Power to the students

A female and male student check out a wall of large silvery pipes.

If mapping out water and steam tunnels doesn’t sound like fun, you haven’t talked to Abby Diekmann, an intern with the University’s Energy Management team who has spent a lot of time 70 feet below the University.

Now a junior mechanical engineering major, Diekmann started working with Energy Management last year. She makes measurements crucial to contractors who improve University infrastructure, and they have already used one of her drawings in their project proposals. 

“Every project that I’ve worked on here, whether it’s just making an Excel file easier to update or just working on our graphics programs to display the systems a little more nicely, I feel like I'm making a difference,” she says.

It’s hard to imagine campus life without the Energy Management team. They’re the folks who make and distribute our chilled water, steam, and electricity. Its engineers ensure the functioning of all campus buildings and also oversee the water, sanitary, and sewer needs. And its student interns, who have been helping run these systems since 2000, learn a plethora of marketable skills that translate to good jobs in the real world.

Says Energy Management Director Jerome Malmquist: “They understand how to walk up to a CAD [computer-aided design and drafting] machine and do the layouts, how to go through engineering handbooks and pick the right kind of materials, and how to use GIS [geographic information system] and maintenance systems. They’ve seen it, they’ve done it, and they’re prepared.”

A unit of Facilities Management, Energy Management has hired its 105th student and mostly employs students from the College of Science and Engineering. Seven of its current full-time employees got their start as interns.

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities