Education News

Fall 2010 Announcement of Internships

2010-10-08

Each semester, the Earth Institute offers a variety of internship opportunities for Columbia and Barnard students. Students will have the opportunity to work at one of the Earth Institute centers or programs in a variety of multidisciplinary units. These intern projects, along with many others, have given interns the hands-on knowledge and experience to learn and grow professionally within the field of sustainable development.

Application deadlines for fall internships are noted below. The internships are funded at a rate of $15 an hour for 10 hours per week and up to a maximum of 120 hours for the fall 2010 semester.

Please see below descriptions of seven fall internship opportunities. All full-time Columbia and Barnard students are eligible to apply. Please note the type of student requested for each position and the deadline.

1. Millennium Villages Project and Haiti Regeneration Initiative LDSF Internship Project Description

The Haiti Regeneration Initiative (HRI) and the Millennium Villages project (MVP) aim to reduce poverty and vulnerability to natural disasters through the restoration of ecosystems and livelihoods based on sustainable natural resource management. A key component of this strategy is to effectively assess the current conditions of natural resources in and around the communities that utilize them. Both the HRI and the MVP have used the Land Degradation Surveillance Framework (LDSF) methodology to collect soil and vegetation data at a landscape scale.  These projects are now in the process of analyzing these complex datasets.

Working with scientists at the Tropical Agriculture and Rural Environment Program (TroAg) and CIESIN, the intern will assist with analysis of the LDSF datasets. This analysis will then be incorporated into development strategies and used to generate land management options for each project site.

Anticipated Tasks

The intern will be responsible for: helping clean and prepare data sets for analysis; preparing summary statistics and conducting statistical analysis; and drafting sections of project reports and other publications, including memos of recommended interventions.
Interns will be expected to work at least part of the time at the TropAg and CIESIN offices at the Lamont campus.  

Skills Required

Background or strong interest in environmental science. Strong quantitative and qualitative data analysis skills, including familiarity with R statistical software package. Strong GIS mapping skills and knowledge of geostatistics a plus. Strong writing skills.

Internship Start Date

As soon as possible

Type of Student Desired

Graduate desired but undergraduates with strong experience in data management and environmental science will also be considered.

The application deadline for this internship is October 15, 2010, at 12 p.m.  Interested students should send a cover letter and resume to ei-students@ei.columbia.edu. Please put the name of the internship in the subject line. 

2. Shared Solar Internship

Project Description

The Modi Research Group is developing a "Shared Solar" system. Shared Solar is a mode of service delivery that will provide electricity for essential needs such as lighting, mobile phone charging and basic communications technologies (television, radio) to poor, rural households in developing countries. This project takes advantage of advances in low-power electricity metering and control technology, expanding access to mobile telecommunications and the potential for on-demand power delivery inherent in solar systems to create a more efficient, and more cost-effective mode of delivering electricity to the poor.

The design combines two key elements:  1) modular solar photovoltaic systems that serve individual households and shops through a dedicated wire; and 2) new electricity metering and control technologies that track electricity consumption and manage payment through the mobile phone network. For consumers, this system replaces high-cost, inefficient energy services from kerosene and dry-cell batteries with efficient, clean, and low-cost electric power purchased simply through a pay-as-you-go system already familiar to mobile phone users. For electricity entrepreneurs, this system replaces complex and laborious billing and house-to-house collection with an efficient, automated system that provides detailed data on consumption and payment. By increasing transparency to households, improving management for entrepreneurs and decreasing costs for both, this system promises to create a truly profitable, convenient and thus economically sustainable and scalable electricity businesses model for underserved rural communities throughout the developing world.

Anticipated Tasks

An undergraduate research assistant is needed to fulfill the duties of: 1) software testing; 2) hardware buildup for the shared solar project; and 3) lab space setup and organization. The undergraduate research assistant will work with the fast-paced, deliverables-focused Shared Solar team of software engineers and post-doc's to help build up the systems for deployment to the Millennium Village in Mali at the end of the fall 2010 semester. 

Skills Required 

The ideal candidate will have some software development (programming) experience (ideally with Python or Perl), as well as basic hardware assembly experience (ideally basic machining, i.e., drill press). Excellent communication skills needed. Close attention to detailed required. Some familiarity with Solar PV systems is a plus. Senior mechanical engineering or computer science majors are likely the strongest candidates.

