Intern program helps companies become more efficient

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has identified 18 businesses that’ll be participating in this year’s Pollution Prevention intern program. DNR spokesperson, Danielle Dilks, says the program is part of their overall effort to help businesses reduce waste and meet their environmental goals.

“The companies come to us with projects they’d like to do, and some of these projects take more time than we could spend on site to do. But the companies are too short staffed to be able to address some of these things themselves,” Dilks says. “So the interns provide a designated point person on site to really analyze a system, find out what’s going on, find out where the inefficiencies are, and then research opportunities to make improvement.”

The projects involve a wide variety of issues faced by the companies. “They do a calculation of the existing costs and expenses of the system and what it would cost and the savings that they would have from making these improvements,” according to Dilks.

“The students are dong things like energy efficiencies, they might be doing heat-recovery projects, water treatment projects where they might be using less chemicals in the water or use less water in a process. Solid waste projects where they are reducing the amount of waste that is generated through production.”

The interns in the program are generally engineering students from Iowa colleges who have complete most of their advanced coursework and are just a semester or two from finding a job. Dilks says the program gives them some good practical experience to add to the resume.

“We really encourage the interns to take this to the depth that most projects don’t go to, few internships will take a project to the depth that these students do,” Dilks says. “They’re asked to really research and give the company some good information that they can go back and check the numbers, make decisions and then go ahead with implementation.”

Dilks encourages businesses to take a look at the program and see if there is a project they could submit. “The big thing that I would like companies know is that we have a variety of services and technical assistance that we can offer to them in helping them identify these. The program is confidential. Anything that we look at or anything that we see cannot be discussed. It’s all confidential, protected by Iowa code,” Dilks says.

The program began in 2001 and the DNR says it has help over 155 companies, hospitals, universities and government agencies save over 69-million dollars.

The following organizations were chosen for the 2013 program: Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, CNH Burlington, Eaton Corporation, Golden Crisp Premium Foods, Grinnell College, Grundy County Memorial Hospital, Hormel Foods, Infastech Decorah LLC, Iowa Health – Des Moines, JELD-WEN Windows, John Deere Davenport Works, Johnson Controls Inc., Pfizer Animal Health, Sauer Danfoss, Tyson Deli Inc., West Liberty Foods, Western Iowa Tech Community College, Winnebago Industries. Find out more information on the Pollution Prevention Intern Programs for 2013 at: www.iowap2services.com