Clean Cities Internship Prepare Students for Careers in Energy & Sustainability

    At Louisiana Clean Fuels, interns can learn to work closely with staff and stakeholders to further LCF’s mission to reduce emissions and petroleum usage.

    LCF’s internship program, funded through Argonne National Laboratory’s Clean Cities University Workforce Development Program, enables college students to gain practical work experience in the alternative fuels and vehicle technology industry. Ann Vail, LCF Executive Director, says that she likes to shape the internship around the skills and interests of each intern. “We want to find the best way for each intern to best work with us, but we also want to set them up for success in whatever field they want to move into in the future, whether that’s alternative fuels, engineering, environmental policy, communications, or something else entirely.” Interns often participate in clean fuel events, research, outreach activities, fleet events, school outreach, along with other transportation and environmental projects.

    LCF Interns like Jacob Holt, an engineering student at Louisiana State University, have the opportunity to see their work make a direct impact on the organization.

    “Sometimes, as an intern, you find yourself at an organization in more of a cog-in-a-wheel capacity. At LCF, I was always in the mix and in a position to see the effects of my work. I was surprised at how much I was able to accomplish over the course of the internship. Ultimately, I think that's the best position an intern can be in,” he said.

    Jacob was able to apply his experience with data analysis in the Navy to several of his projects at LCF, namely the DC Fast Charging Master Plan. This project aims to pinpoint ideal locations for DC Fast Chargers to create electric vehicle charging corridors along Louisiana‘s interstate highways. Jacob analyzed location data LCF gathered to create maps and charts showing the ideal locations for these chargers.

    "The most interesting project I worked on was our Direct Current Fast Charging infrastructure plan for Louisiana,” Jacob said. “I'm a huge data nerd, and it was genuinely exciting for me to be able to suggest areas where Louisiana has the opportunity to improve its electric vehicle infrastructure."

    Jacob also had the opportunity to participate in LCF’s Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Listening Session and the Electric Vehicle (EV) Roundtable event in Shreveport, LA, in addition to working with his fellow interns to create an Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) toolkit for organizations and businesses interested in installing EV chargers on their property.

    “I learned more in two months about the sustainability of electric vehicles than I thought I would learn in a lifetime,” Jacob said. “It's surprising how quickly the field is advancing, and it was a lot of fun getting to explain those advances to everyone else."

    “The coolest thing about working for LCF was meeting like-minded people who are committed to reducing petroleum use,” Sean Chung, a student of Indiana University pursuing Master of Public Affairs and a Master of Science in Environmental Science, said. “This internship has opened my eyes to many clean alternative fuel options that are often overlooked, such as renewable natural gas (RNG) and biodiesel."

    During his internship, Sean worked on creating an Idle Reduction and School Outreach program, which involved working with schools and teachers in the greater Baton Rouge area and providing them with resources for teaching about emissions and idle reduction.

    "It was really great to meet teachers and talk to them about what they could do in their classrooms to promote idle reduction. Encouraging students to engage their parents and measure the impact of vehicle idling at their schools will help change behavior and promote fuel conservation,” he said.

    Sean also worked with Jacob on the EVSE toolkit in addition to creating a Workplace Charging toolkit for organizations specifically interested in offering EV charging to employees. Sean worked closely with LCF’s Communications Coordinator, Victoria Herrmann, to organize and publish both of these toolkits as resources on the LCF website.

    "Making the EVSE and Workplace Charging toolkits to educate people about Electric Vehicles and EV Infrastructure has changed my perspective on the viability of EVs,” he said. “EVs can be key to reducing GHG emissions if there is infrastructure to support them."

    Brittny Wilson, a chemical engineering major at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, said that her LCF internship has turned her toward a newfound interest in an environmental career path. “I gained valuable experience with Louisiana Clean Fuels from enhancing my leadership skills and creativity and learning about environmental conservation,” she said. “This internship definitely got me thinking about a possible career path in environmental issues.”

    Throughout her internship, Brittny worked on various projects, including an independent biodiesel research project to gather information about the biodiesel market in Louisiana. She also worked closely with the Communications Coordinator to create a social media plan for the organization and begin implementing that plan to raise awareness and educate a wider audience of stakeholders and the general population. Additionally, she worked on school outreach, focusing on establishing relationships with the sustainability departments of Louisiana colleges and universities so that LCF can better work with these institutions.

    “I loved that I was given free rein to bring all of my ideas to the organization from my biodiesel project to social media enhancement to school outreach in a positive way and that there are results to show from it,” she said. “It was such a great work opportunity, and I got to work with some amazing people who all brought something different to the organization. It couldn’t have been any better.”

