Internship Experience: Taylor Simcox

The College of STEM at Youngstown State University focuses a lot of time and energy on promoting internships and hands-on experience for its students. The students gain valuable knowledge through this work because it is more than just an extension of their education. Taylor Simcox, a recent civil engineering graduate, explained the importance of her internship experience with us.

Taylor interned at Union Metal Corporation in Canton, Ohio, starting in the fall of 2015. The primary focus of her job was designing poles that support traffic lights.

“Designing poles sounded like the most boring job on the planet and to be completely honest, I didn’t know poles required engineering,” said Taylor, thinking back on her first impressions of the job.

She had expected to be given intern-level responsibilities at Union Metal. After all, she was an undergraduate student working as a part-time, temporary employee. As time went by, Taylor learned and grew with the company, taking on a bigger role and handling more responsibilities.

“In the spring I was assigned my own state, meaning I would handle all calculations and drawings that came through for the state of New York,” she said. “This was usually reserved for full-time, experienced engineers.”

She continued to grow within the company, working hard and taking on more responsibilities as a professional engineer.

Taylor accepted a full-time position at Union Metal in June 2016, just before graduating in August. She plans to continue her education in the near future by pursuing a master’s degree in mechanical engineering.

At YSU STEM, student success is a big deal. We’d like to congratulate Taylor and wish her well for the future, and we’d like to leave you with a bit of advice from her:

“You have to express how you feel to your superiors. If you feel like you’re not getting enough work or if the work isn’t challenging enough, tell them. Show interest and ask questions, bug the right people for more responsibilities, and never let anyone tell you that you aren’t old enough or in the correct class level to apply for an internship.”

Taylor with concrete canoe

Hailey Sullivan named inaugural recipient of the Co-Op of the Year Award

Hailey SullivanHailey Sullivan, a junior majoring in chemical engineering, is the first recipient of the newly established Co-Op of the Year Award.

Sullivan participated in a co-op at ABB, a global leader in power and automation technologies, located in Wickliffe, Ohio, from January to August as a proposal engineer. She secured the co-op through a past Internship/Co-Op Expo.

“It bridges sales aspects and engineering, which is kind of nice because you get to see all different facets of the company,” Sullivan said. “A proposal engineer creates a technical document that details all different parts of a project, and then it’s sent to a customer so they can determine whether or not they want to purchase the engineering project.”

To complete these proposals, she had to do cost analyses, create system architecture drawings and create engineering estimates. Each proposal took anywhere from an hour to a week, depending on how large the project was.

“They actually gave me a lot of responsibility and freedom, so I worked on larger control system upgrades, and I was able to run risk-review meetings,” Sullivan said.

She said that being able to run the risk-review meetings gave her a lot of confidence. As a sophomore at the time, Sullivan was able to lead a group of people that were high up in ABB and answer their questions. She said that along with the proposals and risk-review meetings, she was given other small, side projects to work on.

“I wrote different work instructions, detailing our departmental processes, and then once summer rolled around when the new co-op came, they told me to be his mentor,” Sullivan said. “I had to teach him how to create proposals and everything.”

Sullivan plans to return to ABB in the summer, where she will be working with the systems group. Until then, she has her sights set on taking steps to further her education.

“Right now my plan is to study for the GRE over winter break, take that, and then during my senior year I will apply to grad schools and a bunch of jobs,” she said. “Ideally I will be able to get into a school close enough to a job that I acquire, and I would like to start pursuing a master’s while I’m working.”

Sullivan is involved in many STEM-related groups, such as the Chem E-Car team, the Society of Women Engineers, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Tau Beta Pi and the Stem Leadership Society.

Intern’s at Butech Bliss

Interns posing on the shop floor by some equipment.

Internships are an important part of gaining real work experience. At Youngstown State University (YSU), student internship opportunities prepare STEM majors for future careers.

This spring semester, three mechanical engineering majors, Joseph Myers, German Natal, and Brandon Strahin, are working at Butech Bliss, in Salem, Ohio. With a 125 year history, Butech Bliss builds coil processing equipment, rolling mills, custom applications and extrusion/ forging machinery. Many YSU alumni work for the company, such as mechanical engineer Robert Kerr. A 1983 graduate, Kerr joined Butech Bliss in 2005. Kerr said that working for the organization has been a …”rewarding experience.” Furthermore, he conveyed how the intern’s have been beneficial: “It immediately became obvious to me that their education at YSU had prepared them well for becoming potential assets to the company.”

