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PA OPINION

Building a positive human future with our summer interns

At PA, we believe in the power of ingenuity to build a positive human future in a technology-driven world. When you put bright people and brilliant technology together, amazing things happen. That’s why our internship programme, now in its seventh year, takes a different approach to inspire and challenge penultimate-year university students.

A lot of internships support or shadow day-to-day activities. But our science and engineering interns have spent the last 10 weeks working in multi-disciplinary teams, applying their knowledge to create opportunity from extraordinary real-world challenges.

The group of 19 student scientists, engineers and designers have been working on eight projects, ranging from engineering more cost-effective diagnostic devices to designing a global asset tracking system. They’ve even described future scenarios for living in a world where climate change is restricted to a 1.5°C increase. We design each project to develop the practical knowledge of these extremely talented young people by pushing the boundaries of our own capabilities.

The freedom to take a different perspective

At the beginning of the programme, we organise the interns into multidisciplinary teams and give them a wide project brief. They take ownership of that project in a way that’s not typical of a university project or other internships – they define project deliverables, manage a budget and prioritise activities to get the project completed. 

Crucially, we don’t run intern projects we already know the answer to. This makes them more challenging, but also gives the interns more freedom to take a different perspective. And it means the project supervisors are learning along with the interns.

This year, the interns have helped us understand how you can rapidly generate consumer insights by embedding machine learning into Internet of Things devices, and how you can optimise a domestic fridge to reduce the amount of food waste. They’ve even shown how a quantum computer can solve the classic travelling salesman problem, a mathematical challenge that looks to optimise the route to a series of destinations.

Victoria Cheung, one of the interns working on the quantum computing project, explained what makes the PA internship programme so valuable: “It gave me the opportunity to work and learn alongside different capability groups. I’ve developed my interdisciplinary skills by applying what I know to different technical situations.”

Explore how we bring ingenuity to life at our Global Innovation and Technology Centre

Visit our centre

This approach of giving interns the chance to apply their ingenuity to real-world problems delivers impressive results. Last year, projects resulted in patented technology and prototypes that were taken to our clients. This year, projects based on Hyperloop and driver assistance technologies have already helped strengthen our links with academia and clients. And in the first six years of the programme, 20 of our interns went on to join us as permanent members of our team.

If you’re at university, have a science, engineering or design background and are ready for a challenge next summer, applications for our intern programme open every September.

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