Summer interns developed their own product ideas

For six weeks, 17 students have been working as summer interns at Powel’s head office in Trondheim. Following intense weeks with challenging projects, this summer’s internship period is now over. At the end of last week, the four groups presented their projects to management, mentors and other interested employees. 

The theme for this year’s project was “co-creation”. The students were challenged to create innovative solutions that will benefit society within the business areas of Water, Asset Performance, Construction and Smart Energy

“The reason we chose co-creation as the theme is that this is very important in relation to the way we work in Powel. We often work across the different departments and we cooperate with customers and partners in order to find good solutions. We wish to have a continued focus on co-creation and one of the ways we achieve this is by mirroring it in our summer internship,” says HR Manager Kari-Anne Vik-Mo. 

Powel’s internship programme gives the students largely free rein to create their own projects within a loose framework. Assisting with insight, expertise knowledge, and assistance in shaping the task during the process, are experienced mentors.

"Throughout the internship, students work closely with experienced employees who share knowledge from their relevant business areas. To us, it is important that the information provided is tailor-made within each business areas, hence why each group has dedicated mentors,” says Vik-Mo. 

Challenging projects and ownership yield results

“The task was challenging and could perhaps seem a bit vague to begin with. However, attending the Summer School from Fornybarklyngen (The Renewable Cluster) in the first week was very useful. Here, the whole group got insight into both co-creation and design thinking, which was very helpful,” says Ellen Wagnild-Antonsen. “Additionally, the mentors from Powel helped a lot. The result is very good projects that both we, the groups themselves, and hopefully Powel are proud of.”

Wagnild-Antonsen was one of two project managers, together with Sigmund Sørensen Kielland. They say that Powel encouraged them as project managers, to own their projects, and that they chose to carry this way of thinking into their roles in guiding the rest of the students. 

“We decided early on that we would not micromanage the projects, but rather create ownership within each group. At the same time, we have been working closely with the groups, ensuring daily contact and weekly stand-ups,” says Sørensen Kielland.

Over the course of the project, encouraging the groups to go out and meet customers have been an important focus. Workshops have been another important focus and they developed workshops where the groups were challenged to test their ideas in relation to four main points; customer needs, solution, market and development. 

Convincing projects with market potential 

The final project presentations were both thorough and convincing. Some groups had chosen to go for all-new solutions, whereas others had looked at opportunities for complementing the current portfolio. Market analysis, financial calculations and insight from customers made up much of the background for the solutions.  

The students received positive feedback from the management group, who spotted market potential in several of the solutions. For Trond Straume, Powel’s new CEO, it was his first meeting with the students and Powel’s summer internship and like the other directors, he was impressed by the results. 

“I think there is a great span in the projects and it was very exciting to see how much they have achieved in such a short period of time. The various cases also contribute to the positioning of Powel as an ambitious and innovative player,” Straume said. 

In fact, the projects were so promising that for now details will only be shared internally in Powel. The internship might be over, but the projects might still live on. The business units will now assess if and how the projects can be developed further, and it would not surprise us if new and exciting solutions appear later on this year. So, watch this space, particularly if you work at a sewage pumping station, with excavation notices and cable detection, transport lists, or in local energy trading. 

Powel would like to say a big thank you to all interns for a sterling effort this summer!
Details and application deadline for next year’s internship will be published sometime this autumn.