Sophomore Madison Nasteff spent the summer looking for ways to improve Kellogg’s manufacturing process, serving as an intern in the snack and cereal giant’s Kansas City plant.
“I actually applied for this internship in high school,” the Kansas City native and mechanical engineering major said. “I was part of a program called Northland CAPS, which allows students to spend three days a week in local manufacturing companies, learning about the processes and engineering that are behind the business.”
The program allowed her to split her time between the classroom and the Kellogg’s plant. Following her high school graduation, she completed a summer internship with the company, and they invited her back once she completed her freshman year at Rice.
“The difference between being a high school intern and being one is college was big,” she said. “There were so many things we weren’t allowed to do as high school students. I couldn’t go onto the floor without supervision. But this summer, I was able to walk up to people and ask them what they were doing and how things worked. It was a lot more responsibility.”
Nasteff was placed at the plant where Kellogg’s manufactures its Cheez-Its crackers, and was part of the department of continuous improvement. Her team’s task was to figure out ways to mitigate inefficiencies on the assembly line. She said that sometimes using a thinner cardboard or a different kind of glue to seal the box can be a tremendous time saver.
“What I really like about manufacturing is that it’s a holistic process,” she said. “You can change these small things and it makes for a different system. It’s amazing to me how very specific you can get.”
For Nasteff, the internship was not only a continuation of the experience she had in high school, but was also a way to see how the concepts she was learning in the classroom worked in industry.
“What I learned in Gen Chem about molecular changes and thermodynamics applies directly to the process of baking crackers,” she said. “It was cool to see the things I am doing in school having real applications in places I wouldn't have otherwise thought.”
Nasteff also enjoyed the fact that she was treated as a full team member by others in her department, and given real responsibilities.
In addition, she said the experience was a way for her to find out what kinds of things within manufacturing she liked to do. She intends to pursue more internships; for next summer, she’s looking into experiences in product design, but said she might go back to Kellogg’s to a cereal-making facility in Michigan, which would give her exposure to another side of manufacturing.
“I made great professional connections,” she said about her summer with Kellogg’s. “This was a great way to get a foot in the door.”