Before senior Kara Rich heads to her classes at Bemidji High School, she sits down at her desk each morning at the local Minnesota Department of Transportation District Office.
Through the Phoenix Program, Rich is a paid intern with MnDOT's Traffic Office in Bemidji. The Phoenix Program is a partnership between MnDOT and five Minnesota high schools that offer pre-engineering courses through Project Lead The Way.
Rich, who has taken three PLTW classes at BHS, began interning with MnDOT in June.
She interned full time in the summer and has continued her internship part time during the school year through the BHS School To Work Program. She plans to be a full-time student worker with MnDOT during the upcoming summer.
At MnDOT, Rich's responsibilities range from mapping crash data to writing letters to the public in response to sign requests to compiling detour information.
Rich said one of the highlights of her internship was going out into the field and conducting a speed study. Probably the biggest challenge, she said, is writing letters. For example, she writes letters in response to questions from the public.
Michelle Rognerud, who is Rich's supervisor and the assistant traffic engineer at MnDOT in Bemidji, said Rich is very independent and responsible.
"I've been very impressed with her," Rognerud said.
Rich said the internship has been very helpful and an eye-opener to what it's like to work in the civil engineering field.
This fall, Rich will attend North Dakota State University in Fargo with plans to major in architecture. She noted that architecture and civil engineering are similar fields.
"And I've had more of an architecture interest than civil engineering," Rich said.