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Arkema internship helps local hospital go green

By Julie Ooms

Dordt College senior engineering major Amanda Arkema had turned down some mission opportunities last summer before she secured a summer internship in Orange City Area Health System (OCAHS), working in environmental engineering. Both missions and environmental engineering are areas in which she hopes to pursue a career. Arkema’s internship was made possible because OCAHS participated in the Pollution Prevention Intern Program sponsored by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Arkema worked as a link between the Orange City Hospital and a company called Waters Hot Inc. Waters Hot was engineering a system to capture heat lost to the environment and use it as an energy source for heating other things, like water.

“I learned a lot,” she says, “and studying heat transfer this semester is much easier now!”

Over the summer, Arkema also devised ways to decrease Styrofoam use in the hospital’s Puddlejumper Grille and helped develop a recycling program for the hospital. But the most successful project she worked on, Arkema says, was putting a Green Team into place.

“A Green Team will help keep the hospital more environmentally sound,” Arkema says. “It’s especially important for a hospital to be concerned about how it handles recycling and other environmental concerns, because people regain health more quickly if they’re in a good environment.” The Green Team is in place and working.

Arkema feels that the work she did was important, not only for her career goals but also for her perspective as a Christian engineer.

“My internship drew attention to things we often take for granted and don’t really consider, like lost heat,” she says. “I learned to think about where that energy came from and where it’s going.” Arkema hopes to do mission work in engineering sometime after graduation, and she believes her internship experience helped her prepare for that.

“If you start considering things holistically, you think about where energy and resources come from and where you want—and don’t want—them to end up.” She feels better equipped to do the same sort of work in, say, a Third World country, where she can help people use their resources well.