By Annie Giannetti
This year, thanks to MassDevelopment grants, engineering students at Cape Cod Community College (4Cs) had the opportunity to experience what it is like to work in the field they are pursuing.
“We can teach courses, but so much of the job is tied to hands on application,” said Rick Bsharah, head of the Engineering Technology and Applied Sciences Department. “We also wanted to show employers and the community the caliber of our students.”
Bsharah was instrumental in writing a grant for the MassDevelopment Advanced Manufacturing Program, known as an initiative called AMP It Up. The grant provided funding for paid internships for students pursuing a career in Engineering Technology and Advanced Manufacturing.
Engineering Technology and Advanced Manufacturing became a degree program at 4Cs just recently, in the fall of 2015. Alex Russo, Career Development Counselor, is a part of Guided Pathways to Success in STEM (GPSTEM), a twenty million dollar program grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. Russo said that part of the GPSTEM grant was developing the first engineering degree program at 4Cs.
“The goal was to stimulate students going into science and engineering,” said Russo. Part of his job deals with helping students with resume writing, college and career navigation, and internship development and placement.
While the GPSTEM grant funded the development of the Engineering Technology and the Advanced Manufacturing degree program, the AMP It Up grant funded a salary for college interns at small to mediums sized manufacturers on Cape Cod. Thus, the interns were provided a rich experience in manufacturing at no cost to the businesses.
Bsharah and his department, with help from Russo, identified the companies where the 4Cs interns were placed. “Many of the companies are part of the Industry Advisory Board,” said Bsharah, “They are a group of businesses that look at the courses we are offering and give us feedback.” Every academic department at 4Cs has an Industry Advisory Board, according to Bsharah.
The internships for 4Cs engineering students began in the fall of 2016. Those qualified for the internships were typically in students beginning their third semester last fall. A specific course set of the pathway’s core courses was needed for eligibility.
Gianni Hache was one of eight 4Cs students placed in an engineering internship this past fall. Hache interns for Atlantic Design Engineers. He wrote to Russo and said that his internship has been a very informative journey.
“Engineering internships allows new interns to integrate what they have learned in the past, whether it was in high school, or recently in college,” Hache said. “Problem management and time management is a great responsibility in this internship.”
Patrick Rocha, another 4Cs engineering student, interns for Remote Sensing Solutions. The CEO of the company, Mike Fernandes, wrote to Russo pleased with the success of his intern.
“Cape Cod Community College is playing an integral part in supporting our growth by providing us with talented engineering interns,” said Fernandes. “Most recently Patrick Rocha, a mechanical engineering intern, helped design a radar system that will be deployed at Mammoth Mountain in California.”
Funding for the Amp It Up grant ended on January 31, said Russo, but seven out of the eight interns are still employed with their companies, which are now paying their salaries.
The 4Cs engineering interns are paid $12 to $15.50 per hour, according to Russo. Their work schedule was flexible, and the interns worked with the companies around their class time. “Some worked five to ten hours per week, and some worked thirty plus hours a week,” Russo said.
“We are applying again for grants,” said Bsharah. “We are always looking for more internships.” He said even if the grants do not go through to pay interns salaries, there are employers who would like to take on more engineering interns from 4Cs next year.
“Internships are a great way to build career experience before your career, they are not just for students at four year schools. They are a great way to gain experience, and a great resume builder.” Russo said.
“If you are not an engineering student, there are other internships.”
More information about internship opportunities can be found by contacting Career Services and Experiential Learning. Those interested in an internship should begin preparing eight to fifteen weeks before their desired start date.