Patients who are treated for blood clots might have Nicole Schrader to thank for aiding their recovery.

Schrader, a senior at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, spent her summer interning in the engineering department at Surmodics Inc., in Eden Prairie, Minn. The company specializes in making coatings to go on other companies’ medical devices. Surmodics also recently began making its own full medical devices, Schrader said. The coatings and devices help with detection and treatment of diseases.

Schrader was assigned to work on a drug-coated balloon that goes into arteries to help remove blood clots. Her job was split between lab work and data analysis.

“Sometimes, I’d go into the lab and take samples of that drug so we could verify what we’re using is within the right specifications. Everything is triple-checked,” Schrader said.

“The other half of the time, I’d be at my desk doing data analysis on samples I took or others took. One of the projects I worked on, we had a drug we kept for awhile and we’d see how long that drug was good. When we make a product, it’s not going to be used right away. It’s going to be packaged and sent off, so we want to make sure that drug is lasting until it gets used. I was doing tests on drugs maybe every couple of weeks to see if it was changing and how much.”

Surmodics is a smaller but growing company, which Schrader liked because of the experience she gained.

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“I got to see everything from making that drug that was going to go on the balloon up until they packaged it,” she said. “It couldn’t have been better. It really gave me the experience I was looking for.”

Her internship melded Schrader’s interests in chemistry, engineering and medicine, and it allowed her to work and learn in her home state of Minnesota.

“Out of high school, I knew wanted to do something in the medical field but being a doctor is not what I wanted,” Schrader said. “Engineering piqued my interest and chemical engineering was a really good path for me. Freshman year, I learned about biomedical engineering at Mines.”

At the School of Mines, 77 percent of students complete internships related to their majors before they graduate. Schrader’s internship was one of several this summer that provided students with real-world experience at powerhouse companies such as Tesla, Garmin and NASA. Students whose internships put them in cutting-edge industries include:

  • Zachary Hogan, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering. He interned with Full Swing Golf in Carlsbad, Calif. He worked with their Virtual Green, a mechatronic putting green capable of creating customizable putting landscapes. He traveled to NBC Gold Channel studios in Orlando, Fla., to assist in studio renovations involving the Virtual Green. Hogan is from Hartford.
  • Laura Staiano, a junior majoring in industrial engineering/engineering management. She interned at the Tesla Gigafactory in Reno, Nev. The Longmont, Colo., native helped with testing and implementing new products and processes into Tesla’s manufacturing lines.
  • Joshua Duklet, a senior majoring in computer science. He interned in the aviation department at Garmin in Kansas City, Kansas. During his internship, Duklet debugged and improved features in existing Garmin products and helped develop features in Garmin products that will be released later. He is from Watertown.
  • Rhys Baker, a senior majoring in mining. He obtained an internship with the Institute of Makers of Explosives in Washington, D.C. As the Institute’s first intern, Baker worked with countries such as South Africa on software to analyze risk. He also visited Capitol Hill to experience policy being made. Baker is from Columbus, Ohio.
  • Abbi Elger, a senior majoring in physics. She participated in the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships program, coordinated by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y. Elger worked on a quantum science project that may help communications become “hack proof.” Elger is from Beulah, N.D.
  • Trevor Bormann, a junior majoring in metallurgical and computer science. He landed an internship at the NASA George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Bormann worked as part of a materials science team designing the fuel component for a nuclear thermal propulsion rocket. He is from Sioux Falls.
  • Abby Otten, a junior majoring in physics. She interned at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead. She worked on the MAJORANA Demonstrator experiment, which could hold the answers to some very important questions about our universe, including “Why do we exist?” She is from Aberdeen.
  • Charles "CJ" Williams, a sophomore majoring in computer science. He interned at Lockheed Martin in Denver. He worked as a software developer on a project called Military Support Program. Due to the security required during his internship, Williams is unable to share more information about his duties. He is from Parker, Colo.
  • Taylor Haire, a junior majoring in science, technology and society. She interned/shadowed with the Rapid City Police Department in the CSI lab. Her internship has now earned her a school-year job with the RCPD Evidence Department. Haire is from Fruita, Colo.

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