Biomass intern program offers unique opportunity

By Luke Geiver | February 23, 2012

The Summer Biomass Internship Program, a collaboration among three upstate New York organizations, will give undergraduate and graduate students a chance to work in the biomass industry.

Through the program, interns can earn up to $5,000 from a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture higher education challenges grant program. The Syracuse Center of Excellence, the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), and CenterState Corp. for Economic Opportunity have all partnered to help run the internship program.

Aimee Clinkhammer, project scientist for research support at the Syracuse COE, said the internships are unique because of the work stipulations related to the program. The stipulations do not allow the participants to perform more than 20 percent of their weekly duties on administrative and paperwork-related tasks.

“They aren’t internships where they will be sitting at a desk or answering phones,” she said. “They will be gaining real world experience from being part of the project.” In total, eight companies have signed up for the program, including Antares Group, ACT Bioenergy, Mascoma, Mesa Reduction Engineering and Processing, New England Wood Pellet, O’Brien & Gere, ReEnergy, and Sunoco.

Those participating companies will pay for the fringe costs associated with hiring an intern, according to Clinkhammer. They will also create an internship job description that the organizing partners can then post. After interested applicants apply, the companies involved will rank them and the three organizing companies will help place the interns.

“Once we make the matches and the interns start, we really let the firms do most of the managing,” Clinkhammer said. “At the end of the internship, we ask that [interns] submit a summary detailing what they did, what they accomplished.”

Interns working with ACT Bioenergy can expect to help in the company’s biomass boiler testing program, while those working with New England Wood Pellet LLC would be engaged in public relations duties. For a full list of internship descriptions, or more information on the program, visit: