Our collaborations with the Bureau of Reclamation (USBR), in support of its mission to manage, develop, and protect water and related resources, represent some of the most diverse and technical projects on which our Research Associates work. Our cooperative agreement gives early career professionals and opportunity to engage in projects related to environmental education, ecological restoration, species preservation, fuels treatments, research and monitoring activities, as well as business, administrative, and other activities that provide critical support to program/specialist capacities, and species preservation.
The projects that our RAs work on have names like “Additive Manufacturing Investigation,” “Vault Heating Research and Design,” “Reservoir Sedimentation Data Mining,” “River Channel Mapping,” “Anchor Pull Out Testing,” “Abrasion Research,” “Coating System Testing and Hydraulic Model Construction,” “Experiments into How Voltage Amplitude Reduces Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy Noise,” and the like. And once one gets into the details of the work, the technical aspects can become extremely daunting to the layperson. But our Research Associates? Well, they relish the opportunity to dive into these details, through both fieldwork and laboratory research.
See? We told you it gets pretty technical.
Fortunately, Paulette generously agreed to answer a few questions for us in order to provide some clarity and a sense of both the contributions that she’s made to the GBI and the USBR’s mission, and the benefits that she’s received in the course of performing this work.
How would you describe the work you have been doing to a layperson?
GBI’s Research Associate Program provided me an opportunity to work for the Bureau of Reclamation. Working with the Water Treatment group at the Bureau has been a first-class experience. I was primarily involved with lab work where I was trained to operate and sample two bioreactor media columns. I also conducted research and helped design a bioremediation system that utilized plants to reclaim used media from the bioreactors. Working for the Bureau of Reclamation has been immensely fulfilling, and I have found consistent enjoyment in learning how to manage, develop, and protect our water resources.
What has been the most interesting part of your work? The most challenging?
I thoroughly enjoyed the projects I was involved with. I was exposed to a variety of projects where I was able to develop new laboratory techniques and research skills. The most challenging part of my internship was having to manage my internship while being a full-time chemical engineering student at the Colorado School of Mines. This challenge taught me how to optimize my work schedule.
How do you think you are developing, professionally or personally, as a result of this work?
Working for the Bureau of Reclamation has provided me with the mentorship that I needed for my professional development. Going from college to my career, as first-generation college student, has not been a straightforward path. Gaining real work experience has helped me in countless ways. Interpersonal interactions at work also helped strengthen my communication skills which allowed me to effectively communicate important project milestones.
How would you characterize your relationship with the partner?
My internship experience provided an inside look at what it means to be an engineer for the Bureau of Reclamation. The mission of the Bureau of Reclamation is to manage, develop, and protect water and related resources in an environmentally and economically sound manner in the interest of the American public. My relationship with the Bureau is to achieve our project goals within our mission statement.