Internships: Exploring the possibilities
Junior mechanical engineer Emma Baker has completed two internships since starting at Rice. After her freshman year, she spent the summer working for Arup and the summer between her sophomore and junior years, she worked for Trumbull Unmanned.
“I feel really fortunate to have had both learning opportunities, and each experience came at the perfect time in my growth as an engineering student at Rice,” she said. “At Arup, I got exposure to a broad range of engineering projects and services across a variety of industries, which was ideal for a first-year engineering student.”
Arup is a global engineering consulting firm. While there, Baker worked on the Texas High Speed Rail project, conducting noise and vibration assessments, determining how the ambitious railway from Houston to Dallas would impact homes and businesses. She also helped consultants on a project the firm did for a University in Ohio, mapping where the school’s geothermal energy systems should go.
“The learning experience at Arup went way beyond engineering knowledge. I learned how to work with a team of highly experienced engineers from all disciplines, how to communicate with these seasoned professionals, and how to be a valuable team member,” she said. “It was an incredible learning environment in so many ways.”
At Trumbull, a Houston-based firm that creates and implements unmanned technology systems, she analyzed different drones, investigating the crafts’ specifications and capabilities, to help clients determine which solution would best meet their needs. “When I got to Trumbull, I had another year of engineering coursework and leadership training behind me, which gave me the confidence to work in a more entrepreneurial environment,” said Baker.
“Trumbull was a much more autonomous and less structured experience,” she said, “so I learned a lot about how to work independently, manage my time, and be innovative—all things my two years of RCEL (Rice Center for Engineering Leadership) training helped with.”
For Baker, experiencing the differences between a large established firm and a small company in a fast-growing field gave her an inside view of how mechanical engineering looks in industry, one that will ultimately help her determine which fit is right for her.
Baker said that she loves engineering, but she’s also interested in the way business works, another reason she enjoyed the opportunities she had with Arup and Trumbull. She landed her first internship by networking with friends and family and the second, she found through the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership.
Next summer, she’s hopeful she’ll have yet another internship, and although NASA is her dream job, she is open to anything. Baker encourages underclassmen to pursue any opportunities out there that interest them, noting it’s never too early to start.
A speaker at the RCEL Liftoff event for entering freshmen, Baker said many of the students seemed surprised that these types of early-college career internships are available to them. “My advice was that they should go for it, but keep an open mind. You might not find exactly what you’re looking for, but the experience might prove to be invaluable.”
– Holly Beretto, Engineering Communications