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Ten weeks reducing and repurposing plastic: One memorable summer

AUTHOR: Nina Welding

PUBLISHED: November 22, 2019

Lies discusses project details with her team during Booz Allen's Summer Games.

Jen Lies, a senior mechanical engineering major, spent her summer participating in Booz Allen Hamilton's Summer Games internship program. More than 7,000 students applied, and only 383 were accepted into the ten-week program.

The competition within the program itself was also intense. Guided by company mentors, teams of four to five students from universities across the country applied their technical expertise to real-world situations — everything from 3D printed drones to emergency response solutions. A total of 81 projects were presented.

Lies’ team worked on a project to reduce and repurpose plastic waste on military bases thereby decreasing environmental pollution from the bases.

At the end of the summer, each team presented solutions to a review committee of leaders at Booz Allen.

The Summer Games program was Lies’ third internship. She spent the summer between her sophomore and junior years working in Erie, Pa., with GE Transportation. While there, she served as part of the Marine and Stationary Engine Team studying engine efficiency and performance.

Team members, from left to right, were Amanda Tatem, University of Rochester; Keith Fernandez, Amherst College; Kendall Herlica, James Madison University; Ian Wilkie Tomasik, Cornell University; and Jen Lies, University of Notre Dame.
Between her freshman and sophomore years, Lies worked on a local construction site with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). Most of her internship was spent learning from IDOT mentors, monitoring and recording the construction process and performing land surveys.

“I learned a lot from each internship,” Lies said. “The Summer Games program gave me the most diverse experience because it involved working with a team of other interns. Each of my teammates came from a different school, and each brought a different expertise to the team.” According to Lies, another unique aspect of the internship was that she and the other interns were challenged to expand not only their technical skills but also their business development and analytical skills.

Back on campus, Lies’ focus is on graduation and her future as an engineer. “I’m not headed to graduate school right away,” she said, “but I hope to return to school to get my MBA after a few years of experience in the workforce.”