STIP Interns, Summer 2012

This year’s STIP interns and their research projects were selected in late March.  The quartet, all master’s degree students at Georgia Tech, will conduct their research during the summer and publicly present their findings in early September.

This year’s group will bring the total number of graduate student participants in the summer intern program to 30. Now in its eighth year, the summer intern program has supported graduate student ideas to promote Georgia economic development in a range of topical areas, from biofuels and Hispanic business growth to nanotechnology and the expansion of the Brunswick port. Since the internship started in summer 2005, many of the students have graduated and found jobs in various industries. For example,

  • Jonas Titus (2005 intern, Masters in City and Regional Planning at Georgia Tech), who worked with another intern, Phaedra Tucker, on the digital media industry, is working for the Texas Economic Development Council of Tyler, TX.
  • Wenben Xiao (2005 intern, PhD in Public Policy in the Georgia State/Georgia Tech joint program) examined IPO’s in Georgia and is now a venture manager with the Shanghai Pudong Software Park Company in Shanghai, China.
  • Mark Farmer (2006 intern, Masters in Public Policy at Georgia Tech) project was titled “”Creative Work in Savannah Georgia: Assessing the Technical and Artistic Climate in a Coastal City” and he is now the director of entrepreneurship and information services at the Gwinnett Chamber in Gwinnett County, Georgia.
  • Miguel Granier (2006 intern, Masters in City and Regional Planning, Georgia Tech) studied Hispanic entrepreneurship and has himself become an entrepreneur by founding Invested Development, a Boston-based, impact-focused, seed-stage investment firm launched in July 2009.
  • Alexa Stephens (2006 intern, Masters in City and Regional Planning and Public Policy, Georgia Tech) profiled the digital music industry in Georgia, served as a research analyst at the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, and is currently with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, where she works as an evaluation associate.
  • Nathan Moon (2007 intern, PhD in History, Science, and Technology, Georgia Tech) researched telework and telecommuting programs within Atlanta’s private sector and is now working as a research scientist at the Center for Advanced Communications Policy at Georgia Tech.
  • Patrick McKeon (2008 intern, Masters in Public Policy, Georgia Tech) researched nanotechnology opportunities for Georgia as an intern and is now a fiscal and policy analyst in the Delaware state government.
  • Ashley Rivera (2008 intern, Masters in City and Regional Planning and Public Policy, Georgia Tech) examined the benefits of harbor expansion for the Port of Brunswick and is now a senior program specialist in local government services for the Atlanta Regional Commission.
  • Jennifer Chirico (2009 intern, PhD in Public Policy, Georgia Tech) project report was titled “Waste Management Technologies: Potential for Sustainable Development in Georgia” and is now working as the executive director of the Sustainable Living Institute of Maui (SLIM) at the University of Hawaii-Maui College.
  • Rahul Jain (2009 intern, Masters in City and Regional Planning, Georgia Tech) examined green building trends in Georgia and created a database of green buildings for the state. Rahul is now a research associate in economic development and transportation at the Citizens Budget Commission in the Greater New York City area.

For 2012, the students and their projects are:

Shan Zhou, a student in the School of Public Policy, will examine the employment impacts of smart-grid policies and how to best position energy policies for long-term economic growth.  The research will apply input/output analysis to evaluate employment effects of five smart-grid policies in Georgia: interconnection standards, net metering rules, solar buy-back program, dynamic pricing initiatives, and smart meter program.

Zhou holds a B.S. in environmental sciences from Beijing Normal University and a master’s degree in environmental sciences, policy and management from a program jointly operated by Lund University, University of Manchester and Central European University. For the past two years, Zhou has been a graduate research assistant at Georgia Tech.

Also in the School of Public Policy, Lyndsey Nott intends to study characteristics of effective business tax credits that will enhance economic competitiveness in Georgia.  There is little data examining which of the nearly three dozen tax-credit incentives offered by the state are most effective, yet the Georgia Competitiveness Initiative advocates modifying and expanding the existing tax-credit program.  Via a comparative case study, this research will identify the most cost-effective tax credits and compare them with those of other states.

Nott earned a B.S. degree at the U.S. Military Academy and subsequently had duty assignments in Iraq and at Fort Carson, Colorado and Fort Hood, Texas.

Dan Cotter, a student in City and Regional Planning, will explore how integrating light Industry into mixed-use urban development could economically strengthen Georgia’s cities.  The project will identify, characterize, and classify certain light industrial uses, e.g., food manufacturing, life sciences enterprises, and other businesses compatible with walkable urbanism, and highlight best practices that make such mixed-use development possible.  In addition to policy and economic analysis, the effort will involve interviews with business owners, brokers, developers, architects and others.

Cotter holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the New College of Florida.  A LEED-Accredited Professional by the U.S. Green Building Council, he currently serves as a technical advisor to the Grove Park Community Land Trust.

Alison Pienta, also part of Georgia Tech’s City and Regional Planning program, proposes to examine how Atlanta is promoting human capital development and identify strategies the city could adopt to strengthen the local workforce.  Attracting, as well as retaining, businesses depends considerably on development of a skilled and capable local workforce.  The research will not only look at Atlanta’s efforts in this area but consider what has succeeded in other regions as well.

Pienta received a B.A. in sociology from Holy Cross, and, as an officer in the National Guard, served in Iraq and Kuwait.

The four interns were picked from 19 applicants.  The selection committee consisted of Dennis Chastain, Vice President, Community and Economic Development Georgia EMC; Mark Lytle, Director, Centers of Innovation, Georgia Department of Economic Development; and Pat Sims, Manager, Metro Community Development, Georgia Power Company.

STIP is a collaboration between Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute and School of Public Policy.  For more information on the intern program or STIP in general, contact Lynn Willingham (404/894-0730,