By Ben Heinrichs
My name is Ben Heinrichs. I’m currently a junior at Columbus Alternative High School or CAHS. At CAHS, upper-class students are given the opportunity to do an internship with a local business on Wednesdays instead of attending regular classes. I chose Ecohouse Solar (Ecohouse) as the location for my internship. I already knew Ecohouse because they installed solar panels on my house in Clintonville in 2014. They put in a 6 KW PV system that has been providing most of the electricity for my home, for the last five years.
I chose Ecohouse as my internship site because I’m interested in pursuing engineering when I go to college, and I am also very interested in preserving the environment and the health of our planet. I wanted to see how these interests of mine are being applied in the “real world.” I have looked a various Environmental Engineering programs in Ohio and at this point this is what I want to study in college. Ecohouse Solar is a good example of a company that uses engineering when they design solar electric systems and they are also helping to reduce the amount of Carbon Dioxide going into the atmosphere, which helps with the problem of climate change. I am concerned how climate change may affect the world during my lifetime and I am motivated to do what I can to improve this situation. I like math and science and I think I will be able to use engineering skills to make a difference.
Students from CAHS intern at many different sites: from local schools, to Franklin Park Conservatory, to the Ohio House of Representatives. This unique experience allows students to experience different aspects of our interests and gain skills in our respective areas of interest. Every Junior and Senior at CAHS who is planning to go to college must to do an internship each year. The internship fulfills a 120-hour internship/volunteering requirement that must be met prior to graduating. The students work at their internships one day per week for six months from October to April. I am working at Ecohouse each Wednesday from 9 am to 3 pm.
So far, I have been helping with marketing and some administrative work. I am planning to go out to some job sites to learn more about the specific aspects solar design and installation.
Ecohouse uses some powerful solar design software which I hope to learn more about. I want to learn what there is beyond the theoretical information I have been reading. So far, I have been surprised how much record keeping and administrative work is required as part of Ecohouse’s operation. I also see how important marketing in a solar business. It takes a lot of work to find customers and then to prepare solar proposals and follow up with the customer prior to the sale.
I am off to a good start and look forward to learning as much as I can with my internship at Ecohouse Solar.