About Isthmus:
Isthmus Engineering Inc. is a St. Paul-based engineering firm specializing in transportation design services. Isthmus covers all aspects of transportation engineering, including geometric layouts, final design plan preparation, cross sections and earthwork, hydraulic design and much more.

Isthmus hired two interns through the SciTech Internship Program: Ronald Kitoy, a civil engineering intern, and Isaiah Scharen, a design visualization intern.

Kitoy and Scharen came to their internships with two very different backgrounds which led to two very different experiences. Scharen’s point person and advisor at Isthmus was Staff Engineer Justin Konen, while Kitoy rotated between departments, learning as much from as many people as he could.

“I had no idea about some of the stuff I’d be learning,” Kitoy said. “I don’t think my transportation class could have taught me as much as working in the workplace has. There’s a deeper learning here than what I get in school.”

Despite the different approaches to mentorship and project structure, Isthmus’s constant is their dedication to first-hand industry training.

“One of our company core values is to elevate the industry,” said Elizabeth Lewen, an engineer and HR coordinator at Isthmus. “And one way we do that is by bringing in new talent and providing opportunities for students to discover engineering.”

“It also helps us refocus,” Konen added, “and sort of step back and reexamine things that we otherwise wouldn’t have. Nothing quite gets you to understand something like trying to teach it to someone else.”

Meet the Interns:
Ronald Kitoy is a senior at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. During his internship at Isthmus he did everything from initial cyber security training, to roadway and traffic design.

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“To me, it’s like a kid walking into a candy story,” Kitoy said. “Learning what my career could be in the future excites me a lot. I enjoy coming into work every day and learning deeper and deeper about this field.”

Isaiah Scharen, also a senior, attends St. Olaf and is majoring in physics with a minor in art. He was able to apply some of his artistic talents when working to develop Isthmus’s design visualization programs and technology. This includes creating 3D models of real-life structures and locations that can be shown to clients either on a monitor or with a VR headset.

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During the visit, Scharen demonstrated the virtualization he created of a nearby alley. When asked if getting to work on something this cool was the best part of his internship, he said no, “the best part is knowing that this work will make a difference.”