It’s not often that you hear of a high school student working as a summer intern, much less as an intern at a global engineering corporation.
Brandon Misher, a senior at Hazelwood West High School, is an intern at Black & Veatch. He works in the Water division in an office in Chesterfield, Mo. The internship started in late May after an application and interview process.
The internship is for students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines such as Project Lead The Way (PLTW). It introduces students to working in an engineering consulting and design office with encouragement to enter the water industry as a consulting engineering.
Tom Ratzki, vice president, water, said Black & Veatch approached Hazelwood School District with the idea of a summer intern because of a field trip he took part in two years ago. He worked with Gail Stewart, HSD learning facilitator, who coordinated a field trip for middle school students in the Gateway Academy summer program. The students went to the Cold Water Waste Treatment facility to learn how engineering impacts daily life. Black & Veatch also supports PLTW.
Misher is working with civil engineers and has learned a lot.
“I’ve learned to understand drawings much better. I’ve used Google Earth to mark locations for future projects. And I toured a waste water plant, and that was a good experience,” he said.
“The internship provides the opportunity to experience construction projects. Brandon has helped a little bit with preparing proposals for clients to convince them to hire our firm for projects,” said Ratzki.
For example, one project is to add disinfection to an area waste water treatment facility.
“The state of Missouri requires disinfection at all waste water treatment plants by December 2013, based on the Clean Water Act of 1972,” said Ratzki.
Misher’s interest in engineering started in eighth grade in his first Gateway To Technology class, a PLTW program. He learned that “engineers will be needed in the future.” In 10th grade, he started taking more PLTW classes. He has an uncle who lives in California and works as a civil engineer.
“It’s something I’d like to do,” Misher said of becoming a civil engineer. “I’d like to work outside on job sites, but also work in an office.
“At Black & Veatch, it’s a team. Everyone has to work together. I like to work with people, not just be on my own,” he continued.
Misher is involved in DECA, plays drums at his church and is a wide receiver on the HWHS Wildcat football team. Now that football practice and camps have started, his days are a little longer. He gets up early in the morning, goes to practice, goes back home to get cleaned up, and then drives to the office for his internship.
“The support from my family, my friends, my coaches and Black & Veatch has been great. With practice, it’s been a little tough,” said Misher.
However, he’s already looking toward the future.
“I wish I could hurry up and finish college to come back and work for them,” he said. He is interested in Missouri University of Science and Technology and the University of Missouri.
Ratzki explained another purpose for the internship – to increase diversity within engineering.
As a committee was discussing the possibility of the internship, it started with recruiting college students. The idea then turned to a younger, minority student with an interest in engineering. Influencing minority students while in high school could impact their college major, and eventually lead to more diversity among college interns and professionals.
“The concept proved itself,” said Ratzki. “With the right type of work and variety to keep it interesting, we can increase interest for students. It was a risk, but for the right reasons. The water and waste water field is in need of engineers overall, as well as minority engineers.
“One of the questions we ask is ‘Does your workforce look like the community?’”
“We were looking for someone who would fit in, who could work in a team environment, is eager and would come in with smile, able to do the work. We knew they wouldn’t know everything, but would have a good foundation and would make an effort,” said Ratzki.
Misher will complete his internship on August 10, just days before school starts on August 13.
Brandon Misher, a senior at HWHS, reviews drawings for an engineering project. He is an intern
at Black & Veatch, a global engineering firm, in the Chesterfield, Mo. office.