Piece by piece, Del Mar engineering intern learns about India


As an engineering student, Kyle Joyner said he solves big problems by “taking them apart and tackling them piece by piece.” That’s how the Del Mar native is tackling his summer internship in India.

Joyner, who is about halfway through the program, is helping conduct a feasibility study on incorporating renewable energy into rural schools.

“In India, electricity is a big problem,” said Joyner, 21, a Torrey Pines High School alum, who begins his senior year at UC Berkeley in the fall.

“In a lot of India, especially in the rural parts of India, the villagers are underserved when it comes to having electricity,” he explained, adding that while most schools have power, it is shut off during work hours.

“So they may not have things like lights or fans or any kind of electronics in their education,” he said. “The idea behind this project is to see if something like a solar panel or a wind turbine could potentially provide them with their own source of electricity.”

Joyner arrived in Thane, Maharastra, at the start of June. He will return home in mid-August.

At the conclusion of his internship, he will submit a report and present his findings to Tata Sons, which sponsors the program. Tata Sons is the holding company of Tata Group, a global enterprise headquartered in India.

“People don’t have these things that we always take for granted growing up in America,” Joyner said. “If we’re able to make it work in just one school, make a good example out of one school so it could be applied to other schools in India — that would be the dream.”

Now in its eighth year, the Tata Social Internship program has 128 alumni.

A total of 16 students were selected to participate in this year’s program, including seven from the United States. In the U.S., it is open to students from UC Berkeley, UC Davis and UC Santa Cruz.

The internship program allows students to “gain a lot and contribute a lot,” said James Shapiro, the North American resident director of Tata Sons.

“It’s not only giving opportunities for the students that’s interesting and valuable, you get some great ideas from the students,” Shapiro said. “They have a different perspective.”

Joyner, who is also spending the summer completing medical school applications, said the program has given him a new perspective as he prepares for this next stage of his education.

“Seeing how a different society operates, what social problems look like in another country, have been really beneficial for my career goals,” Joyner said.

“I’ve really enjoyed this program,” he added. “I’ve definitely gained more perspective on understanding different cultures, in general. The young adults here are really not that much different from my friends back home. That’s been really cool to see.”