An inside look at the policy and politics of complex technological issues and a search for real-world solutions to the water challenges of tomorrow are the focus of a prestigious internship awarded to a Shawnee senior from the University of Kansas School of Engineering.
David Catt, who attended Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, will spend 10 weeks this summer in the nation’s capital through the Washington Internship for Students of Engineering (WISE) program. The internship consists of meeting with policy makers from government agencies, sitting in on congressional subcommittee meetings and getting an overview of how engineers can contribute to legislative and regulatory public policy decisions. Students will also focus on producing a substantial research paper on a topic of interest to them.
“This is a great opportunity and a really good fit for me,” said Catt, who plans to graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering.
A handful of professional engineering societies, such as the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), SAE International and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), sponsor the WISE internship program. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) will sponsor Catt.
“ASTM is responsible for establishing universally accepted standards in a wide variety of areas and fields, including water, which is a real passion of mine,” Catt said. “Since my future job will be with Black & Veatch in their water division, this is a great match for me.”
While Catt knows he’ll focus on water resources for his research paper, he’s yet to decide on the specifics. One option deals with cycling water discharged from a wastewater treatment plant directly back into a water treatment plant for reuse. The other centers on developing new infrastructure techniques in coastal areas to combat sea level rise.
“Both issues will be extremely important in the next few decades, so the more we can do to research, problem solve and address them now, the more prepared we’ll be to face these challenges,” Catt said.
Catt, a Self Engineering Leadership Fellow, is the fourth KU student to earn a WISE internship since the program started in 1980. He plans to join Black & Veatch in Overland Park at the conclusion of his internship.