EcoBCG was a pioneer in environmental sustainability long before its current CEO Sergio Castillo took over after his father. With a high demand for energy and water use efficiency services, this small engineering firm has seen substantial growth.

“This year, we’re one of the top 5,000 growing companies in the U.S. and there’s only two engineering companies on that list besides us,” Castillo said proudly.

To keep up with their expansion while maintaining a certain level of quality, Castillo and his team rely on internships as a source for incoming talent that they can confidently train and depend upon.

“What we do is very complex,” Castillo explained. “In fact, one of our main businesses is thermodynamics. Well, you don’t have an engineering degree in thermodynamics, that’s something you learn on the job. So, it’s very important to vet students and know their interests in those areas. The other thing is, you don’t find a lot of engineers with that experience. So, for us, an internship allows us that opportunity to get to know the student better so we can then mold them into a fulltime engineer. And that works very well for us.”

Creativity and curiosity
When it comes to selecting an ideal candidate, soft skills are equally important as someone’s technical prowess.

“A lot of our staff are working from home or working internationally, so that requires a lot of teamwork and great communication skills,” Castillo said. “Because when you have engineers working together all over the country, communication becomes really critical. If they’re working from home, they need to have discipline and know how to be proactive. We look for individuals who have those skills imbedded in them.”

A candidate that demonstrates a certain level of creativity is also high on their list. “When we go into an assessment of these big corporations, the whole idea is to identify areas of opportunity, and that comes with a lot of creativity,” Castillo explained.

“We also want to know what they’re curious about,” added EcoBCG’s Director of Engineering David Guzman. “That will give us clues about what they have a knack for, what they have experience in and how that can be translated into what they can do in their internships.”

Put your knowledge to the test
Mechanical Engineering Major Trenton Nix found his knack at St. Cloud State University after changing majors from aerospace engineering. “There’s no shortage of jobs in the engineering field. It’s a bright future, that’s for sure.” Nix said confidently.  

Nix got the opportunity to apply his mechanical engineering abilities with EcoBCG after finding the internship through the SciTech Program.

“I thought SciTech was amazing,” Nix said. “I looked through other job placements on campus and SciTech was the most direct. It was just one-after-another of internships that applied directly towards what I was doing in school and definitely the most possibilities for internships in my area.”

Nix started at EcoBCG with a research project, reaching out to part manufacturers to acquire more info for their internal records. Since then, he’s moved on to design and development, working closely with a fellow engineer to come up with a water level control solution for a client’s AC unit. This process, he said, involved a lot of experimentation to see how small they could make the part and how long it would last.

“It’s definitely good to apply what I’ve learned to an actual job site,” said Nix. “You can only learn and read so much before you really need to apply that hands-on to a specific project. It’s the separation between academia versus what you’re actually doing and what’s expected of you as an engineer.”

Finding that work-life-balance
Although his internship is coming to a close, Nix will continue working at EcoBCG part time over the summer. His new responsibilities include an opportunity to travel to Tennessee for an assessment of the Jack Daniels distillery where he’ll help identify new projects and weigh in on which projects take priority.  

With a year of college left, and many other responsibilities in his life, Nix expressed his gratitude toward EcoBCG for their flexibility with his schedule and what this opportunity has taught him about setting and managing his expectations.

“My biggest takeaway, apart from the technical aspect, has been that time management and how I’m prioritizing the different things in my life,” Nix said. “I’m really trying to succeed at as much as possible in every aspect in my life without overdoing it. These past couple of months have definitely helped with that.”