When students faced the cancellation of their summer internships due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ronnie K. Irani Center for Energy Solutions (I-CES), located within in the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy at OU, stepped in to provide new opportunities.
According the college’s website, the I-CES “is a program that provides practical experiences and develops entrepreneurial mindsets for students pursuing energy- and earth-sciences-related degrees. Through externships, student teams work on industry projects provided by sponsoring companies.”
“It’s a unique way of bringing industry into the university and providing some real-world experience,” explained David Ferris, executive director of the I-CES.
Prior to this summer, the externship program was primarily focused on the capstone course in the Mewbourne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering and a couple of summer projects. This summer, the I-CES opened it up to a larger group to aid those who wanted the opportunity, and a total of 21 students who found themselves without internships were able to participate. This was especially valuable as some majors in the college require internship experience for graduation.
One student who participated in the I-CES externship program this summer was Laercio Filipe, who is set to graduate in December with his petroleum engineering degree. Filipe, who moved to the United States from Luanda, Angola, in 2014, first attended Oklahoma City Community College before transferring to OU.
Filipe worked virtually on projects with Charter Oak Production Co., based in Oklahoma City, and said it was a great experience. A key part of the program is connecting with OU professors who serve as mentors throughout the externship.