Interns Gain Unique Experience Through MEMA Dam Safety Program
July 7, 2014
The MEMA Dam Safety Program has been joined by two summer interns, Chelsea Dean and Tucker Jones, who have helped with various tasks, such as data entry for computer modeling software and safety databases, and conducting field surveys for high hazard dams.
The interns also travel with State Dam Inspector Tony Fletcher on numerous dam safety inspections.
“Employing interns enables the Dam Safety office to make progress with the safety assessments of particular dams,” says Fletcher. “Personally there is a satisfaction in being able to mentor young engineers, to try to pass on what I have learned; it is after all good stewardship and the future of the Profession."
From June 23-25, Dean, Jones, and Fletcher, as well as Dan Taylor, assistant dam safety engineer, traveled to both Aroostook and Washington County on a three-day inspection trip. On Wednesday, they traveled to the Echo Lake Dam in Presque Isle while Thursday and Friday were spent inspecting two out of the four dams on Nash’s Lake in Calais. These two dams, Main Dam and West Wing Dam, are of higher safety concern on the lake.
The West Wing Dam was also inaccessible to cars and trucks, meaning the inspection crew had to hike roughly three hundred yards into the woods on an upward slope, all while carrying their equipment, in order to inspect and survey it.
“On Thursday I was in charge of surveying the dam, which was an interesting experience,” said Dean, a rising senior at the University of Maine majoring in Civil Engineering who has already been on five different dam inspection trips during her first month at MEMA.
These inspection trips therefore prove to be more than part of a job description for the interns, but a way to build communication and leadership skills.
“[Tony] gives us our own projects and leadership roles and is very focused on giving us a learning experience” said Jones, a rising sophomore at the University of Maine also majoring in Civil Engineering.
In addition to the development of valuable real-world skills, there has been a uniquely inspirational aspect of the intern experience as well.
“When we were in Calais we went to a wildlife preserve where there had recently been a dam breach,” said Jones. “I have seen videos and pictures of dam failures but this was the first time I had seen one in the field. It was very interesting and useful to see just what we are trying to prevent.”
For more information on the MEMA Dam Safety Program, contact Tony Fletcher at (207) 624-4400 or by email at Tony.Fletcher@maine.gov.