November 10, 2010

Some students wonder if the lessons they learn in the classroom will serve them well after graduation. One LSU senior chose to put her engineering classes to the test by interning this summer for Bayer Corp Science in Amatitlan, Guatemala to work in a quality control laboratory.

Because she is an international student, Rebecca Mejia was unable to find an internship in the United States, thus prompting her to look outside of the country. She found a wonderful opportunity in Guatemala. The internship lasted through the first half of her summer, but Mejia says she enjoyed working with Bayer because they focus on pharmaceuticals, a field she is interested in working in after graduation. Mejia exclaims, “Working in Guatemala was an incredible experience and a wonderful way to kick off my senior year here at LSU!”

Mejia, a native of Honduras, is studying chemical engineering with a double minor in chemistry and business. Though the internship was not obligatory, Mejia claims, “employers value experience when deciding who they are going to hire, so I wanted to make sure to gain practical knowledge before graduating.” Funding for Mejia’s trip was assisted through a scholarship from Halliburton, a company that rewards engineering students participating in internships outside of the United States. 

During Mejia’s internship she was introduced to different products that the specific plant produced. She also learned about the different parameters in order to determine varying PH quality levels and other aspects of the products. “I was able to use some of the engineering principles taught in class, but work is very different from the theory my professors often teach me,” Mejia explains, “The internship was great because I was actually able to apply some of those theories and finally understand what my engineering professors were talking about!” 

In Guatemala, Mejia also found time for civic engagement.  While working at the plant, Mejia noticed that a majority of the employees did not speak English.  After discussing it with her supervisor, she began using some of her time to teach those around her English.  “I taught a class every day for about half an hour and distributed quizzes to the students each week to assure their learning development” explains Mejia.

Though Mejia was working to gain a better understanding of engineering, she was also able to give back to the community who was teaching her so much.  “I received positive feedback from the class and my experience at the plant was superb,” Mejia recounts, “It felt really good to be able to help those individuals at the plant learn English who had taught me so much about engineering.”

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Article by Crystal Jackson, LSU College of Engineering,, 225-578-5706

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