L&M Radiator hosts high school student Kyan Sparks for an engineering-focused internship that gives him a real-world perspective of careers in engineering.
Hibbing, Minnesota — Kyan Sparks is a junior at Hibbing High School, but someday, he is determined to obtain his B.S. as an engineer, followed by becoming a commissioned officer in the Air National Guard as a pilot. L&M Radiator, an industry-leading manufacturer of heat exchangers for the mining, oil, and gas industries, is helping him get first-hand experience to begin his career in engineering.
The son of a U.S. Marine, Kyan has been interested in joining the military as a pilot and engineer for several years, but it was the 2022 movie Top Gun: Maverick that solidified his interest. To kickstart his life goals, Kyan joined L&M Radiator’s Research & Development Department as an intern. Through this experience, he is gaining industry knowledge via various research projects and is obtaining an inside look into the day-to-day work of an L&M Radiator engineer.
“My motivator is to learn about the engineering process and other specifics that you can only learn from a job instead of in a classroom,” said Kyan “That will help me in the future to get the career that I want to have and be happy with it.”
Kyan was introduced to the internship as a part of Hibbing High School’s work-based learning program, which connects students to jobs and internships related to a career in which they have shown an interest. Students receive one-half credit per semester based on their work in the real world and are granted the opportunity to leave school a few hours early to attend their jobs. The work-based learning program is one of three career readiness programs at the school, including Career Academies and Youth Skills & Training.
“It’s been about 17 years now that we’ve worked with L&M Radiator, and it’s been awesome to see how L&M has taken this program and run with it,” said Jennifer Sparks, Career Academies Program Assistant at Hibbing High School. Sparks also just happens to be Kyan’s mother. “I think it is amazing that they offer this opportunity so that kids can try things out and see if a career is a good fit before investing their time and money into pursuing it. I think it’s just awesome.”
The last student that held Kyan’s intern position continued working at L&M Radiator through the summer between her Junior and Senior years of High School, before becoming a full-time PSEO student of the Iron Range Engineering program offered through Minnesota North College – Virginia Campus.
Engineering isn’t the only internship path that L&M offers to students. Jennifer Sparks notes that L&M Radiator offers a three-week-long internship to the school’s most advanced welding students.
As a career counselor and mother, Jennifer Sparks could not be happier for, or prouder of, her son.
“I’m very, very proud of Kyan,” said Sparks. “He has taken a lot of initiative with his internship and he’s learning life lessons very early on.”
Outside of his schoolwork, Kyan practices a variety of hobbies. He enjoys going to the gym, playing video games, and hockey. This winter Kyan looks forward to playing defense for the Hibbing High School Bluejackets hockey team.
Internship Builds Upon Knowledge Gained in High School Classes
Kyan’s school day routine begins at 8:00 a.m. with his Introduction to Engineering class, followed by College in the Schools (CITS) Chemistry, CITS Algebra II, after which he attends his Social Studies and English classes. Around noon each school day, he leaves for L&M Radiator for his engineering internship.
On the job, Kyan works under the supervision of L&M engineers to test various tubes to determine their flow rates. While some students struggle to connect what they learn in the classroom to their life after high school, the problem-solving skills Kyan applies to his internship are real-life applications of the chemistry and mathematics he’s learning at school.
“For the tubes that I test, that data has to be written down in such a way that it can be easily compared to other tests and is easily accessible by other people,” said Kyan. “I had learned in my Introduction to Engineering class how to use an Excel spreadsheet, so I was able to put all the data for my internship into a spreadsheet, make graphs, and compare them.”
A First Job with a Lasting Impact
As an intern, Kyan gets the unique opportunity for his work to make a real impact across the globe – an experience most youth don’t have until they are well into their career. As a powerhouse in the worldwide mining industry, any radiator or tube that comes out of an L&M Radiator facility is required to live up to its reputation of near indestructibility in the field. By ensuring the perfection of the tubes that go into these radiators, Kyan is helping to carry on this legacy.
“One of the new tests that we had set up was for a customer in Siberia,” said Kyan. “They had called L&M and asked if we could send somebody out to look at their engines. People all over the world really trust us to help them out. It’s cool.”
For other students with busy schedules who are considering an internship with L&M Radiator, Kyan has one piece of advice:
“My advice would be don’t get discouraged when you don’t know the answer,” said Kyan. “There are plenty of times that you might get discouraged, but that is only because you are learning. It happens to everybody. If you keep going, it will turn out well.”
Learn From the Best with L&M Radiator
To learn more about work opportunities at L&M Radiator, visit www.Mesabi.com/careers/.