College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

ME and HCI graduate student completes internship with Obama White House

Mechanical engineering graduate student Chloe McPherson
ME graduate student Chloe McPherson stands at the Press Secretary’s podium in the White House Press Briefing Room. Photo courtesy of Chloe McPherson.

Chloe McPherson – a master’s student in mechanical engineering with a co-major in human computer interaction – recently finished up her stint with the White House Internship Program under President Barack Obama for the fall 2016 semester.

The Omaha, Nebraska-native was among 165 students nationwide to be selected for this opportunity. Dakota Olson, a junior majoring in Global Resource Systems at Iowa State, was the only other student from the state of Iowa to be selected.

McPherson worked in the Domestic Policy Council within the Office of Energy and Climate Change. She said that her studies in mechanical engineering helped to prepare her for the work she did.

“At first thought it may seem unconventional for an engineer to work on public policy, but it is actually vital that the White House and government agencies have people with education and expertise in technical areas such as engineering working on energy and other issues. A background in engineering provides us with a unique technical understanding and perspective when analyzing policies and determining how best to solve some of our nation’s most complex issues,” she said.

She added that her time with the White House Internship Program was both rewarding and memorable.

“Working at the White House has definitely been the best work experience of my life thus far. The Obama White House is an amazing place full of brilliant, dedicated people who truly care about the future of our nation. Interns at the White House are fully integrated members of the team, and are given responsibilities on par to those of full-time staffers. You’d be hard pressed to find another work environment as incredibly fast-paced as the White House, especially in the last six months of an Administration. Each day was truly an adventure, and the many opportunities and challenges that presented themselves along the way have allowed me to grow as a person and as a leader. This has been a very humbling, fulfilling experience, and I am grateful for the chance to contribute to the legacy of a President whom I so fully trust and believe in.”

On campus, McPherson worked in the Virtual Reality Application Center (VRAC) where she researched ways to implement “digital information into the real world.” She, who holds her BS in mechanical engineering from ISU, also served as national publications chairperson for the National Society of Black Engineers during the 2015-16 school year.

More information about the White House Internship Program

The White House Internship Program provides a unique opportunity to gain valuable professional experience and build leadership skills. This hands-on program is designed to mentor and cultivate today’s young leaders, strengthen their understanding of the Executive Office and prepare them for future public service opportunities.

The White House Internship Program’s mission is to make the “People’s House” accessible to future leaders from around the nation.