With PennTAP’s support, Penn State student intern helps PA mining company accelerate industrial and environmental sampling

Our student intern was a tremendous help in all aspects of the day-to-day and month-to-month activities of an Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) coordinator.

David Arendash, EHS Manager, US Silica

The Need

PennTAP is uniquely positioned as a key industrial partnership resource at Penn State, providing mutually beneficial opportunities to both small to mid-sized companies and students across the commonwealth. In spring 2023, PennTAP technical advisors re-engaged past clients to identify opportunities for students to support businesses for out-of-classroom hands-on learning opportunities.

One company who was eager to get student support was US Silica Mapleton Depot, an industrial sand mining company. They had a need for intern support to help monitor and address safety concerns, accompany regulatory officials during inspections, and assist, train and educate plant management and employees.

The Project

PennTAP advisor, Amy Jorden, assisted US Silica with registering and posting the student intern position on Nittany Lion Careers. Amy also shared this position with key university contacts and the position was soon filled by Ben Feidler, now a senior in the Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, majoring in environmental systems engineering.

Feidler’s internship with US Silica spanned June to August 2023 and offered a beneficial fusion of academic learning and real-world, practical application. Feidler actively engaged in diverse tasks, contributing significantly to the company’s environmental, health, and safety initiatives.

Outcomes and Benefits

Over the course of the internship, Feidler worked closely with David Arendash, US Silica’s EHS Manager and even became a trained miner for surface and nonmetal operation under title 30 CFR part 46. Feidler was able to gain valuable experience and assist US Silica with inspecting and documenting workplace exams, entering data for the plants Discharge Monitoring Reports and Hydrological Monitoring Reports for five different NPDES Permits for a three-month period, conducting field sampling of NPDES outfalls, sampling wells, and stream monitoring points and working with a chemical supplier to determine optimal concentrations of coagulants and flocculants to control TSS, Al, and Fe.

Through this experience, Feidler was able to assist US Silica with:

  • Accelerating their industrial hygiene (IH) sampling, completing it four months earlier for the year
  • Accelerating the completion of numerous environmental sampling tasks, freeing up time to address other concerns

In support of this internship, PennTAP was also able to offer Feidler a scholarship to cover expenses associated with travel accommodation to the US Silica facility. Funding for this scholarship was financed in part by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community & Economic Development.

“None of this would have been possible without PennTAP, and I am beyond grateful for their commitment to giving me meaningful work experience this summer,” said Feidler. “They facilitated the advertising of the internship on Nittany Lion Careers, which made it discoverable for students like me still trying to find industry experience. PennTAP reached out offering a scholarship soon after I accepted the position, and ensured it was awarded before an incoming deadline. They communicated clearly what it was, why I had been chosen, and when/how I would receive the award.”

PennTAP is committed to helping achieve nine of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Of those nine goals, this project aligned with:  

About the Client

US Silica, Mapleton
12942 Oriskany Road
Mapleton, PA 17052
Phone: (814) 542-2561
Website: https://www.ussilica.com/locations/mapleton-pa
County: Huntingdon
Industry: Industrial sand mining