Penn State at The Navy Yard offers immersive energy sustainability program

Students from the Energy Innovation Leadership Experience program at Penn State at The Navy Yard

Students from this year's Energy Innovation Leadership Experience. 14 undergraduate and graduate students interned with local energy companies including PECO, Comcast, and GE. They also took independent study courses focused on sustainable energy.

Credit: Penn State

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Graduate and undergraduate students learned more about energy sustainability and connected with leaders in the industry through a unique summer offering at Penn State at The Navy Yard.

The Energy Innovation Leadership Experience, or EILE for short, allows engineering students to learn directly from leaders in the energy sustainability industry including PECO, Comcast and GE. This year’s program ran from May 16 through Aug. 8.

This year 14 interns were selected, representing North Carolina State University, the University of Wisconsin, and several Penn State campuses, including University Park and Penn State Great Valley.

Students interned with local energy companies such as Square K, Intellimation, Burns Engineering, and OSIsoft. Several of the students also took independent study classes focused on various aspects of sustainable energy in the built environment.

In addition to a great networking opportunity, the students gained real-world experience with cutting-edge energy technology, working with microgrids in Penn State’s buildings and throughout The Navy Yard.

“At the end of this program, I think I’ll have learned more in these short three months than I have in the past two years of school,” said Mark Gibson, a rising junior at University Park who’s interning with Comcast. “In this profession, there are a million more things you can learn from actual experience than you’ll ever be able to get out of a textbook.”

Nisha Labroo, also a rising junior at University Park, echoed these sentiments.

“I’ve learned that the real-life applications of what we're being taught in school are actually fascinating,” she said. “I also found that there's so much I don't know yet, and I look forward to learning more on the job.”

The program is not just beneficial for students. Some of the companies that partner with the program can experiment with new energy technology before implementing it into regular use.

“Penn State’s facilities at the Navy Yard are like a living laboratory for new energy technology. It’s an opportunity to do things that we as a utility would take a lot longer to do because of regulation," said Eric Stein, research and development manager at PECO. "We’ve been able to pursue a lot of these new technologies quicker and with a lot less expense."

EILE has also helped interns launch their career in the energy industry. For example, PECO hired two student interns from 2017.

Energy Innovation Leadership Experience students presented their experiences during a poster

This summer's program culminated in a poster reception where students shared their experiences with employers, friends, family, and guests.

Credit: Cat Mesure

This year’s program culminated in a reception where interns presented their projects in a poster session for other employers, interns, family and friends.

The program’s principal investigator and developer is David Riley, professor of architectural engineering, and is led by the Architectural Engineering research team located at Penn State at The Navy Yard. The location is uniquely suited to match interns with employers implementing sustainable energy solutions.

Enrollment for 2019’s EILE summer program begins this coming Fall 2018 semester. More information is available on the Penn State at The Navy Yard website.