Science, technology, engineering and math, also known as STEM areas, are increasingly related to our everyday lives, including the products we buy, services we use and careers that will be available. In fact, STEM careers are predicted to make up 80% of future jobs. With this foresight and commitment to the local community, Torrey Pines Institute’s summer internship program hosted 13 local high school and college students with hands-on, STEM-related internships, including biology and chemistry (science), computational engineering (technology), facility management (engineering), and biostatistics (math).
Ten of the internships were based in the science areas of biology and chemistry, where interns studied under renowned scientists. Biological and chemical methods were taught and applied, such as liquid phase chemistry and western blot techniques. “As an intern, you are given similar responsibilities as the scientists working in the lab,” stated Lisa Tack, a molecular biology major at IRSC. “You walk through the protocols, then run experiments on your own, asking questions of your colleagues as needed, and then present your data at weekly lab meetings. I greatly valued this unique experience”.
One of the internships focused on technology through computational chemistry, a branch of chemistry that uses principles of computer science to assist in solving chemical problems. “Throughout my internship, I mostly worked with computational engineering,” stated Mihael Cudic, a high school student. “I needed to create programs using programming languages like Perl and Java to achieve certain outcomes efficiently. I also worked with chemistry to create and change peptide structures to test certain variables.”
This year’s internship program hosted the first engineering intern, Claudio Gonzalez, a recent graduate of Vero Beach High School who recently chose University of Central Florida’s engineering program. Claudio was unsure what major he was going to pursue in college, but after his internship, he has chosen to pursue mechanical engineering. “This internship gave me a clear view of what engineering is and the mechanical side of building maintenance,” he stated. “This internship helped me choose the field of mechanical engineering and I plan on completing my major at UCF’s engineering program.”
The mathematics internship was fulfilled by Sameer Kailasa, a high school student who is interested in applied mathematics, biostatistics and cheminformatics. “My internship involved work with math, statistics, and computer science and provided an opportunity to gain exposure to different types of research before heading off to college and choosing my major.”