This summer I was given the opportunity to intern as a technical assistant at the Koror State Solid Waste Management (SWM) Recycling Center under the supervision of Mr. Katsuo Fuji. As a recent graduate with an engineering background, I thought that this would be a good experience for me. I would be working for an organization that served the public by looking for innovative ways to keep Palau a pristine paradise while also stimulating the economy.
As a technical assistant, I participated in the assembly of the new SWM pyrolysis (plastic-to-oil) plant. My learning outcomes for this internship were to understand each piece of equipment, plumbing, gauges, sensors, and the overall wiring of the system. I also planned to learn the principle and operation method of the pyrolysis plant as a whole.
My first task was to attend briefings regarding the plant. I was given a schematic and completed a full inspection of the plant. I was glad that I had studied how to read basic circuit layouts in university, but it was still overwhelming at first. I began assisting with the wiring of the main control panel. Although I had never completed any connections in school, my immediate supervisor was patient and allowed me to try repeatedly until I was comfortable installing panels by myself. I successfully connected the air compressor, nitrogen generator, nitrogen tank, and cooling tower to the main control panel. I even assisted with the installation of the reactor exhaust pipes. During my final week of my internship, Mr. Fuji performed an inspection of the plant and reported that we did an excellent job.
From the list of activities that I participated in over the course of the last eight weeks, I believe that I successfully achieved all of my learning outcomes. The tasks that I participated in made me realize how many valuable skills can only be learned through on-the-job training. I am very glad that I chose to be an electrical engineer. Completing this internship has reinforced my conviction to continue the career path I have chosen.
I have had an excellent overall experience as a young college graduate. There are four main points that I want to share. First, I want to learn more as an engineer. Theory and design are not enough, especially here in Palau. I should be as well versed in practical applications as I possibly can. Second, I believe there should be more Palauan engineers. There is a shortage of engineers in general in Palau, but we must keep in mind that we cannot continue to import workers from other countries. We have enough local manpower, but we collectively also need to take responsibility and step up to the challenge of making our country better. Third, I would like to assist more young people (not just college students) to have a similar learning experience as I did. I was so lost at the start of this internship and wondered if I was going to be of any use. I was shy and ashamed to say that I did not know many things that were necessary to move the project forward. However, staying in that state of fear and nervousness was not going to help. I learned to speak up and ask for help. I learned that it is perfectly fine to fail, especially when you are starting out, as long as you learn from it and try to be better the next time. Finally, and most importantly, this internship has shown me that not only am I needed in Palau but that I truly want to return. This country will always be my home, and one day I will do everything in my power to push it further than it has ever been.