Summer 2017 Internship at Ameresco

BY: ZAHRA AHSAN, SUSTAINABILITY INTERNSHIP PROGRAM, 2017

My internship during the Summer of 2017 is based at a company called Ameresco, a leading developer of renewable energy projects that offers comprehensive solutions for maximizing energy efficiency.  The organization has offices throughout the United States and some international locations.  I am assigned at the Engineering intern division in Oakbrook, Illinois and work with four other interns on various projects. Some activities include reading through contracts, and preparing documents with activities and time frames for team members. I am assigned to another project where I work with other interns to maintain a spreadsheet with counts of structures that would need to go through the LED retrofit process. Throughout my time in the internship, I have not only enriched my knowledge about renewable energies and sustainable processes, but also became acquainted with business-related activities. For example, I was able to read through contracts and proposed schedule to understand the scope and timeline of deliverables on several projects.  This allowed me to get a complete picture of each project, identify dependencies between activities, and understand strategies for implementing tasks to meet deadlines.

In order to reduce the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical experience, engineers and project managers at the company try to bring interns to sites of projects they work on when opportunities arise.  I joined teams to survey several sites where solar panels would be installed on roofs. These hands on activities help me to understand opportunities and constraints in practical setting and assist me in performing tasks more effectively.

I feel that the new information that I am learning will benefit me as I undertake new initiatives. I have learned the benefit of being aware of the bigger picture while working on a smaller component. In the case of renewable energy and energy efficient industries, I believe  it is important to develop a long term comprehensive plan that incorporates all components of an integrated system.  Since budgetary constraint is one of the major hurdles in system or process upgrade initiatives for many organizations, it is important to develop a picture of long term benefits to acquire funds. As I expand my understanding of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other initiatives through Ameresco and the Office of Sustainability, I become even more motivated to continue to share what I have learned with others and promote a healthier environment.