Charging Up

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CATEGORY: Internships, Academics
TYPE: Articles
RELATED PROGRAMS: Environmental Studies

Joel Mandella ’14
Berkeley, Calif.
Environmental Studies

Through my Minnesota Pollution Control Agency internship, I made it easier for Minnesota electric vehicle drivers to find the nearing charging station.

My internship in the agency’s renewable energy division was unpaid, but in my first month on the job, I did get to drive the agency’s electric Chevy Volt—an experience I can only describe as being in the coolest spaceship ever.

“I did get to drive the agency’s electric Chevy Volt—an experience I can only describe as being in the coolest spaceship ever.”

Since I had little previous knowledge about electric vehicles, the semester’s first weeks were filled with research on my own and finding MPCA experts to answer my questions. Later in the semester, I represented the MPCA’s electric vehicle task force at a St. Paul community event, explaining the basics of electric vehicles and demonstrating charging station use.

My main project was updating the Minnesota electric vehicle charging station databases by crosschecking maps from various map providers to determine which charging stations weren’t listed appropriately. I took GIS coordinates from the Department of Energy’s newly updated master maps and plugged them into each search engine to look for the charging stations. Then I notified the providers about the discrepancies and facilitated the updates that would make those stations publicly accessible online and via GPS navigators in cars.

I finished the assignment by creating a large poster showing every Minnesota electric vehicle charging station. (A Mac geography major taught me how to use the necessary software.) The final product shows the correct information about each station: the visual proof of all of my work.

PUBLISHED: 03/11/2013