The Kentucky NSF EPSCoR Program has funded two undergraduate research internships at the Lexington, KY-based tech startup, PowerTech Water, LLC. In partnership with the University of Kentucky, PowerTech Water is working to develop revolutionary water treatment technology that can disrupt the water softening, waste water treatment, and desalination markets.

PowerTech Water’s two research internships were funded via the EPSCoR Internship (EI) program, which provides financial support to sponsor postsecondary student internship experiences with science and tech companies with an operating presence in Kentucky. The EI program allows companies to pay interns up to $5,250 for an 8-week summer internship experience.

“Interns that we’re getting through NSF EPSCoR have been great for this company.”

PowerTech Water’s leadership has lauded the impact of the EPSCoR Internship program. “Interns that we’re getting through NSF EPSCoR have been great for this company,” says James Landon, Chief Technology Officer of PowerTech Water. “We’re allowed to get a lot of little projects done that are really important as we start trying to make commercial devices.”

Last year, PowerTech Water leveraged EPSCoR Internship funding to support Jeffrey Rentschler, then an undergraduate student at the University of Kentucky. “My internship actually became my career plan,” Rentschler says. “After a year of working here, they finally hired me full-time, and I plan on being here for a while.”

“My internship actually became my career plan.”

This year, PowerTech Water again used EPSCoR Internship funding to support Kelsey Clater, an undergraduate student at Transylvania University. Clater acknowledges the importance of internships and the impact they can have on an undergraduate’s career path, “Internships have transitioned from being supplemental to expected for undergraduate students. It gives potential employers and schools an idea of a person’s abilities outside of the classroom.”

Throughout her internship, Clater is being mentored by Lindsay Boehme, a Research Engineer at PowerTech Water. Boehme praises the EI Program for providing Kentucky Science and Technology startups with the means to support meaningful internship experiences, “This really gives you an opportunity to hire students that can help you out in the summer, so I think it’s really a great program.”

Boehme hopes to inspire student interns to continue pursuing science and technology fields, “I hope it impacts them in a positive way. I hope that being a mentor to Kelsey gives her the opportunity to pursue engineering… there aren’t really that many girls in engineering… so I hope that I can be a positive role model to her and other students, and get them excited about science and engineering.”

About PowerTech Water:

PowerTech Water has developed a breakthrough in capacitive deionization water treatment, powered by INCION™, that can disrupt the water softening, waste water treatment, and desalination markets. This exciting, patented technology is applicable to many industries and can meet a variety of desalination needs.

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Cooperative Agreement No. 1355438.

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