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By Erin Shaughness

Dart Scholars Reflect: Work-X exposed me to a whole new world of engineering

As a high school junior who has yet to decide on a career path, I believe getting involved in Dart’s Work-X programme was the best way to spend this summer. In doing so, I gained exposure to engineering, which is just as appealing to me as it is broad and intimidating.

I worked on the Development Planning team with a focus on energy systems for Dart properties, primarily The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman and Cayman International School.

My in-office tasks included research and writing, data analysis, meetings and lessons. Site visits complemented this work as practical examples of what I learned from preceding lessons; to say the least, the real world was more complicated than the elementary diagrams I’d studied beforehand.

student at CIS
Erin Shaughness spent her summer learning about engineering through Dart's Work-X programme. Part of that experience included conducting an energy audit at Cayman International School and examining all areas of the school's energy resource management.

I was utterly fascinated by the scale and management of Dart’s operations and I extended my internship upon returning from my first site visit.

When I caught a break between tasks, my motivation shifted; I was unnerved by my own ignorance, and it seemed I had 10 new questions for every one that was answered. For example, I now know more about HVAC than I did previously. However, I would need to carry around a handbook full of things I don’t know about HVAC if I were to inspect an air conditioning unit tomorrow.

student headshot
Erin Shaughness

HVAC systems involve fans and motors, both of which I knew little about and therefore researched while unoccupied: How do three-phase AC motors work? How do centrifugal fans and axial fans compare? Ordinary mechanisms have become complete mysteries to me, but for someone who has a 10th grade-level grasp on science, I managed to learn a lot.

During the last stretch of my internship, I introduced CIS to a new resource management software and performed an energy audit for the school. I then presented my findings to a group of property managers, engineers and financial analysts, with special emphasis on emerging energy efficiency policies in the U.S. that might inspire similar government action in Cayman.

This article was originally published in the September/October 2022 print edition of Camana Bay Times.

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