agencies submit potential projects for consideration.

The DNR matches upper-level engineering students with specific projects based on each student's coursework, academic performance, experience, technical and communication skills.

After one week of training with program staff the intern serves at the host facility, where they analyze the current process, research strategies, calculate cost comparisons and implement improvements. After writing a final report documenting results and recommendations, the intern presents this information to management at the host company and writes a case summary of the project.

Internships begin in May, with 12- or 24-week project opportunities available.

While on-site the intern reports to a company supervisor, who provides daily supervision, company resources, and ensures company support of the project and implementation. Technical advisers with the program provide interns with resources, tools and technical support and guidance throughout their internship.

** Students are not trained in or qualified to assess regulatory compliance issues. **

For more information, contact:

Danielle Dilks

Student Perspectives

This internship requires independent motivation and initiative. The intern is responsible for creating his or her own schedule, project ideas, research, and economic justification. The P2 program gives their interns a lot more responsibility than other intern programs. Speaking from my own experience, taking on these responsibilities has helped me to build confidence in my own abilities.

Chelsea Lindelof, Iowa State University


Being able to manage your own project and see the impact your project has on both the company and the environment gives you a huge sense of accomplishment.
Alex George, Iowa State University


You really get to explore and find solutions on your own. You have a team of engineers and advisers helping along the way, but it is really up to you to go out there and do research, take data, explore options and recommend projects. It was rewarding knowing that everything I had worked hard on has been honestly considered. I feel like I really had an impact on the company. Micah Rambo, Iowa State University

Student Information

Graduate and upper-level undergraduate students enrolled in engineering disciplines or physical science majors are encouraged to apply. A complete application packet consists of a resume, an application form, an unofficial copy of most recent transcripts and a list of fall of 2015 and spring of 2016 courses. A cover letter explaining what type of project the student feels would be most interesting is not required, but is helpful to the recruiters when preparing project assignments.

The intern selection process will begin mid-October and continue into the spring until all project assignments are finalized. Applications from students will be accepted until all projects are finalized. Students are encouraged to apply early for the best consideration of all projects.

Host Company Information

Iowa companies, medical facilities, academic campuses, or government agencies with a desire to improve environmental performance may submit a project request for a 2016 intern. Eligible companies have more than 100 employees, are RCRA Large Quantity Generators of hazardous waste, OR incur annual energy costs of more than one million dollars. Selected companies must sign a uniform program agreement prior to an intern being assigned to the project. A cost share of $6,000.00 is paid to the department for each 12-week increment of participation in the Pollution Prevention Intern Program.

The deadline for companies to submit a request for a 2016 intern is December 1, 2015. Technical staff is available to assist with project development or to complete the request form.

"Sivyer Steel is thoroughly pleased with the P2 Intern Program. The professionalism and support of our intern, as well as the P2 Staff was incredible and a valuable resource to any business." Tonya Burgess, Sivyer Steel Corporation, Davenport, Iowa

Resources and Information
Intern Case Summaries
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