Intern Insight: Karina Padilla

My name is Karina Padilla, and I just started my senior year at the University of Houston as a mechanical engineering student. This past summer, I interned with General Electric (GE) Power in Schenectady, New York as a mechanical design intern. This was my second internship with GE; I worked for their Water and Process Technologies division as a manufacturing intern in Summer 2015. Throughout both of these internships, I gained valuable skills all while making life long friends.  

thumbnail_karinaAt GE Power, I worked with the generator engineering team, and my projects encompassed almost every aspect in the design process – design, testing, and cost analysis. Through my design project, I was granted the opportunity to apply for a patent. I had to present my design to senior engineers and patent lawyers to be considered. Thankfully, it was approved by GE, and I have been working continuously with the lawyers since then in order to create the application that will be submitted to the US Patent and Trading Office.

My favorite part of my internship was creating relationships with coworkers and other fellow interns! Everyone was very welcoming and always willing to help. Furthermore, my advice to everyone is to not be afraid to speak up and ask questions. I was hesitant to show my peers the design I created with the fear of being rejected, but it all turned out greater than I expected! If I wouldn’t have faced my fears, I would have never gotten approved to apply for a patent.

Intern Insight: Aida Hendrickson

internMy name is Aida Hendrickson, and I am a junior in Mechanical Engineering and treasurer of SWE at Louisiana State University (LSU). I spent this past summer working for Entergy, a company that provides power to parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Texas, at the Arkansas Nuclear One nuclear power plant in Russellville, Arkansas. I worked in the Support group of the System Engineering department. This means that I was working with engineers who are responsible for various plant system groups such as Air and Motor Operated Valves, Heat Exchangers, Ventilation, and my favorite: Diesel Generators. Perhaps I am biased to the Emergency Diesel Generators (EDGs) because that’s what I spent the most time on.

I spent the first two weeks of my internship training to hold access to the plant. Because I was working in a nuclear plant, there were many “Computer Based Training” modules I had to complete to fully understand the importance of safety as well as general plant processes. This did become monotonous, but very necessary. After I got my security badge, I was able to go into the plant. The first time going through security, I gave all of the guards a chuckle when I involuntarily let out a shriek when the air puffers blew on me. By the end of the summer, I was somewhat used to the airport-like security.

untitledMy day-to-day activities would vary depending on how busy the systems engineers were. If they were going into the plant to “walk down” their system, they would let me tag along. I kept my steel toed boots and thick socks (a must for work boots, trust me – I found mine in the men’s department) in my cubicle drawer along with my hard hat and other PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) so I was ready to go at any time. The EDGs were undergoing some maintenance this summer, so I was able to see those the most. I even got to see them run – which was awesome! Imagine a truck engine …except the size of a room!

My main project this summer was creating a database of Preventative Maintenance (PM) that was done on the diesel generators in Excel. I linked the PM to each component that it was completed on and then linked that to the technical drawings of the diesels. Along the way, I had many questions about how the diesels worked and why certain maintenance was done on them. At first, I was shy and did not want to bother the engineers. However, I had to keep reminding myself: “You are only here for three months! You have to get as much information from these experienced people as you can before you go back to school.” The other engineers were glad to answer any questions I had and even shared stories of their past experiences. I believe I was able to get the most out of my internship by asking questions and pushing myself to ask for more – like asking to stay late to see a troubleshooting process or participating in a Failure Analysis study.

University of Arkansas Outstanding Member: Isabelle Pumford

pic Isabelle is a senior electrical engineering student at the University of Arkansas. Her previous experiences include an internship after her freshman year at the VA Center for Prosthetic Engineering in Seattle, WA where she designed an assistive walking device for patients with osteoarthritis in their knees. After her sophomore year, Isabelle went to EPFL (Swiss Tech University) where she was a part of the Summer@EPFL program through the school of Computer Science and Communication Technology and worked to develop algorithms to find evolutionary connections between DNA sequences. This past summer she worked as a developer for Hewlett Packard Enterprise in Conway, Arkansas. She hopes to return to Europe to continue her studies with a masters in Communication Systems.

Isabelle was the Outreach Chair for the FY2016 Region C Conference hosted in Northwest Arkansas where she planned a “squishy circuits” activity for young students in the area.  She is now the Conference Planning Chair of the section and has arranged the funding for section sponsored members to attend the National and Regional conferences this year.  Through her role, the section is funding thirteen members who have received registration and will be receiving partial airfare reimbursements to attend the SWE Conference in Philadelphia, PA. Twelve of those members are also receiving free room nights while at the conference. Isabelle provides a great perspective to the section from her experiences, is highly motivated, and is always willing to help out.

First Wow! Innovative Challenge of FY17

Submissions for the first Wow! Innovative Challenge of FY17 are due by September 20, 2016. SWE wants to know how your section develops successful outreach events or programs for high school students. As a bonus the winning section/MAL will receive $500 and other benefits. Click on the link below for details and how to submit!


Intern Insight: Amanda Metzler

I am the new Region C Communications Editor and with summer ending I would like to post about some of the amazing internship opportunities our members have had this summer.  I will begin by sharing my internship experience and invite any of you who would like to share yours to send a write-up to and I will get you featured!

My name is Amanda Metzler and I just started my senior year as a chemical engineering student at Texas Tech University. This past summer I interned at CITGO Petroleum Corporation in Corpus Christi and I learned a lot from my first internship. I am sharing some of my experiences with you in the hopes that you can learn from them too!

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Events like “Intern Night” at a Corpus Christi Hooks baseball game make being an intern fun!