Internship Start Date

As soon as possible

Type of Student Desired

Undergraduate

The application deadline for this internship is October 15, 2010, at 12 p.m.  Interested students should send a cover letter and resume to ei-students@ei.columbia.edu.  Please put the name of the internship in the subject line. 

3. Climate Matters Blog Internship

Project Description

An integral part of the Columbia Climate Center’s communication mission is our blog, Climate Matters. Climate Matters, the first blog of the Earth Institute, covers all matters climate and energy. The blog has had over 100,000 page views from over 183 countries and tens of thousands of unique visitors since its inception in December 2008.

Anticipated Tasks

The Columbia Climate Center is looking for a student intern to contribute to our Climate Matters blog. The intern will research, write and get credit for each piece they contribute. Blog topics are up to the writer—everything from climate science to policy to health to energy efficiency and more are fair game. The intern will do the bulk of the work during set hours here in our offices. There are several research projects in which the intern could take part, but the intern’s primary task will be to produce blog posts, which involves research and critical thinking skills in addition to writing, while deepening their climate knowledge in specific topics while blogging.

The Climate Matters blog is an ongoing initiative that requires continual research in order to maintain a steady stream of new blog posts, which keep the blog dynamic and current. In addition to following his or her own climate-related interests, the research assistant will need to stay abreast of climate issues in the news to create a weekly “Climate News Roundup” posting.
 
Skills Required

The preferred candidate will have excellent writing and communication skills and an interest or experience in climate science, environmental science, climate and energy policy, and communication.
 
Internship Start Date

As soon as possible

Type of Student Desired

Undergraduate, Graduate or Ph.D.

The application deadline for this internship is October 15, 2010, at 12 p.m. Interested students should send a cover letter and resume to ei-students@ei.columbia.edu. Please put the name of the internship in the subject line. 

4. Extractive Industries and Sustainable Development Internship

Project Description

During the fall 2010 semester, the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI) will continue focusing on the formulation of a sustainable investment framework for the extractive industry that promotes sustainable economic development and the mutual trust needed for long-term investments. The extractive industries face a special need for such trust, given the massive long-term investments that they undertake in poor and potentially unstable countries. Additionally, extractive companies are uniquely poised—given the size and scope of the investments—to contribute to the economic development of the regions and countries in which they invest.

The framework will address the challenges of governance (e.g., fair and efficient negotiations, contracts, policy framework, official capacity, anticorruption and transparency), social concerns (e.g., labor and employment, community health, nutrition, education, etc.), environmental sustainability (e.g., land use, biodiversity, water, greenhouse gases, new technologies, etc.), and economic development (e.g., integration of private sector investments in national development plans, regional integration, national infrastructure, and promoting economic development and human rights at the community and country levels).

The framework will also be informed by our practical engagement with governments and extractive industry companies in at least two country projects—in Mozambique and East Timor—in which the VCC is working with other Earth Institute sector specialists (in agriculture, health, education, infrastructure) to understand and promote the integration of the sustainable development of the extractive industries with the development priorities of the region.

Anticipated Tasks

The VCC is seeking a student researcher to assist with all stages of the research project, including documenting and assessing the success of past and ongoing initiatives to promote cooperative, transparent, equitable and efficient investment in the extractive industries and to maximize the contribution of these investments to local, regional and national development. The student researcher will also start to document and assess how “success” has been measured, how success can be scaled up, and most importantly, how successful initiatives can be better implemented in the future to achieve real development outcomes. The student researcher will also be integral to the preparation for and follow-up from the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment conference on “Extractive Industries and Sustainable Development: The Challenges of Implementation,” to be held October 27-28 at Columbia University. A very high-level group of panelists representing all stakeholder groups will be participating in this open conference. Finally, the student may be involved in practical assignments related to country-based implementation projects, to experience and contribute to the application of the work in practice.

The intern will also have the opportunity to continue working on the project during the spring and summer of 2011.

Skills Required

The ideal candidates will be interested in sustainable development, foreign investment and/or natural resource management. As research staff will be overseeing each dimension of the project, students with particular interest in any one of those four areas can specialize exclusively in that area. The ideal candidates will have good research and writing skills and enjoy working on a team.

Internship Start Date

As soon as possible

Type of Student Desired

Graduate or Ph.D.

The application deadline for this internship is October 15, 2010, at 12 p.m. Interested students should send a cover letter and resume to ei-students@ei.columbia.edu. Please put the name of the internship in the subject line. 

