Summer is here and it’s officially the season for summer internships. With so many college students trying relentlessly to intern for their ideal company, only a few get that opportunity. In the competitive job market where internship is becoming the first step to an ideal career, Jacob Staudhammer, one of our Energy Analysts at the Energy  Efficiency Center (EEC) at Oregon State University is one of those lucky few.

This summer, Jacob earned a 3-month long internship with ZeaChem, a biofuels company based in Boardman, Oregon. “ZeaChem is relatively a young company that creates cellulosic ethanol. They have a unique process that is designed to maximize yields in a way that most other cellulosic producers are unable to do,” said Jacob.

When asked about why this company caught his interest, Jacob said, “I am passionate about biofuels and bioenergy and would like to have a career in the industry of biofuels, so this internship is a great opportunity for me.” The only inconvenience he says is limited housing options in Boardman. “I am currently living 30 minutes away from the plant,” he said.

At ZeaChem, Jacob will be working in the pilot scale plant as a Lab Process Engineering intern. He will be working with several engineers and laboratory researchers in the areas of fermentation and enzymatic saccharification; both on a lab scale and at a pilot scale. He says, “There are a lot of students who have lab research experience but not many have both lab and industrial experience.”

Jacob is a senior with a major in bioengineering at the Oregon State University. He started working with the EEC as an Energy Analyst in November 2014. The best part about working with the EEC he says, was being able to go to a variety of industrial facilities and learning about different ways of producing products. “Each assessment trip was a learning experience as there was always something new to see and investigate,” he said. Jacob clearly has an edge in the market because in his opinion his hands on experience at the EEC has helped him stand out in the competition.

When asked about the similarities and the differences of the nature of his new job from that of at the EEC, he said, “at ZeaChem, I will be working on a wide range of tasks in industrial plant, so a lot of work that I did at the EEC will be useful but I will also be conducting research in the plant which I have never done at the EEC.”

Staudhammer will return to OSU in the fall after his internship. He plans to continue his current research on bioplastics and focus on his classes. When asked about his future career plans he said, “I would like to work in the biofuels sector after I graduate; ideally in an industrial setting as a process engineer. I plan to work in the industry for few years before returning to school to get my master’s degree.”

He wishes his friends at the EEC a happy summer!