Like a lot of his peers, Hazelwood West High School senior Brandon Misher is already working toward the future. But unlike most seniors, Misher is working at a global engineering corporation as an intern this summer.
After going through a rigorous application and interview process, Misher began the internship at Black & Veatch in May. He’s working in the Water division in the Chesterfield office.
The internship is geared at students engaged in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines, such as Project Lead the Way (PLTW).
Student interns are given an introduction into what it means to work in an engineering consulting and design office and given encouragement to enter the water industry as a consulting engineer.
“The internship provides the opportunity to experience construction projects.” said Tom Ratzki, Black & Veatch’s vice president of Water. “Brandon has helped a little bit with preparing proposals for clients to convince them to hire our firm for projects.”
Ratzki said that Black & Veatch approached the Hazelwood district with the idea of a summer intern after he took part in a field trip for middle school students in the Gatteway Academy summer program two years ago.
Along with HSD learning facilitator Gail Stewart, Ratzki joined the students on a trip to the Cold Water Waste treatment facility to learn how engineering impacts daily life, he said.
Misher said he’s learned a lot from the civil engineers he’s working with during the internship.
“I’ve learned to understand drawings much better,” he said. “I’ve used Google Earth to mark locations for future projects. And I toured a waste water plant, and that was a good experience.”
One of the projects Misher has been helping with will add disinfection to an area waste water treatment facility, Ratzki said.
“The state of Missouri requires disinfection at all waste water treatment plants by December 2013, based on the Clean Water Act of 1972,” he added.
Meet Brandon Misher
His interest in engineering has been growing since eighth grade, Misher said, when he took his first Gateway to Technology class, a PLTW program, also supported by Black & Veatch. That taught him that “engineers will be needed in the future.”
“It’s something I’d like to do,” Misher said of becoming a civil engineer. “I’d like to work outside on job sites, but also work in an office.
“At Black & Veatch, it’s a team. Everyone has to work together. I like to work with people, not just be on my own,” he continued.
Misher is also involved in several other activities, including DECA, playing drums at his church and playing on the HWHS football team as a wide receiver. He said that since football practice and camps have started, his days are a bit longer. After going to practice early in the morning, he gets cleaned up and drives back to the office for his internship.
“The support from my family, my friends, my coaches and Black & Veatch has been great. With practice, it’s been a little tough,” said Misher. “I wish I could hurry up and finish college to come back and work for them.”
Misher has his eye on a couple of different area universities, including Missouri University of Science and Technology and the University of Missouri.
Increasing Diversity in Engineering
Ratzki said that increasing diversity within engineering was another reason for the internship.
When the committee was discussing the possibility of the internship, it originally planned to recruit college students—but soon, the idea changed course to target younger minority students who had interest in engineering.
The committee hopes that by influencing minority students in high school, more will choose to major in engineering in college, eventually leading to more diversity among college interns and professionals in the industry.
“The concept proved itself,” said Ratzki. “With the right type of work and variety to keep it interesting, we can increase interest for students. It was a risk, but for the right reasons. The water and waste water field is in need of engineers overall, as well as minority engineers."
“One of the questions we ask is ‘Does your workforce look like the community?’,” he said, adding that the committee looked for someone who could do the work in a team environment and who would be happy to do so. “We knew they wouldn’t know everything, but would have a good foundation and would make an effort.”
Misher will complete his internship on August 10, just days before school starts on August 13.