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

Since 2001, host companies have saved more than $91 million in implemented intern projects. These projects also divert waste from landfills, reduce hazardous waste, conserve water and energy, and reduce greenhouse gases and emissions. The following annual savings are a testament that improved environmental performance is a cost-effective venture for Iowa’s business sector.

  • 394.9 million kWh of electricity
  • 13.1 million therms of energy
  • 5.0 billion gallons of water
  • 248,956 tons of solid and special waste
  • 8,668 tons of hazardous waste
  • 294,021 MTCO2E

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 18, 2020, 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 Roseland

Student Perspectives

"On a personal level this is certainly the largest problem I’ve had to solve in terms of scale, accountability, and impact. Having solved the problem, I feel more confident in myself as both an engineer and a person."

Dayton Wright, Chemical Engineering, Iowa State University

"You are in control of the direction and outcomes of your internship. Any recommendations that you make could have huge economic and environmental impacts on the company far after you leave.

Chris Berg, Mechanical Engineering, Iowa State University

"It’s an extremely rewarding experience. There’s always room for improvement, even though it might not seem like it in the beginning.

Mohammad Elsouht, Mechancial Engineering, University of Iowa
Company Testimonials

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 Herst, Plant Safety Manager for Smithfield Foods, Sioux City, Iowa

“Our intern got an outstanding amount of work done. He did a great job of opening doors to outside resources and starting conversations that we didn’t have time to do. This will be key in fostering our ability to move forward, implement change and reap the benefits of lowering our operating costs.”

Aaron Long, Plant Manager at Monogram Prepared Meats, Harlan, Iowa
Student Information

Graduate and upper-level undergraduate students enrolled in engineering 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 2019 and spring of 2020 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 2020 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. 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 2020 intern is December 2, 2019. Technical staff is available to assist with project development or to complete the request form.

"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, JBS Swift Pork

"Our intern got an outstanding amount of work done. He did a great job of opening doors to outside resources and starting conversations that we didn’t have time to do. This will be key in fostering our ability to move forward, implement change and reap the benefits of lowering our operating costs. " Aaron Long, Monogram Prepared Meats

Resources and Information
Intern Case Summaries
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