5. Community Health Workers (CHW) Program Knowledge Management Development and Continuous Quality Improvement Systems Engineering Internship

Project Description

CHW Program Knowledge Management Development
The intern will work with the health systems coordinator and health team coordinator in designing a knowledge management platform for the CHW program, to be used for centralization of knowledge across the Earth Institute, MDG and site team offices. The intern will assist in developing a robust dissemination strategy for the KM platform in order to maximize uptake and continuous utilization by CHW program stakeholders. The intern will work with the health systems coordinator and regional CHW coordinators to collect, document and categorize pertinent information related to the CHW program across all sites. Other tasks include populating the KM center with program information to be utilized in gaps analysis, policy development, decision making, and general programming and developing a strategy for sharing best-practices for the CHW program across sites using the KM platform.

Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) Systems Engineering
The intern will research CQI best practices and tools from management and health care industries to be adapted and used for the Millennium Villages (i.e., safe pregnancy checklist, etc.). The intern will conduct a gaps analysis on quality of maternal and neonatal care in Ruhiira and Ikaram and support the Earth Institute Quality of Care team in engineering systematic solutions. The intern will also develop a curriculum for CQI leadership workshops in Ruhiira and Ikaram.

Skills Required

Experience in global health curriculum development. Experience with wikis, project management platforms and knowledge management. Strong research application and implementation skills, with an eye for usability. Very organized and systematic, with meticulous attention to detail. Strong communication, interpersonal and writing skills. Proactive, self-starting and entrepreneurial mentality.

Internship Start Date

As soon as possible

Type of Student Desired

Undergraduate, Graduate or Ph.D.

The application deadline for this internship is October 15, 2010, at 12 p.m. Interested students should send a cover letter and resume to ei-students@ei.columbia.edu. Please put the name of the internship in the subject line. 

6. Roofs and Rivers: Adapting to a New York City Water Problem

Project Description

The intern will study the interaction and sustainability of water and greenhouse gases in the built and natural environments of New York City with a specific interest toward green areas and the impact on the water cycle and water quality of the surrounding waters. The intern will examine the effects of climate change and human behavior on natural ecosystems regarding water management, sources, sinks and fate of air quality (e.g., ozone) and monitor greenhouse gasses (atmospheric carbon dioxide) in NYC and its surrounding regions. This knowledge will help develop our understanding of changes in the health of our environment in the future.

Anticipated Tasks

1) Designing, building, installing and maintaining field-based instrumentation systems to continuously measure and log various environmental parameters. 2) Collecting water samples in the field for laboratory analysis. 3) Analyzing acquired data for trends over different temporal and spatial scales.

Skills Required

Interest in hands-on research experience; data analysis; report writing.
  
Internship Start Date

As soon as possible

Type of Student Desired

Undergraduate, Graduate or Ph.D.

The application deadline for this internship is October 15, 2010, at 12 p.m. Interested students should send a cover letter and resume to ei-students@ei.columbia.edu. Please put the name of the internship in the subject line. 

7. Macroeconomic Coding Internship (Millennium Development Goals Project)

Description of Responsibilities

A current Columbia University student is needed to analyze and translate macroeconomic coding work into a user-friendly guidebook/toolkit. The aim is for this guidebook/toolkit to ultimately be used by macroeconomic planners, ministries of finance and central banks—particularly in the developing world—as a strategic planning and policy guidance tool for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
 
The intern will recommend a best format for the deliverable in cooperation with the supervisor, given its intended audience and purpose. The intern will then incorporate recently completed specific policy-applicable General Algebraic Modeling System (GAMS) coding, including agricultural and human resources modules, into the guidebook/toolkit. Once completed, the macroeconomic tool and guidebook will be made freely available online.

The intern will report to a research associate at the Earth Institute, Columbia University.

Skills Required

Applicant must be a current Columbia University student, specializing in a field related to economics, engineering and/or sustainable development. Previous experience with software programming, basic mathematical systems and/or international development issues is a major advantage. Must have demonstrated initiative and ability to work independently, be detail-oriented and have outstanding organizational skills, and be flexible in responding to changing priorities in a fast-paced environment. Must be proficient in GAMS or related software coding, or be able to learn it very quickly.

Internship Start Date

As soon as possible

Type of Student Desired

 Graduate student preferred

The application deadline for this internship is October 22, 2010, at 5 p.m. Interested students should send a cover letter and resume to tslagle@ei.columbia.edu. Please put the name of the internship in the subject line.