All of the intern’s tasks vary. Strahin noted “The intern program cycles job duties so we can get experience in all of the different departments in the company. I think that all of the different job responsibilities really help in learning how the company works and how all of the different departments tie together.”

Myers furthered this saying how being involved in other areas permits…” to see how each part of a project comes together from the initial sale through production which helps my understanding of the business side of things.”Additionally, he has been prepared for the future by Butech Bliss …” allowing me to work on an actual project and being given the trust to do things on my own then receive feedback on the work I’ve done…”

German Natal said his experience has been beneficial because “At Butech, the managers place the interns in a position which allows them to work with engineers and shadow the job processes, along with participating in the job where applicable.”

More information about internships with the College of STEM is available on the Office of Professional Practice site here.

STEM Leadership Society provides opportunities for students

Being involved in campus activities is an integral part of the college experience, and students in the STEM Leadership Society (SLS) have the opportunity to do just that. The SLS focuses on bringing the most highly qualified high school seniors to YSU’s STEM College. Currently at 45 members, the SLS provides opportunities in leadership, academic enrichment and community service. By promoting interaction with faculty and business leaders, the SLS provides students with “access to all of the opportunities that would be available at a large, major research institution, but remains small enough so that students actually can take advantage of those opportunities” according to Martin Abraham, Dean of the College.

For active students in the SLS, the benefits are largely rewarding. Darrell Wallace, Associate Professor in Industrial Engineering and the new Director of the program, said students gain an advantage by having “…close interaction with faculty, exclusive academic enrichment opportunities, social activities, and access to experiences with SLS industrial partners.” Internships that provide real work experience enhance student’s job prospects, and the close connection that SLS students have with potential employers enhances their placement opportunities.

Vice President of SLS and mechanical engineering major Teresa McKinney noted, “I was even given the opportunity to meet with a large number of representatives from companies in the area and I am currently speaking with them about internship opportunities. By being a part of this group, I am gaining valuable networking connections.”

The goal of the organization, Wallace said, is to “create a strong, student-centric organization that provides unique and attractive opportunities for exceptional STEM students.” SLS Secretary and biology major Ashley Bowers confirmed that “SLS provides opportunities that otherwise students may not have.” In the future, SLS would like to host events with professionals in the community, to further promote student networking opportunities. As SLS continues to grow, so does their overall mission.

SLS members gathered at social event.

The SLS focuses on recruiting highly qualified incoming STEM freshmen. An initial application is used to provide information on those interested, and then a smaller group is selected for interviews by a faculty panel. The faculty is trying to identify those students who can excel at YSU, as evidenced by the students’ high school grades, participation in extracurricular activities, and teacher’s recommendation.

High school seniors who will be enrolling in a STEM program for Fall 2012 may apply for the SLS no later than March 1, 2012. The round of finalists will be scheduled for an interview on March 17, 2012, and the selected students will be announced by April 1, 2012.

More information on the STEM Leadership society is available on the STEM College website, and an application can be found here.

Cushwa Fellows

Three STEM graduate students are taking the next step in their academic aspirations. YSU graduates Kristin Frank, Michael Kovach, and Adam Palumbo are the recipients of the 2011-2012 Cushwa Commercial Shearing Graduate Fellowship. Established in 2003 by the Cushwa family, in cooperation with the YSU Foundation, the Fellowship gives outstanding graduate students real work experience through research and internships (working 20 hours a week for 16 weeks) and lessens the financial burden by granting a $15,000 stipend. For the Fellows, a great deal of their preparation began as an undergraduate.

Student works in the chemistry lab.

For chemistry student Kristin Frank, she said “as an undergraduate I spent the majority of my time studying and preparing for classes to ensure the best grades possible.” Her dedication has paid off. With YSU chemistry professor Dr. Brian Leskiw, Frank is conducting research in the physical chemistry field, and will be interning with Timothy Eastly, another YSU faculty member, through Toxicology Enterprises Inc., a Warren based drug and alcohol detection laboratory. Frank will be assisting Eastly with probationary drug testing. Frank said that the Fellowship…” has provided me with several opportunities I would have probably not otherwise had access to.” Frank’s future plans include obtaining her Doctor of Pharmacy degree.

Students gathered around equipment in engineering lab.

