Student's Summer Internship Extended into the School Year

Bridget Powers Beggs

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, junior Bridget Powers Beggs made such an impact during her Summer 2020 internship at National Grid that the multinational utility company offered her a part-time job during the school year.

Powers Beggs, who interned in the grid modernization department, was responsible for adding new information to National Grid’s Excel-based Benefits-Cost-Analysis model, which makes the business case that benefits are essential and cost effective.  While working on the model, Powers Beggs and her supervisor would calculate the benefits of the grid modernization initiatives and compare them to the costs, sometimes updating these calculations based on feedback or adding a new calculation if a new benefit or cost was discovered.  Powers Beggs would often create technical reports and presentations to share with National Grid Staff.

In addition to working on the investment grid, Powers Beggs helped design a new excel format to make Benefit Cost Analysis models easier to understand.  She was also part of a “case study” project, where she worked with other interns to recommend a direction for a business priority and interviewed employees around the company on the subject.

Powers Beggs particularly enjoyed meeting with National Grid’s employees and her fellow interns.  “(At meetings) I would get to learn about the decision-making process going into how to modernize the grid with new technology, the benefits and realistic capabilities of the technology, and so on.”  

In mid-summer, Powers Beggs was offered the opportunity to extend the internship into the school year and to return in Summer 2021.  She hopes in Summer 2021, she can go to National Grid’s offices in Syracuse, New York.

Powers Beggs applied to and received the internship in Fall 2019.

A Spokane, Wash. native, Powers Beggs was first introduced to materials science and engineering in high school, when she had to pick a topic out of a book of engineering concepts for an extra credit project. She picked Young’s Modulus and the stress-strain curve and was “utterly fascinated” by the different properties that materials have. “At its core, I am interested in materials science and engineering because I love understanding how things work, and want to apply that knowledge towards improving the world,” she said.

Once she learned more about materials science, Powers Beggs knew she wanted to go to a smaller school with a materials department, but one where she could also take liberal arts classes and play her French horn in the concert band.  She discovered CWRU in a unique way: “CWRU first stood out to me in 8th grade when I was first looking up colleges on the internet because I was reading a book in english class that was all about the power of coincidences, and where the protagonist happened to live on “Euclid,” and so when I saw that CWRU was on Euclid Avenue I had a feeling it might be the school for me. I knew I wanted to attend for sure when I visited campus and just had the sense that there was tons of opportunity here despite it being a small school.”

Another one of Powers Beggs’ key scientific interests is “increasing the efficiency of power generation and improving the quality of energy storage.”  She hopes to pursue a career in the energy industry as an engineer or a lawyer after graduation.  “I am interested in exactly the kind of work I did this summer, which combines public policy, engineering, and strategic business planning.”

During her time at CWRU, Powers Beggs has served as President of Humanitarian Design Corps/Engineers Without Borders. “We have implemented a lot of great initiatives for improving project management, the documentation process, and the member experience, which have the net effect of increasing the quality of experiential education our club members get and better serving the communities we work with on sustainable water and power projects,” she said. 

She has also worked with other students to found STARS Sensors, LLC.  STARS has made progress toward commercializing sensors since its founding, but Powers Beggs is more proud of what she has learned about entrepreneurship and the relationships she has formed with the other co-founders.