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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 analyze current systems, research alternative processes or technologies and recommend cost effective strategies to improve the way they manufacture, consume, reuse, and recycle materials and resources.

Through this paid internship, students in this program are provided the hands-on opportunity to demonstrate their technical skills and leadership abilities at the host companies. Interns work with a broad range of staff, expertise, and resources to compile data and develop innovative recommendations. Students also establish and build professional networks through host company staff and contact with vendors and suppliers. Historically, 25 percent report receiving leads or offers of full-time employment as a result of their internship.

Common projects address:
  • Water usage reduction
  • Water/wastewater treatment
  • Boiler and steam systems
  • Compressed air systems
  • HVAC systems
  • Motor efficiencies
  • Process improvements
  • Resource recovery/reuse
  • Solid/hazardous material reduction

P2 Anniversary Issue

This document highlights the power of this teamwork and achievements that we, as Iowans, can all celebrate.

Implemented Results

Since 2001, host companies have saved more than $116.6 million in implemented intern projects. These projects conserve water and energy, reduce hazardous material usage, divert waste from landfills, and reduce greenhouse gases and emissions. The following savings are a testament that improved environmental performance is a cost-effective venture for Iowa’s business sector.

  • 513 million kWh of electricity
  • 23.7 million therms of energy
  • 6.06 billion gallons of water
  • 274,855 tons of solid and special waste
  • 10,242 tons of hazardous waste
  • 415,947 MTCO2E

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

How does the Pollution Prevention Intern Program work?

Iowa companies or agencies submit potential intern 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 P2 program staff the intern serves at the host facility for eleven weeks, 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.

Interns will begin on-site project work on May 28, 2024 and 12-week internships will end on August 9, 2024, while 28-week coop projects will end on November 29, 2024.

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 Roseland.


Student Perspectives

“Through this journey, I gained valuable experience and a wealth of knowledge that will undoubtedly shape my future career aspirations.” - Jonathan Chan

"The P2 intern program allows for interns to not only solve problems but be the one who identifies them. Being able to independently find and solve a problem with real consequences at your site is an experience few internships can provide. " - Jason Melnick

Networking with employees at all levels in a workplace environment has given me more confidence in myself, my engineering abilities, and communication skills. ” - DeJuan Robertson

"I found that this internship helped me to prepare for the real world of engineering as I was able to throw myself into my project and jump into the deep end." - Aidan McDermott

Student Information

Graduate and Junior or Senior undergraduate students enrolled in engineering majors are encouraged to apply. A complete application packet consists of a résumé, an application form, an unofficial copy of most recent transcript and a list of fall 2023 and anticipated spring 2024 courses. A cover letter explaining what type of project the student feels would be most interesting and a good fit for them is helpful to the recruiters when considering project assignments. Students will be fully considered for projects with or without a cover letter.

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.

P2 Intern Program Application (PDF)

P2 Intern Program Application (Word)

2023 Student Fact Sheet

Company Testimonials

“The P2 Intern Program is a valuable way for some of Iowa’s brightest engineering students to gain exposure to our company, demonstrate their skills and develop innovative solutions for challenging environmental projects. We have been impressed with the caliber of students and the projects at our facility have resulted in improved environmental performance and economic savings. We are proud to support the local community and area students interested in growing their career in the fields of engineering and environmental protection.

Charles Heisel, Environmental Manager at JBS USA, Ottumwa

“This program is an excellent resource to employers in the state of Iowa. Each year, our assigned intern has provided us with results that have helped us improve our sustainability programs and environmental management.”

Brian Herbst, Plant Safety Manager at Smithfield Foods, Inc., Sioux City

“I would highly recommend this program to other companies. Not only does it give the host company a chance to finish something they may not have the time or resources for, it gives the students real time experience and helps prepare them to hit the ground running once they complete the degree work.”

Kevin West, EH&S Coordinator at Rosenboom, Sheldon

Host Company Information

Iowa companies, healthcare facilities, academic campuses, or government agencies with a desire to improve environmental performance should submit a project request for a 2024 intern. Eligible companies have must meet one of the following criteria: more than 100 employees, are RCRA Large Quantity Generators of hazardous waste, TRI Reporters, 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 internship project with the Pollution Prevention Intern Program. A cost share of $12,000.00 (payable in two installments) is paid to the department for each 28-week co-op project with the Pollution Prevention Intern Program. Companies may apply for a $3,000 waiver of the cost share for their first year of participation.

The deadline for companies to submit a request for a 2024 intern is December 8, 2023. Technical staff is available to assist with project development or to complete the request form.

Company Project Request Form (PDF)

Company Project Request Form (Word)

P2 Intern Program Case Summary Dashboard