When he graduated last December, Tyler Silverman (ChemEngr’08) wasn’t even in the country.
He was in Seville, Spain, getting ready to jump into a career in solar energy with Abengoa Solar New Technologies. After completing an internship with the sustainable engineering company during the fall semester, he so impressed company leaders that they invited him to stay onboard to continue his work on solar concentration. In May, Tyler began a full-time engineering position with Abengoa working on a project making superheated steam.
Tyler had his sights set on a senior internship in Spain since his sophomore year when he studied abroad on the country’s southern coast and loved the experience. To make it happen, he got help from engineering professor Al Weimer (MChemEngr’78, PhD’80) [June 2009 Coloradan] to contact the head of Abengoa who offered him an internship.
In his four months with the company, Tyler worked on improving the design of Stirling Dish solar concentrating technology. The stand-alone structures concentrate sunlight to a specific point where a local generator produces high-efficiency electricity. Temperatures at the focal point can easily reach 500 to 800 degrees Celsius and the device captures the equivalent power of 1,500 to 2,000 suns.
“I really felt like part of the team,” Tyler says of the internship experience, also mentioning that the 25-to-35-year-old age range of most employees made the work atmosphere less intimidating.
The youth in the company hasn’t stopped it from making an impact on the industry, though, and Abengoa’s solar tower was featured on the cover of National Geographic’s June 2009 collectors’ edition on energy. The company receives support from the Golden,Colo.,-based National Renewable Energy Lab and the government of Seville as a part of its energy initiative, which ultimately aims to fulfill all of the city’s electrical demands through solar power.
In terms of the cultural experience of living and working in Spain, Tyler says he initially found it hard to adjust to siestas and work-time socializing after spending four years intensely focused on his studies at CU. After getting used to it, though, he says the relaxed work ethic and the opportunity to travel and spend time with European friends can be “kind of refreshing.”