Kari Andrist Bloomington, Minn. / 22 Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering BS, 2014 University of Minnesota Assistant Environmental Engineer Burns & McDonnell, Bloomington, Minn. During my last two undergrad years, I worked at 3M as a product responsibility liaison technical aide. My job focused on the regulatory side of engineering; I worked with research engineers, keeping tracking of necessary regulatory documentation for chemicals and products under development. Additionally, I spent my senior year working as a research assistant in the Air Quality Lab at the University of Minnesota. I aided research on two main projects regarding air quality in the livestock industry. For one project, I tested a new biological filter medium—a mix of corncobs and shale—to treat air from barns. Another project addressed pit foaming in deep pits at swine barns, which has contributed to a number of explosions in recent years. My primary roles included sample collection, running various tests on the samples, and assisting in the development of a standard operating procedure for future sample testing. Though very busy my senior year, I spent countless hours browsing the web for job openings. I was fortunate to stumble upon a job posting for the environmental position at Burns & McDonnell I now hold. For this position, I spend a considerable amount of time on sites performing construction management services for various projects during summer months when construction is in full swing. In the winter, most days are spent at my desk, working primarily on projects in the solid waste industry. Many of these projects are based at landfills or recycling facilities. Recently, I’ve focused on landfill hydrology, including leachate treatment and the handling of stormwater runoff. I have also assisted with a number of recycling rate studies, including work for the states of Texas and Minnesota. Solid waste is not an industry most people initially want to get involved with—myself included! I had no interest in this area during college, and I was surprised to find myself diving into it on my first job. So far, I’ve been involved in a number of challenging, interesting projects. One of my favorites was the recycling rate study for Minnesota. I was involved from start to finish, and it was very satisfying, after months of hard work, to see the final product successfully out the door. My time at 3M gave me a solid background in regulatory work and basic knowledge of working with regulatory agencies. I’ve found that internship experience is useful, time and again, as many of my projects involve work with regulatory agencies. In the future, I would love to get involved with remediation work. My passion has always been on “the water side” of environmental work—groundwater in particular. Hopefully, I will be able to focus on that during my upcoming master’s program in civil engineering.
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