MINOT, N.D. • Zhuoyu “Benjamin” Yang, a Minot State student from Singapore, was granted an intern position with Energy Hawks — a program initiated by the Energy and Environmental Research Center at the University of North Dakota — the summer before his senior year.
“The internship focused predominantly on conducting multidisciplinary research related to the energy industry, with the goal of adding value to North Dakota’s energy landscape and potentially finding solutions to tomorrow’s energy challenges,” Yang said.
He began the internship on May 24 of this year, and as a computer science major who is passionate about writing software, he was excited to be a part of the energy industry in North Dakota.
“I was most eager to collaborate with, learn from, and exchange ideas with both industry professionals and internship peers. At the same time, I was also immensely grateful for the opportunity to participate in a burgeoning energy industry,” Yang said.
The beginning of the internship included presentations that addressed information about the energy sector to help him and the rest of the interns come up with three research ideas as a group that they used for the rest of their internship.
“My general responsibilities as an Energy Hawk were to learn about the ins and outs of the energy industry, especially in relation to North Dakota, identify current challenges, and to develop innovative solutions to address and overcome these challenges. Each research idea culminated in a whitepaper by the end of the internship,” Yang said.
Going into the computer science field, Yang mentions how he must be able to solve problems while creating a positive social and economic impact, which this internship helped him with.
“This internship sharpened my problem-solving skills through critical thinking and having to work within constraints,” he said. “Overall, I think it made me a more efficient and creative problem solver.
"I believe the challenges we will face in the near future will require solutions that draw from an interdisciplinary set of ideas — this internship has given me the ideal training for this. It has been helpful in honing my ability to ask the right questions to arrive at the crux of an issue.”
Yang was excited about being presented with this opportunity and is amazed with how much information he received and his success in the program.
“I was very impressed by the number of industry experts who were invited to speak with us about their field and research, as well as the level of detail each presentation topic was explored,” Yang said. “Additionally, I am really excited that one of my ideas was selected as one of the three research ideas that we worked on.”
His internship ended Aug. 8 and Yang gained lots of experience and connections that he will use toward his career.
“This internship gave me the opportunity to broaden my horizons beyond what I have learned in the classroom,” he said. “It helped me to be creative and merge ideas from my previous experience in psychology and my current academic pursuit of computer science, with fresh insights of the energy sector.”
“There is never a dull moment; every day is, at least, slightly different and presents me with a novel set of insights. I am confident that the lessons learned and experience accrued will continue to benefit me in the long run.”
Calli Delsman is a communications student assistant at Minot State University.