My internship at Western Area Power Administration in Loveland, Colorado has been an incredible learning experience and I am so glad and grateful to have been chosen as a returning intern. Currently I am a junior majoring in Civil Engineering at California State University, Sacramento. This is my second summer interning at WAPA through MIESPP. My highly interest and desire in acquiring knowledge and skills used in the field of engineering are the reasons to why I applied to MIESPP. WAPA Rocky Mountain Region plays a great role within the electrical balancing authorities. In a nut shell WAPA’s job is to maintain or build any high tension transmission lines and substations within the region in order to fulfill the customers’ needs. RMR makes sure that the distribution companies receive the correct electrical loads and are charged accordingly. It produces 2.3 billion kilowatt-hour of hydroelectric power from 19 different plants which are sold to distribution customers in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Kansas.
Throughout my four weeks here at WAPA I have been assigned various tasks. My first assignment was a 5 million dollar project closeout. When I received this assignment I was a bit intimidated, but my mentor’s words gave me reassurance “Ketty, I know you can do this”. I had to review last summer’s notes and within a week the assignment was complete. (A project closeout is a mandatory report that must be done whenever anything is built, refurbished, or purchased. This official document states the assets owned by Western and those owned by the customers. This report includes a detail description of all of the labor, purchased equipment, accumulated interest, and any other miscellaneous expenses accumulated throughout the project. After I complete the project closeout it is then reviewed by the project engineer, and then this document is sent to the maintenance department where they enter the information to a database. This structured set of data is used throughout the life expand of the asset. It estimates the life expectancy of the equipment and allows the maintenance crew to know when they equipment needs to be checked or maintained. The report then is sent to the accounting group and there they input the monetary value of the assets into a database).
My second, assignment was given to me by a Civil Engineer; it consisted of performing basic calculations required to leveling the ground for a foundation and a drainage ditch for a new maintenance garage. In this project I have applied my land surveying skills learned in school. This building has various phases and I will continue to work alongside the civil engineer in-charge of the project until the end of my internship. Alongside the leveling project, I was also exposed to a concrete mixture design review. I read for about a week and learned about cement types, compressive strengths, water-cement ratio, admixtures, fly ash, alongside other cement related topics. I discovered that I am fascinated by concrete and felt very fortunate to be working with an experienced engineer who interned in the construction of the Hoover Dam Colorado River Bridge. Completing this mix design specification was a great accomplishment and at the same time I tapped into a very important part of my field of studies, (concrete). Four weeks ago all I knew about concrete was that it came in bags and we used it all the time, that’s not the case now.
Recently I was reassigned to a different position; I am currently working on real time SCADA data in the operations office. My task there is to analyze next day’s voltage limits on various transmission lines. I am also seeing how power outages can affect a particular transmission line. Being able to see and work with the power grids life data is an unforgettable experience; it just reminds me of how fortunate I am to be here.
MIESPP’s internships have exposed me to the real world of an engineer through which I have enhanced my educational background, communication, creativity, learning, and interpersonal skills. This trainee program has strengthened me as a student in a professional environment; I have gained and continue to gain so much knowledge and experience. I am definitely looking forward to the rest of my internship, thank you MIESPP for this amazing opportunity.