My Experience Interning at Eaton
John Turner, MBA Candidate 2019, Fowler Family Fellow
This summer I worked as a Sustainability Intern at Eaton Corporation, a multinational power management company. I was located at the company’s operational headquarters in Beachwood, where I enjoyed a great view from my desk looking east over the Chagrin Valley.
During my time at Eaton I got to work on several projects with the sustainability, supply chain, communications, and human resources teams. These projects included reviewing third party criteria for corporate ESG standards and developing an internal environment and safety classification catalog for Eaton’s products, calculating water and energy savings from company initiatives, and investigating ways to eliminate conflict minerals from the supply chain.
Some of my favorite projects were smaller and impromptu like sourcing the building’s electricity from 100% renewable energy and researching how to make the windows bird-safe. While talking about for renewable energy options with the Director of Sustainability, I mentioned that since Ohio has a deregulated energy market, any customer can choose a 100% renewable energy plan if they so desire. After that it only took a few emails and a quick meeting to contract for 100% clean energy for the building through 2020. Eaton is an example of an environment where, when presented with an opportunity, people act. The other fun side project was finding a cost-effective way to birdsafe the buildings windows: I found a product the company could use on the windows that, unlike other options, would not have to be replaced every couple of years and also would not obstruct the view from inside the building. It was good to have the chance to use some of the concepts I have studied at Weatherhead like embedded sustainability into practice in the private sector.
In the second half of the summer, our Sustainability Technical Lead left to pursue an MBA, and I unexpectedly got to take on a number of her jobs. One task was to help prepare our report for the Carbon Disclosure Project, an organization founded in 2002 through which companies voluntarily disclose their environmental impact. Eaton is one of 6,000 participating companies. I calculated the company’s water, energy, and greenhouse gas savings in 2017. In my last week at Eaton I had to put aside the other project I was working on to do this, though I had a chance to finish that project too on my last day. Flexibility is an important life and work skill.
The project I completed on my last day was an article on what additive manufacturing can do for sustainability. Old fashioned subtractive manufacturing required smelting materials, a significant portion of which would be wasted. It also had large infrastructure requirements, which led to long supply chains. These long supply chains consume conspicuous amounts of energy for transportation. Additive manufacturing only uses as much material as actually goes into the product. The related machines, like 3D printers, are versatile, allowing individuals or companies to take advantage of economies of scope instead of economies of scale.
What exactly are economies of scope and scale? Economies of scale involve efficiencies resulting from a single process being done on a massive scale; for example, making a single component of a finished product in bulk. Economies of scope, on the other hand, involve efficiencies resulting from many processes being run in close proximity at the same time; for example, using a few 3-D printers in one facility to make most of the components of a finished product. Therefore, a switch to additive manufacturing provides the opportunity to make all or most of the components of finished products in one location, saving time, money and energy on transportation and logistics.
Intriguing as each of my projects at Eaton were, my favorite part of the internship was the colleagues I got to work with. Each of them was working in their chosen field because they saw the opportunity to create something of benefit for the world. It was a privilege to be part of that.