Curious Crew: Meet the Interns

When you hear the word intern, what comes to mind? Running errands, refilling coffee cups, and making copies, may be a few things that pop into your head.  At PSI, though, things are different. Here, the word “intern” signifies a tremendous opportunity for real-life experience. It’s viewed as a time to ignite a perpetual sense of curiosity, a skill guaranteed to set interns on a trajectory for success.

This summer six interns arrived at PSI with diverse experiences and backgrounds. However we were all passionate about learning and problem solving – the universal trait that drives every PSI employee. For me personally, this internship has been incredibly impactful. From managing social media pages and planning events to writing blogs and evaluating analytics, I’ve had incredible opportunities to learn about marketing in a technical industry. Interning at PSI has challenged me in innumerable ways, especially in gaining confidence with decision making and blending autonomy with teamwork.

Needless to say, I will miss the PSI team as I return to Virginia Tech (VT) to complete my final year as a Hokie. I think I speak for the rest of the intern crew as well, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s what I discovered when I sat down with each intern to learn about their experiences. 

Hannah Heishman, Quality Intern:

Hannah plopped down in the chair and started chatting immediately. It’s been a busy summer as she’s worked full time with our team while also conducting researcIMG_0771h with her professors at Radford University (RU) where she’s earning a M.S. in Criminal Justice. When asked why she chose this major, she laughed and said, “Would it be corny to say NCIS?” Then, more thoughtfully, “I don’t want to be one of those people that says, ‘I wish I did this. I wish I did that.’” She was determined not to regret her decision and therefore pursued a degree in what she was truly passionate about. When a professor told her about the legal testing our company performs, Hannah thought it would be a good fit, and decided to intern at PSI. While here, she’s worked under Cedric Sirmons, our Quality Manager. She chuckled while describing his attention to details. “He’s really drilled that into my head,” she mused. Yet paired with an astute eye, he’s taught her to have confidence in her decisions and to use her resources to solve problems. As she approaches another busy school year, Hannah looks forward to learning the material through her classes and research.

Jacob Haag, Quality and Lab Support Technician Intern:

Some people live with the mantra, “work hard, play hard.” Jacob manages to work hard and play harder. That’s why his fellow interns love working with him. Jacob’s been at PSI well over a year and enjoys the experience he’s gained. As a Materials Science Engineer at VT, he spends a fair amount of time in labs in addition to classes. He explained that being in the lab at PSI is entirely different than at school. “There’s more free-thinking here,” he noted. Some of his favorite projects have included failure analysis. He also worked on an experiment with other interns and produced transparent wood. These projects have turned into great learning opportunities. One of the biggest challenges for Jacob has been learning to think outside the box. “You can’t always do what’s been done in the past,” he explained, “but you also have to adhere to safety.” Jacob thrives in this setting and hopes to apply what he’s learned to advance the medical field through medical device testing.

Bryan Bareford, Quality and Lab Support Technician Intern:

Bryan has loved science ever since the Christmas morning he received a children’s Chemistry set as a present. In addition to Chemistry; he also knew he had a passion for building things. “Put the two together and you get a Chemical Engineer,” he explained. Bryan is heading into his junior year at VT anPicture2d is a passionate Hokie. He’s learned a great deal over the past few months, including how to check in samples, documentation practices, and interpersonal communication. This summer he’s had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects. His favorites include the transparent wood experiment and nuclear reactor testing. When asked what the best part about PSI is, he immediately responded, “definitely the people.” He added, “Whether it’s the random chemistry lessons from Alan or materials lessons from Alex,” there’s never a dull moment. Bryan will be doing a full-time co-op with PSI this fall, enabling him to enrich his work experience and to keep benefiting from those random science lessons.  

Kyle Winfield, Quality Intern and Lab Technician Intern:

From cooking and sewing to hunting and off roading, Winnie is a man of many talents. He graduated this past May with a Physics degree from RU. Working with our Quality Assurance team, he has spent the majority of his time in the labs, doing glasswork, and overseeing new interns. Some of his favorite aspects of the internship include gaining experience in the labs and using the SEM and Keyence microscopes. He explained that one of the best lessons he’s learned here is time management. Working with Tina Paugh, our Senior Quality Control Specialist, he feels he received exceptional training. “She’s really good at teaching me how to do something and then will let me do it on my own,” he explained. She also taught him a great deal about taking responsibility for his work. Winnie loves the people at PSI and will miss the team when he leaves. However, exciting transitions lie ahead as he will be getting married within the next year. When it comes to his future career, Winnie plans to continue in the research and testing industry and is excited to apply what he’s learned at PSI.

Kearsley Dillon, Quality Intern:

Although he just graduated from VT with a B.S. in Biochemistry, Kearsley just can’t leave the classroom. In two weeks, he starts classes for his Ph.D. in Chemistry. He’s passionate about seeing how things are put together on the molecular level – how they react and what they’re composed of. As he explained, “All the things we feel, all the things we see, all the things we smell, it’s all Chemistry.” Kearsley has been working with PSI for a year and a half. During this time, he’s learned a great deal about attention to detail, especially for medical testing. “We test all sorts of things made out of biodegradable plastics,” he shared. He’s learned the importance of what our company is doing and from that has caught the vision for quality assurance. During his time here, he experienced the transition from the old facility to the new facility and loved seeing the company’s growth. In regards to his future, Kearsley explains, “science is my passion.” Those of us at PSI know he’s caught the science bug and will forever be a curious mind.


We’ve all been impacted by PSI. You can’t help it when surrounded by curious scientists who never stop asking “why?” We know that wherever we go, we’ll carry that innate curiosity and desire to solve problems deep within us – it’s who we are now.Picture1