Carnegie Mellon University

Tessa Weeden

September 26, 2019

Weeden’s Global Internships Build Experience, Provide Growth Opportunities

Tessa Weeden’s (CivE '20) willingness to take on new challenges have led her to an internship for the Alaska Center for Entergy and Power and a weekend-long soil mechanics bench-building project. But as she nears graduation, Weeden made the decision to expand her reach globally while gaining valuable hands-on experience through an internship at a remediation site in Grenzach-Wyhlen, Germany.

Weeden assisted on Roche Pharma AG’s (Roche) project to excavate the western part of the Kesslergrube landfill while ensuring thermal disposal of all excavated soil materials.

“The Kesslergrube landfill includes several former gravel pits in Grenzach-Wyhlen, which were filled with domestic, construction, and chemical/pharmaceutical waste until 1976,” she says. The site is currently enclosed by an airtight, sound-insulated building in order to protect the environment against harmful emissions.

Weeden’s internship focused mostly on documentation—but she had the opportunity to work on soil analysis, GPS tracking, and using 3D scans to measure the daily excavation.

She explains that “the contaminated soil will be transported off-site by trucks, rail, or ships in special airtight, reinforced containers.” It will then be processed at dedicated thermal soil treatment or hazardous waste incineration plants. The excavated area will be refilled with clean gravel, soil, and topsoil in 2020.

Her work built directly upon the soil analysis skills she gained at CEE. Weeden adds that the best part of the internship was when she was allowed to access the contaminated zone to make a measurement, using a GPS system. “I was required to wear a full body safety suit, rubber safety boots, gloves, and Versaflo Respiratory Hardhat Assembly to provide me with fresh air. It was exciting because I felt like I was on a Mars expedition!”

Weeden’s successful internships show that stepping outside of her comfort zone—and taking positions in faraway places—has been a valuable piece of her CEE education. She adds that finding these types of opportunities requires networking and job searching to find the right fit. “I found out about Bauer and the internship at the Kesslergrube through a CMU alum I met at a networking event at school.”