    Being an intern for Louisiana Clean Fuels can also mean traveling around Louisiana to speak with stakeholders, conduct outreach, or learn more about alternative fuel usage across the state. During their internship, Jacob, Brittny, and Sean all traveled with LCF Co-Coordinator Tyler Herrmann to visit St. Landry Parish Solid Waste to learn how the solid waste facility processes reclaimed methane into RNG used to fuel CNG-powered waste collection vehicles. During a visit to Shreveport, the interns also were able to take a tour of SporTran’s facilities, during which Dinero Washington, Chief Executive Officer of SporTran and a member of the LCF Board of Directors, showed off SporTran’s electric and CNG buses and explained their refueling procedures. Jacob was also able to join Tyler for a meeting with Bossier City School District to learn about their propane buses. "Traveling to St. Landry to see a fully functioning renewable natural gas facility or to Bossier City to see a fleet of propane-fueled school buses was a huge highlight of my internship," said Jacob.

    One commonality amongst the interns that LCF hires is a care for the environment and a desire to make a difference. Interning with LCF means these students have a chance to see their work being used to promote cleaner transportation alternatives that can spark environmental changes and awareness.

    “I really feel like I made a tangible impact on promoting fuel conservation in Louisiana,” Sean said.

    About Louisiana Clean Fuels & Clean Cities

    Louisiana Clean Fuels (LCF) was established in 1997 as an affiliate of the United States Department of Energy (DOE) Clean Cities program and received designation April 11, 2000. Formerly the Greater Baton Rouge Clean Cities Coalition, LCF operates as an independent, non-profit association supported through its partnership with the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources and its stakeholders.

    LCF is one of two Clean Cities coalitions working in Louisiana to build partnerships to advance affordable, domestic transportation fuels and technologies. Clean Cities builds partnerships with local and statewide organizations in the public and private sectors to adopt:

    • Alternative and renewable fuels
    • Idle-reduction measures
    • Fuel economy improvements
    • New transportation technologies, as they emerge.

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    FOTW #1098: More Than Half of Transit Buses in the U.S. Were Powered by Alternative Fuels and Advanced Technologies in 2018

    Source: EERE Fact of the Week

    According to the American Public Transit Association (APTA), alternative fuels and advanced hybrid drivetrains powered more than half of all transit buses in 2017 and 2018. In the ten-year period from 2008 to 2018, the share of conventional diesel buses dropped from 70% to 42%. Natural gas and diesel hybrid drivetrains have replaced the greatest share of diesel buses followed by biodiesel and “other” buses, which include hydrogen, electric, and propane.

    Source: American Public Transportation Association, 2019 Public Transportation Fact Book, Washington, DC, April 2019, Figure 14.

    Fact #1098 Dataset


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    LCF Goes to Shreveport

    Louisiana Clean Fuels staff hit the road this past July, heading to Shreveport for a myriad of events and meetings with topics ranging from EVs to CNG.

    LCF Member SporTran kindly offered their offices up as meeting spaces for our events. While in Shreveport, LCF hosted a CNG listening session, a summer board meeting, and an EV Roundtable with LCF member SWEPCO. 

    EV Roundtable

    On Tuesday, July 16, 2019, LCF hosted an EV Roundtable in partnership with LCF Member SWEPCO. The goal of the roundtable discussion was to educate attendees - mostly municipalities, utilities, and business owners - on electric vehicles, charging, market growth, and how they can take part in the EV Revolution. The roundtable also included a discussion of VW Settlement Funding for EV chargers in addition to a sneak preview of LCF’s DC Fast Charging Master Plan.

    CNG Listening Session

    On Wednesday, July 17, 2019, LCF hosted a CNG listening session for CNG fleets to discuss issues and concerns with their natural gas vehicles. This session was the first of several CNG listening sessions that LCF will host throughout the rest of the year. The sessions are primarily intended for the people who work directly with the CNG vehicles in their fleet as discussions are centered around maintenance and mechanical issues. The goal of these sessions is that Clean Cities coalitions who host them to report back to the Department of Energy (DOE) what issues their local CNG fleets are experiencing so that DOE can work on a more nationwide level to research and help solve these issues.

    Board of Directors Summer Meeting

    LCF also hosted its summer board meeting on Thursday, July 18. After the board meeting, Dinero Washington, Chief Executive Officer of SporTran and an LCF board member, took the LCF staff on a tour of SporTran’s buses. The staff was able to step aboard one of SporTran’s electric buses charging at its station, and Mr. Washington explained how SporTran handles keeping their transit buses charged. Upon stepping onto the bus, one of our staffers marveled at how quiet the low hum of the bus was. Washington responded, “It’s actually quieter than this. What you’re hearing is the noise from the charger. The bus is quieter when it’s running.”

    Our staff and summer interns were also treated to a tour of the natural gas fueling station at SporTran. We watched one of the buses fill up with CNG while Washington explained the fueling and storage process.                                                   

    About SporTran

    In 2018, LCF awarded Spotran with their “Trailblazer” award for operating a 100% alternative fuel transit fleet. SporTran uses only CNG and electric buses in their transit buses, and, as a result, they reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 1,532.9 tons and their petroleum use by 558,122 gasoline-gallon equivalents in 2017 alone. Not only have they done the incredible by switching to 100% alternative fuels – their CEO, Dinero Washington, has also been a leader in helping other fleets to move in the same direction.

    See photos from our trip to Shreveport in our 2019 LCF GOES TO SHREVEPORT GALLERY!

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