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Adventures in Engineering

Honors Engineering students pursue challenging summer internships

Nearly half of all Ogden Honors College students are majoring in STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math) disciplines, and fully a quarter of our students are enrolled in LSU’s College of Engineering. But what happens when we unleash these budding engineers into the wider world at the end of the spring semester? We recently sat down with three Honors Engineering women to find out more about the wide variety of engineering work and internships they’re undertaking this summer. 

Kristen Barrettbarrett

Junior, Computer Science

Business Application Development Intern, International Paper, Memphis, TN 

Rising Ogden Honors and College of Engineering junior Kristen Barrett has spent her summer in Memphis, TN, where she’s been interning full-time at International Paper. It may sound counterintuitive for a computer science major with a software engineering concentration to be working at a paper company, but Barrett has spent the last two months building consumer-friendly business applications for the company. She’s been coding in ABAP (Advanced Business Application Programming), the programming language used to create apps in SAP, a German enterprise software platform. “This work gave me a taste of what a computer science career would be like, and what it’s like to program and develop software full-time,” Barrett said. “We dealt with a lot of client-side applications, and this spoke to my research at LSU— I’ve been researching software usability. It’s important to understand what consumers will find easy to use.”

Barrett was originally connected to the internship through LSU alums currently working at International Paper, who came to campus to represent the company at a career fair last fall. She applied for the internship because, as she said, “I hoped to gain more experience and knowledge in computer science, and in business and networking skills, and I certainly did!” Barrett hopes to pursue a graduate degree in computer science after graduation. “Having a full-time job where I use the logical skills and the critical thinking skills that Honors classes have helped me to develop,” she said, “has allowed me to get a better sense of what I want from my future.”


Lexie Breauxlexie.breaux

Senior, Chemical Engineering

Intern at ProSys, Baton Rouge, LA

Lexie Breaux is about to be an Ogden Honors senior, and has wisely spent her summer break preparing for life after graduation from LSU next year. She’s been interning full-time at ProSys, a local engineering firm that specializes in process control software and consulting. “I work 40-hour weeks, which is pretty cool, considering that this is how life will be for me after I graduate next May!” Breaux said. She hopes to continue working with alarm management and controls in her future career, and noted that this internship allowed her to “experience the practical, ‘hands-on’ side of all the knowledge I’ve learned in my engineering classes.”

Over the summer Breaux tackled an alarm rationalization project for a large Baton Rouge refinery. She worked closely with another ProSys team member (and LSU alum) to study and adjust the refinery’s process feedback and related alarms. “Alarm rationalization helps to manage the control system of a unit, and helps to maintain safe operations,” Breaux explained. “Every process variable in the unit has to be examined, and the engineers determine where and when the alarms are needed. It’s similar to solving a logic puzzle.”

She first learned of her ProSys internship through the LSU Olinde Career Center and their Careers2Geaux portal—both resources that had been originally pointed out to her by a fellow Ogden Honors student. “I am an Honors College Advocate and I volunteer every summer to work Honors Welcome week,” Breaux explained. “The first year I did, I met an Honors upperclassman who gave me advice on Engineering and Honors classes, career fairs, and internships. Making connections through the Honors College has been a really great benefit to my college experience.” 

Tess Ellendertess.ell

Junior, Industrial Engineering

Head Team Advisor, National Student Leadership Conference on Engineering, Yale University, New Haven, CT

Tess Ellender has spent her summer sharing her passion for engineering with others—specifically high school students—through her work as a Head Team Advisor at the National Student Leadership Conference on Engineering (NSLC). NSLC offers summer programs in a variety of disciplines to outstanding high school students; the programs are designed to help students develop leadership skills and explore potential future careers. Ellender’s day-to-day responsibilities as head advisor for the NSLC’s engineering program include teaching students soldering, programming and computer-aided design (CAD); assisting students on their design projects, such as building trebuchets and sea perches (an underwater robotic vehicle developed by MIT); supervising other team advisors; and coordinating guest speakers. “This position has enabled me to network with many engineering professionals,” Ellender said. “I’m hoping to gain both leadership and management experience.”

Ellender wants the students around her to get something out of her internship, too. “I hope to inspire high school students to follow their dreams,” she continued. “I hope to help them choose a specific engineering major, and help them along their journey through high school, and into college. If they decide from this that engineering is not the path they want to follow, that’s okay too."

Ellender’s career plans include a long-held dream of working for Walt Disney World. “It’s such a gold-mine of industrial engineering challenges,” she explained. “I feel like I can really apply what I’ve learned in this leadership role at NSLC to jobs in the future.”

“I think the Honors College experience will help me, too,” she concluded. “Being in the Honors College has led me to do my own research and discovery, and it will help me stand out in a sea of applicants to such a large company.”


For more on what Ogden Honors are up to this summer, search for the #LSUmmer hashtag on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram