Engineering Student Completes Internship with National Energy Lab

by Public Relations | Nov 19, 2015

Jordan Bordonaro
Jordan N. Bordonaro of Natrona Heights, a junior majoring in Saint Vincent College’s 3/2 math/engineering program, recently completed an internship with the National Energy Technology Laboratory through the Mikey Leland Energy Fellowship funded by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education. 

She was one of 52 undergraduates selected for participation in the prestigious summer program from thousands of applicants at colleges and universities across the United States. 

“The internship was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy at their National Energy Technology Laboratory in Pittsburgh,” Bordonaro explained. “We also spent some time at the National Energy Technology Laboratory in Morgantown, West Virginia.” 

Bordonaro credits one of her professors, Dr. Paul S. Follansbee, the James F. Will Professor of Engineering Science in the Herbert W. Boyer School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Computing, with identifying the internship opportunity and making her aware of it through a community page he maintains on the college’s computer network. “I was interested in doing some advanced technology research in the petroleum field since that is an area that is of primary interest to me,” she said. “So, I decided to complete the extensive application.” 

“Sustaining our energy consumption is really important,” she continued. “We use it all the time and don’t even really think about it. One thing I learned during the internship is that our current methods of producing energy are relatively inefficient right now but we do so because it is inexpensive. Alternative technology is already available but not yet cost efficient enough to replace conventional methods.” 

“This was an outstanding opportunity for Jordan to work with some outstanding scientists, equipment and research problems,” commented Follansbee. “She is a very good student with a serious interest in engineering and good aptitude for the field of chemical engineering. I am really proud that she wrote a strong application for this very competitive program. I was able to watch her deliver her final research presentation on the web and was impressed with what she had learned and the manner in which she presented it.” 

Bordonaro’s internship project was titled, The State of Supercritical CO2 Heat Exchanger Technology. “The Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy has an interest in supercritical CO2 as a working fluid in heat exchangers used in fossil fuel applications,” she noted. “My project aimed to determine the current state of the art in the technology area of supercritical CO2 heat exchangers as well as create a way to compare designs being used in different systems and conditions.” 

“I learned so much!” she declared. “I learned about turbines, power cycles, fossil fuel technologies like solid oxide fuel cells, chemical looping and so much more. I learned a lot about energy technology but I also got to learn about the managerial skills involved in the industry. Even though my mentors were engineers and scientists, they have a lot of managerial responsibilities as project managers who oversee budgeting, conferences with industry partners and professional communications. I was able to learn and practice some of these skills which are critically important to their everyday work.” 

As a student in Saint Vincent College’s 3/2 math and engineering program, she will transfer to the University of Pittsburgh for her next two years of engineering studies and earn two bachelor degrees, a degree in mathematics from Saint Vincent and a degree in engineering from Pitt, credentials which will gain her excellent career opportunities. She plans to continue her education and earn a master’s degree and a Ph.D. “My dream is to be a business owner related to energy and sustainability,” she predicted. 

While her academic studies take most of her time, she also makes time to market and manage her own small business, Good Boy Pet Care Services, a dog walking and sitting service that she operates with another student in the Latrobe and Greensburg areas. At Saint Vincent, she is a member of the Bowling Club, Mathematics Club, Chemistry Club and Campus Ministry. A member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, she has been named to the Dean’s List for academic achievement. She gained experience last year as a teaching assistant and laboratory prep in the Chemistry Department and as a prefect (resident assistant) for the Office of Student Affairs. 

She is also a musician who plays the trumpet, alto sax, oboe and piano. “Music can express things that cannot be put into words,” she explained. “I feel that this creative outlet is important to making me a well-rounded individual.” 

Bordonaro said she chose to study at Saint Vincent for several reasons. “I liked that Saint Vincent was Catholic and thought it would help keep me grounded,” she said. “I also knew that it had an excellent academic program. I discovered that their financial aid programs make it very affordable. I am paying for school myself and it turned out that five years in this program is less expensive than four years at another engineering school and I will have two degrees. And, finally, I am close with my big family and going to Saint Vincent enables me to visit my parents, my three sisters and my grandma.” 

“Saint Vincent has challenged me academically,” she concluded. “I have a friend who is a year ahead of me in the 3/2 program and is already at Pitt studying electrical engineering. He said that he thought Saint Vincent really prepared him well. I feel the same way so far because the teachers are all wonderful.” 

A 2013 graduate of Highlands High School, she is the daughter of John and Tammy Bordonaro of Natrona Heights. She is a member of Lighthouse Fellowship, Sarver.

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Photo: Jordan N. Bordonaro

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