MechE student Ali Edwards takes a breath of fresh air with Plume Labs
Edwards (MechE '17) at the Futur en Seine conference in Paris.

Edwards helps combat pollution by prototyping sensors at a vibrant Paris-based startup

As an intern at the Paris-based startup Plume Labs, sophomore Ali Edwards learned a lot about air pollution – especially how to monitor it. Since 2015, Plume Labs has sought to combat air pollution by providing tools and data to the general public, thereby empowering citizens to protect themselves and others. The co-founders of Plume Labs believe that “[i]nformation is the answer to fight off pollution,” and in this spirit, they spearhead the development of innovative products and services to make environmental knowledge more accessible to everyone. In summer 2015, Ali participated firsthand in the company’s mission by helping develop a miniature, portable sensor which allows users to measure pollutant levels in their location in real time.

Innovation and inspiration

Ali’s internship covered a broad variety of tasks in the development of this sensor. She engaged in “all the different stages of prototyping, from designing and manufacturing different versions […] to testing and analyzing their performance,” she explains. The design and manufacturing course she completed at MIT helped her feel prepared for facing the challenge of creating a prototype. Although she had not worked in this specific field before, her rigorous MIT training provided her with a solid foundation of determination and problem-solving. In addition, Ali attended three major technology conferences in Paris during her internship. At the Futur en Seine conference, she even had the opportunity to present the prototype to the public in French. She also drew great inspiration from the innovative startup culture in Paris, and was excited to witness the creativity and passion that dominate the French startup climate.

Tackling new challenges

Interning at Plume Labs also helped Ali gain greater understanding of what she may want to pursue in her future and career. She enjoyed working in a small company and having a hand in all details and aspects of her project. “Through my internship at Plume Labs, I gained amazing technical experience,” she notes. Beyond her own tasks, she also “got to work with an incredible team of professionals from all different backgrounds,” and was deeply inspired by their common passion for technology and the organization’s mission. Ali will not only take away her newly-minted technical skills, but also a sense that she can “tackle all kinds of challenges that may come my way in the future.” 

Through my internship at Plume Labs, I gained amazing technical experience designing portable air pollution sensors and got to work with an incredible team of professionals from all different backgrounds.

  • France
  • Internship
  • MechE