SciTech internship program, alumni, where are they now? ​From interning at a small engineering firm in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota to leading a design team for NASA, SciTech Alumni Madilyn Fesenmaier has come a long way in her scientific career.

It all began in 2018 when Fesenmaier secured a SciTech internship with Engel Metallurgical. She started there as a Metallurgical Engineering Intern, acting as a lab technician where she helped with specification testing and automotive castings.

“This being my first ever internship experience,” Fesenmaier said, “I was not sure what to expect going in, but everyone at the office was super helpful and welcoming and the internship experience was knowledge intensive from day one on […] I got my hands dirty and became familiar with most of the equipment that a metallurgist would need to touch in his or her career.”

To Boeing and Beyond
That initial exposure and experience stayed with Fesenmaier, helping her stand out during crucial interviews later on in her professional journey. One instance of note was her internship with Boeing that she acquired after attending a career fair at the National Society of Women Engineering conference during her sophomore year.

“I dropped a resume off at the Boeing booth during the career fair, interviewed for a position in Philadelphia, PA (in their last open conference interview spot) the next day of the conference, and received an offer letter the following day,” Fesenmaier recalled. “If it was not for my first internship experience at Engel Metallurgical, my Boeing interviewer, and later boss, would not have blinked an eye at my resume. I had received training on virtually all of the same laboratory equipment that I would be using at the Boeing internship in the Philadelphia Metals Lab.”

Apart from her previous industry experience, Fesenmaier said, having a strong resume and a willingness to take chances contributed a lot to her securing this opportunity.

“Build your resume up early with a variety of experiences because that gives you so much leverage in obtaining your career and personal goals,” Fesenmaier advised. “Adding to that, don’t be afraid to take risks when it comes to trying new things. I was terrified to move all the way across the country to Philadelphia for my first Boeing internship. I am so glad that I did because that internship has opened so many doors for future work opportunities.”

Engineering for NASA
Of all the doors that would open for Fesenmaier, one in particular was out of this world.

“This semester, I was selected to participate in NASA’s L’Space Mission Concept Academy. I am working on a team of 10 to design a surface lander that one day might explore the surface on Enceladus.”

Enceladus is an ice moon of Saturn. Samples collected by the Cassini spacecraft as it flew through the erupting geysers of Enceladus’ southern pole suggests the likelihood of a liquid ocean beneath the moon’s icy crust which could hold the potential for life.

“This mission excites me more than the upcoming Mars mission simply because there is a chance that life exists under that ice cap. It is crazy to think about, but one day we will probably deplete all of our resources on Earth. When that time comes, will we begin solar system hopping? Enceladus might end up being a location that can help us learn from other “civilians” and better prepare for how we might planet hop.”

Fesenmaier is acting as the materials specialist as well as the engineering lead for her team, giving her a chance to develop her leadership skills in tandem with her material science experience. With weekly check-ins and group discussions, it’s important to her to maintain open communication, to ensure that everyone on the team feels heard and gets the help they need.

Never Stop Looking
Fesenmaier is on track to complete her masters in material science and engineering in May of 2022. After that, she said, “I would like to find myself settling down with a company that cares about its people just as much as its products.” Perhaps a similar environment to the one she found at Engel.

“My SciTech internship experience with Engel Metallurgical reassured me that I was headed down the right path in terms of my future plans in pursuing a degree in Metallurgical Engineering. There is absolutely no way I would be where I am today without my first internship at Engel.”

Her advice to fellow aspiring engineers and scientists: “Never stop looking!” Find organizations that are working on something that inspires you, do your research and reach out to them.

“Don’t be afraid to ask if they have any openings if the company seems like a good fit for you,” Fesenmaier said.  “A simple conversation can lead to an internship or fulltime position!” Whether that means engineering space craft or developing tech here on earth, it all begins with you.

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Read more inspiring stories from the SciTech Alumni who are crushing it in their fields and check out the Where are They Now? series on our blog.