From the classroom to the control room: ISO New England hosts 29 interns this summer
With bags packed and pencils sharpened, more than two dozen talented students decided to take their summer vacation at the ISO, using the bright New England days to shape bright futures in the electric power industry. Selected among thousands of applicants, these young men and women from universities across the nation embarked on their 11-week internship program from June 4 to August 17. During their weeks working within various ISO departments, interns harnessed their knowledge about science, technology, engineering, and math to complete valuable projects relevant to the energy industry and gained real-world work experience and professional networking opportunities.
Projects with Purpose
ISO interns don’t fetch coffee – they’re too busy completing meaningful projects that help advance the big picture goals of their departments.
With renewable energy igniting the electric power industry, many interns spent their summers reimagining the future of the grid. Meaghan Podlaski, David Koleczek, and Hayley Allard-Raucci, interns of the IT-EMS Day Ahead Support Department, investigated solar PV and used machine learning algorithms and high-level programming languages to develop new forecasting models. Trisha Ray from Resource Adequacy worked to qualify over 30 distribution-scale solar projects for the upcoming Forward Capacity Market, and Tian Lan from Business Architecture & Technology worked on converting the wind turbine motor simulation tools for both on- and off-line purposes.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Podlaski. “I’ve wanted to work with renewables since I wanted to become an electrical engineer, so it’s really exciting to finally be able to do that.”
As day to day operations become more and more digital, maintaining software to support cybersecurity is a top priority for the ISO. Several of our summer interns worked on the task of ensuring the ISO’s tech accuracy and safety. Joseph Osaheni of Hourly Market Operations tested software for precision and performance, and Hanyue Li of Business Architecture & Technology (BAT) researched new ways to detect and help prevent cybersecurity attacks. Jonathan Zuber of the Internal Audits’ tech wing assisted in comparing internet configurations to verify that the ISO’s data is protected and helped identify cybersecurity improvements.
“All of the colleagues in the group are super professional and super smart,” said Li. “Whenever we have questions, we can just go to the person’s cubicle and throw a question at them, and he or she will always give a satisfying answer.”
ISO New England administers New England’s wholesale electricity markets, so many of our interns tackled assignments relevant to market operations and design. Khaled Alshehri of Business Architecture & Technology (BAT) developed a market simulation tool for testing new market design ideas and worked to address the flexibility requirements of future power markets. Max Jaffe from Resource Adequacy developed two tools to expedite qualifying generators for the Forward Capacity Market (FCM), and Reid Horstmyer from Market Operations assisted in clearing the monthly and yearly auctions run by his department, including the Forward Reserve Market (FRM).
“The kind of questions I receive whenever I present a new idea trigger a new way of thinking for me, trigger a new discovery… that’s really something that I enjoy,” said Alshehri.
Reliable Grid Operations
Ensuring power system reliability is the core of ISO New England’s mission. Adam Freesman of Short-Term Outage Coordination helped perform reliability studies to verify that substations have adequate time to run smoothly while Jonathan Simonin of Operational Performance, Training & Integration (OPTI) enhanced the Gas Utilization Tool that aids forecasters and operators in tracking and estimating the amount of natural gas available to regional generators. From the financial perspective, Internal Audit interns Stephanie Godek and Ryan Carucci as well as Enterprise Risk Management intern Lisa Han audited the vendor contract process and examined the external transaction system governing market operations.
“What’s cool about it is we get to work with the control room and with System Planning, so a lot of the stuff that we build is being used by other people,” said Brooks Reno, intern in the OPTI department. “Here I get big picture, so that’s interesting for me.”
A Foundation for the Future
Interns not only immerse themselves in the world of the ISO through department-specific projects but also learn fundamental skills relevant to the workforce at large. They attend workshops in business writing and job preparation and even engage in real dialogue with senior management. Field trips to area power plants bring interns into direct contact with the resources that fuel their work in both the classroom and at the ISO.
One common thread weaved the interns’ unique ISO experiences together: the acquiring of an exciting skill set sure to propel them in any professional direction they wish to take, energy-related and beyond.
“Our group really wants us to learn and to come out of this not just contributing to our group but also with valued experience to ourselves,” said Podlaski.
But for many, parting from the ISO at the end of summer isn’t a permanent “goodbye” – it’s a hopeful “see you later.”
- Boston College
- Carnegie Mellon University
- Cornell University
- Lehigh University
- Michigan State University
- Oregon State University
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
- Smith College
- Texas A&M University
- The Pennsylvania State University
- University of Connecticut
- University of California Riverside
- University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne
- University of Massachusetts Amherst
- University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez
- Washington State University
- Western New England University
- Westfield State University
- Inside ISO New England