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Co-ops and Internships

Royal DSM

Madhu Sekar, Biosystems Engineering

What was involved/what was your role during your internship or co-op?
During my co-op, I was involved in the Fermentation, Downstream Processing, and Purification of Omega-3s from algae. I worked at a Pilot Plant facility where we scaled processes up from R&D and scaled processes down from Production scale to troubleshoot any problems they experienced.

What was one of your favorite parts about completing this internship or co-op?
One of my favorite parts about completing this co-op was having the opportunity to create a business case for the implementation of new equipment in one of our production facilities. I was able to combine my technical skills with my interest in business and take over my own project.

How have you benefited from participating in this internship or co-op?
I benefitted from this co-op by having the opportunity to apply the skills that I learned in the classroom and in my undergraduate research. I found out about different things that interested me in industry and have now been able to take classes that pertain to those interests.

What specific skills (technical or professional) did you learn or develop during your internship or co-op? 
I learned about conditions for the fermentation of algae and about solvent extraction of biomass. I also learned about tools like Minitab for statistical analysis of data. I saw the way LEAN Six Sigma was utilized in the workplace and was able to work towards obtaining my Green Belt as well.

Why would you recommend internships or co-ops to other students?
I would recommend internships or co-ops to other students as a way to try out something new, especially if you aren't sure what you want to work in yet. I had no idea what I was interested in as a career before going on co-op. After working with DSM for a year, I have a better idea of what I want to do and have come back to school with a larger interest in the things I'm learning.