Students gain skills, experience in BTEC internship program

Published August 19, 2016

Participants in the BTEC summer internship program Participants in the BTEC summer internship program discussed their research projects during a poster session at the facility Aug. 10.

This summer, 21 undergraduate and graduate students completed internships at BTEC under the supervision of 12 BTEC teaching faculty and staff. While BTEC has provided internships for individual students in past years, this year’s program featured both individual and group learning activities in a more cohesive and structured environment.

The 12-week program, which began May 16 and ended Aug. 10, was organized based on the premises that students thrive when collaborating with peers and become better at managing time when they must meet periodic milestones. Interns were required to give three presentations about their research projects throughout the summer. The first two presentations, limited to 10 minutes each, gave students practice summarizing data into a concise format. For their final presentations, each student created a poster highlighting their entire project and discussed the project in a poster session that was attended by faculty and staff.  Through these various presentations, interns improved their technical writing, communication and presentation skills, and gained experience presenting their research both orally and in a written format. In addition to the required presentations, students working on analytical research projects met weekly for discussion sessions facilitated by Dr. Nat Hentz, who planned and managed the internship program. Dr. Hentz directs BTEC’s analytical lab and teaches BEC 515, Biopharmaceutical Product Characterization Techniques.

Research projects were as varied as students’ backgrounds and majors, which ranged from animal science, chemical engineering and computer networking/electrical engineering to food science, genetics and microbiology. Selected research projects, listed below, spanned a variety of areas.

Area Representative research projects

Analytical development

  • Automated liquid handling testing
  • DNA purification for in-process testing, and
  • Biosensor-based assay development

Downstream processes

  • Chromatographic process optimization
  • Investigation of non-woven membranes for virus purification

Upstream processes

  • Cell line development for scFv and scFab
  • Optimization of CHO cell growth in microbioreactor and scale-up comparisons

Student coordination/enrollment

  • Historical data mining and organization


  • Preventative maintenance system set up and population
  • Implementation of a quality system