My work day, along with the seven other process engineering interns, started at 7 am with a safety meeting. These meetings were a daily reminder that safety should always be a priority. We covered topics ranging from the hazards of benzene to why you should stay off Pokemon GO while in the refinery. As for the rest of my day, I was left to work on my projects at my own pace, but was encouraged to seek help from engineers or anyone else in the company to complete them. That brings me to my favorite part of the internship; the people I worked with. Every engineer, operator, HR, and economics and planning employee that I interacted with was extremely pleasant, helpful, and welcoming. I have loved meeting and working with so many people. My tip to you is to make sure that when you meet a new person, memorize both their name and their position. It seems like such an obvious thing to do, but I can’t tell you how many times I only managed to remember one or the other! You never know what information you might need in the future, but knowing names and titles will help you find the right person to ask.

I have just a few more pieces of advice for you. If you are going into an industry in which you have no prior experience, I recommend doing a little reading beforehand so you are prepared. You’re not going to be an expert, but it helps to know a bit about what’s going on.  If you are going into the refining industry I would recommend reading “Petroleum Refining in Nontechnical Language”, or a similar book that gives an overview of the refining process. I know it helped me out a lot! Also, don’t be afraid to ask co-workers for resources; they want to help you be successful.  Another thing I would like to prepare you for is the large number of acronyms you will have to learn. This is the case at pretty much any job and the sooner you get them down, the sooner you will be able to follow along in conversations.  What I found to help me the most was keeping a list of acronyms and their meanings for easy reference. Once I did that, and referred to it about a trillion times, I finally started to get the hang of it. Please remember though, if at any time you have questions, just ask! Everyone was once starting off just like you and if they remember what it’s like at all, they will be willing to help you.

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Volunteering with CITGO was a great way to get to know coworkers while giving back.

I hope you found a few of my experiences and lessons learned helpful! If you had an outstanding or unique summer internship, I would love to hear about it and feature you in the Region C blog “Intern Insight” series! A variety of experiences would be great, so feel free to be creative. But in case you are stumped, some examples of things to include are a typical day on the job, what you have learned so far, and your favorite part of the internship. Don’t forget to include a picture too! Once I post your piece feel free to invite all of your friends to follow our blog and read your article!

I would like to give a special thanks to CITGO for putting on a great internship program!

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Getting to know the other interns was one of the best parts of the internship!

An Update from the FY16 Graduate Member Coordinator

Hi Region C Grad SWE!

Here’s an update from the Graduate Member Coordinator: Katharine Brumbaugh Gamble!

(1) Leadership Coaching Community looking for members

The Leadership Coaching Committee provides proactive leadership coaching to SWE organizational units, including sections, regions, and MALs.  Trained Leadership Coaches provide Society leadership with the coaching and support essential to maintaining healthy, vital, and growing section, region, and MAL organizations.  Training modules on various aspects of SWE operations, and/or necessary leadership and anagement skills for SWE success, are delivered to sections via local venues, delivered to sections and regions through the Region Conferences, and are delivered to all members of SWE at the Society Annual Conference. Leadership Coaches have prior SWE leadership experience which is essential in having the perspective needed to tackle section and region roadblocks and hurdles. Leadership Coaches can have either a professional or collegiate section focus.

There is especially a need for coaches in Regions F and G, as well as professional focused coaches in Region H.

If you are interested in being part of the Leadership Coaching Committee please contact your region lead or the FY16 LCC Chair Faith Chu at

(2) Help Engineering Transdisciplinary Outreach Project in the Arts

We are looking for some help (ushering, carpentry, hanging posters) with the new musical production. If you can’t help, but still want to see the show, by all means, admission is free!

“Mill Girls”

7:30 pm Sat, 2:00 pm Sun

April 30-May 1 + May 7-8

Ford Machine Shop

This is a new musical that is going to be performed under ETOPiA (Engineering Transdisciplinary Outreach Project in the Arts) at the end of April/ early May for 2 weekends in the Ford Machine Shop, called “Mill Girls”.  The story is about a group of young women in the 1840’s who leave home to work at the textile mills of Lowell, Massachusetts, and end up publishing a nationally famous literary magazine in their free time, and as industrialism takes off, end up creating the worker’s movement and push for equal rights for women.  The essence of the story is about women in industry and the role that they play in changing society to what we now recognize as the modern norm.

This is a workshop production with minimal set / costumes, with actors reading from the script.  The purpose of a workshop is to get audience feedback after each performance and change the show accordingly.  The version performed the 2nd weekend will actually have different songs / script from the first weekend!

If you are interested in getting involved to help, please respond to Prof. Wei at and we would be happy to provide more details.

(3) Looking to form virtual team of female engineers and scientists to solve NASA problems

Looking for collegiate or professional women with engineering or scientific backgrounds(or studying engineering). Basically NASA is looking for civilians to volunteer in contributing to projects that they are currently trying to solve. These projects involve the earth, mars, the space station, etc. You can work individually or in teams, virtually or at a local event. I was just hoping that with the help of your organization, I can try to organize a virtual team of women engineers or scientists who are interested in volunteering in this program. I also believe that it can be a great way to network as well. The application process is online and totally free and doesn’t take long for approval. Want to get involved? Contact Courtney Sanders –

(4) Nominate a grad student or grad group for the Spotlight!

There are so many Grad SWE groups and fantastic SWE graduate members accomplishing great things! The Grad Community Spotlight is meant to highlight the groups and members who personify SWE’s motto: Aspire, Advance, Achieve. Do you have someone or a Grad group you want to see recognized (you can nominate yourself!)? Fill out a short Google Form here:

(5) Book your WE16 room now!

Now is the time to start thinking about your plans for WE16.  You can book your hotel, sign up to be notified when conference registration is live, and more at