Internships Offer a Variety of Opportunities for Learning, Real Life Experience
Science and technology majors work in industrial, laboratory and business professional experiences, ideally during the summer between their junior and senior year. Internships offer science and technology students a variety of opportunities that can enhance learning both in and outside the classroom and encourage professional development through interactions with working professionals.
Over the past several years, coursework became real for several science and technology students, thanks partly to NASA support for a new Undergraduate Internship Program (UIP) in the College of Science and Technology.
An architectural office in Morgantown was “home” for architecture major Joshua Frick for 8 weeks this summer. Alan Leary and Zachary Campbell spent their summers working on sophisticated biomedical electronics equipment used in local hospitals. UIP support allowed forensic science major Kristie Rhodes to attend a professional short course on Forensic Death Investigation.
Frick and faculty facilitator Philip Freeman, associate professor of architecture, worked with on-site supervisor Jason Miller, project manager/graphic designer and a Fairmont State alumnus, to design an internship at LAI, a Morgantown branch of Lakeside Architecture, Inc. Frick articulated the heart of the internship process in his UIP application, saying “I will not only apply my schooling to the internship, the internship will affect my education by giving me real-world situations to which I may relate new concepts. As I try new things and relate what I have learned to my career, I will be able to determine where I wish my education to go from this point; if and how I wish to specialize my degree and where I might best receive further instruction."
Campbell and Leary, both electronics engineering technology majors, worked with faculty facilitator Gene Turchin, associate professor of electronics engineering technology, to design their SciTech UIP projects in the Clinical Engineering Department at United Hospital Center and Fairmont General Hospital, respectively. Campbell’s on-site supervisors were Brian Cottrill, director of clinical engineering and Joe Robinson also of Clinical Engineering at UHC. On-site supervision for Leary was provided by John Brolin, manager of Clinical Engineering and David Reedy, also of Clinical Engineering at Fairmont General Hospital
Turchin’s primary goal for the internships is to provide his students with a real world experience, under the supervision of technically qualified and experienced engineers and technicians. For him, the biomedical electronics departments of hospitals provide unique internships “because of the complexity of the equipment and its critical operation in regard to human health and safety.” Leary, a non-traditional student who spent 3 years as a technical advisor to the Works and Physical Planning Department of a university in Southern Africa, additionally sees the internship as a foundation for future service projects. “Along with applying the knowledge and experience gained through this internship towards a career that is of interest to me, I would be able, as a volunteer, to pass this knowledge and experience on to facilities in developing countries.”
Rhodes and faculty facilitator Mark Flood put together a UIP proposal to support a unique “spring break” opportunity last March. Rhodes attended the Forensic Death Investigation course organized through the office of the Chief Medical Examiner, WV Dept of Health and Human Resources, held at Stonewall Jackson Resort. Rhodes’ on-site supervisor was Dr. John Carson, Chief Dental Examiner for WV and an adjunct instructor in the forensic science program at Fairmont State.
Other students found internships without support from the UIP. All Occupational Safety majors complete internships before graduation. This summer, students interned at Allegheny Power, Novelis, Hensel Phelps, AFR, Consol, MSES, Zenith Corporation, Foen, and Mylan Pharmaceuticals. Computer science major, Tim Kelley, interned with Dominion Transmission in Clarksburg as a Software Systems Engineer. Kelley has been working on applications that improve the efficiency of transmission pipelines for engineers. For chemistry major Lorah Wood, summer work at Mylan Pharmaceuticals provided a great way to test out her aptitude and interest in a chemical laboratory.