Michael Kovach’s mechanical engineering background has given him the opportunity to work with General Motors, Lordstown. Kovach is working on one of the main robotic arms in the planting department conducting a failure analysis (weakening of frequently used parts). Kovach said that when one of these arms fails, the production slows or shuts down; this can potentially cause a considerable loss of revenue. After completing his project Kovach said that…”we are trying to develop a monitoring system that would give an early indication of trouble so it could be fixed. If successful, it may be implemented on other robotic arms and /or other GM facilities.” With the Fellowship, Kovach said that he has gained “real life experience” and plans on obtaining his Professional Engineering license.

Students working on equipment.

Adam Palumbo, another mechanical engineering Fellow, has taken a different route with his research. Palumbo is working on using different technologies to cool surfaces of solar panels. Palumbo said that he was fortunate to have begun research as an undergraduate with faculty member Dr. Ganesh V. Kudav. Palmubo said this helped him transition to the graduate program, and the Fellowship has provided him with a “sense of responsibility.” Like Kovach, Palumbo also plans on obtaining his PE license in the future, after working full-time with a company.

The Cushwa Commercial Shearing Fellowship provides students with unique opportunities, and experience in their field. In addition to the three students highlighted, other Fellows include Brianne Ciccone, industrial systems engineering, Mark Macali, mechanical engineering, and Brandon McMillen, mathematics. Students with an undergraduate degree from any STEM discipline, including those who have obtained their degrees from other institutions, are encouraged. Also for the first time, students interested in the new PhD in Materials Science and Engineering are welcome to apply; the PhD stipend level has been established at $25,000 The next application deadline will be April 2012.

More information about the Fellowship is available here.

STEM College Implements New Ph.D. Program

The new Ph.D. program in Materials Science and Engineering focuses on industrial collaboration where students will participate in research projects relevant to current industry innovations. Dr. Hazel Marie, the program’s director, said, “The program is unique in its emphasis to produce Ph.D. students that will use their talents in local and regional industries.” The program received final approval this summer and is now accepting students.

 

The new program and related research will become a vital hub for regional economic development and position YSU as an urban research university. Faculty from multiple science and engineering disciplines will work together with industry partners to champion scientific, engineering and commercial development throughout the region and beyond. Program graduates will have significant internship and outreach opportunities that will have a major impact in the region. For more information on the program, visit the Ph.D. program website.

New Co-op/Internship initiative for Students

The YSU STEM College has enhanced its cooperative/internship program for students designed to increase employment opportunities.

Sherri Hrusovski, Coordinator of STEM Student Professional Services, plans to have the program in place by the summer semester of 2012. Internships are currently overseen by the different departments within the STEM College. Hrusovski is working to centralize the program so that students and employers can gather information in one central location. She said, “We need a happy medium that works for the department and the new program being developed.”

Students can choose between three types of academic work assignments – internship, co-op, or professional practice. This type of collaboration between the college, students and industry partners benefit all parties involved.

Not only do students gain valuable knowledge in their field, they build relationships within the industry improving their employment opportunities after graduation. Employers get a chance to work with students to determine if they can add value to their company on a permanent basis. Employers can share knowledge and cost for research projects by building relationships within the University. The STEM College benefits as well by creating new partnerships with employers to further research opportunities and collaborative efforts.

Hrusovski plans to develop new industry relationships with companies like BP Corporation, First Energy, GE Lighting and JM Smucker Company. She is developing new marketing pieces and establishing electronic networking opportunities. She is working on a link accessed through the STEM website where students, faculty, and employers can find pertinent information on various features of the professional practice services and programs. Employers can learn how to post internships and cooperative education jobs as well as how to recruit students on campus. Employers interested in finding more information about the program and posting positions can email STEM.jobs@ysu.edu.

Hrusovski is also working with the Williamson College of Business Administration to implement a central database, PPOD (Professional Practice On-line database), which stores student and employer information and allows them to easily connect with one another. For more information on PPOD, employers can visit the PPOD website.

Students and employers can also connect through mediums like the YSU Job Expo and Interview Day where students sign up to attend interviews for either internship/co-op or full-time opportunities upon graduation. They can interview with prospective employers like American Environmental Group, Farmers National Bank and CMI Industry Americas, Inc.

Hrusovski encourages all students to take advantage of this opportunity and said that it can take four to six months to find a job after graduation. She adds that 70% of employers hire students with some type of experience. They look for qualities like team management, leadership, technical competence, ethical behavior and motivation. Cooperative and internship programs provide those skill sets and promote future employment viability.