When a Colorado State University-Pueblo student learned field experience was a requirement for her academic program, she sought out a guest lecturer and Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP) employee for advice that eventually led to an internship with a plant systems contractor and a bachelor’s degree in biology.
The student, Alexa Snyder, said she contacted Brian Ramdwar, laboratory operations branch manager at PCAPP who also lectures at the university, to seek out a practical experience at the PCAPP Laboratory.
“Alexa was able to see the interworking’s of a typical laboratory environment,” Ramdwar said. That experience included how to use the Miniature Continuous Air Monitoring System (MINICAMS) and the gas chromatograph tools that monitor the air for mustard agent.
“It was a good experience,” said Alexa Snyder, who graduated in May. “It was nice to be able to apply some of the things I learned in school to real life.”
“Students do get some exposure to the gas chromatographs on campus, but it’s good for interns to see the latest instrumentation and how they are used on a real project,” Dr. Helen Caprioglio, CSU-Pueblo biology professor said after touring the PCAPP Laboratory.
Snyder said she was also able to see, first-hand, the roles the environmental department and the medical facility play in the destruction process.
“She saw the importance of ensuring all output from the PCAPP facility maintains the integrity of ecology and the importance of screening possible outcomes,” said Mechelle Cass-Burrell, gas chromatography/flame photometric detector/mass selective detector operator, PCAPP, and Snyder’s on-site mentor.