Engineering may be a challenging major, but senior Sarah Robinson, a member of Milligan’s inaugural mechanical engineering program, finds creative ways to extend the subject matter beyond the classroom.

This summer, Robinson traveled a short distance from her hometown of Elizabethton, Tennessee, to intern at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Knoxville, Tennessee. For her internship, Robinson created technical drawings for a software tool being developed through the Department of Energy.

Additionally, Robinson wrote training materials for other engineers.

“They used me to write the engineering materials because if I can understand it, any engineer in the field can understand it,” Robinson quipped.

During her internship, Robinson was exposed to innovative research and various opportunities available to engineers.

“The team I worked with was a small part of the whole lab,” Robinson said. “It inspired me to know how many career options I have as an engineer and to experience how my degree can make a difference.”

She toured the various departments within Oak Ridge National Laboratory and viewed some of the lab’s most notable technologies, including Summit, currently the fastest supercomputer in the world, and the preserved X-10 Graphite Reactor, the world’s second artificial nuclear reactor built for use in the Manhattan Project.

“This experience showed me that there is still a lot to learn,” Robinson acknowledged. “I learned to ask questions, and I know my experience will help me with my classes this year.”

Robinson offers a word of advice to those seeking a similar internship or opportunity.

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions,” she said. “The people you’re working with have so much information, and 95 percent of them are willing to help you and teach you as much as they can.”

For more information on engineering at Milligan, visit

Written by Elizabeth Dykes (’21)