The Advanced Technology Center (ATC) provided six students with a unique hands-on experience by connecting them with two local companies, STIHL Inc. and IMS Gear.
Brenden Fritz, Austin Koontz and Xavier Scott were selected for an internship with the portable outdoor power equipment company, STIHL Inc., while fellow students Dulio Carrillo, Kyle Boardman and Zack Kopp were chosen to intern at IMS Gear, a company known for manufacturing gears for major automobile companies internationally.
“These on-site experiences provide the students with real-world opportunities to apply the skills we cover in class and learn new skills from professionals in the industry,” said Dr. James Barger, engineering technology instructor at ATC. “The entire experience lasts two days a week for a total of eight weeks, ending the week leading up to spring break.”
The students were required to fill out an application, show their professional resume and current high school transcripts, provide a writing sample and be interviewed by company employees.
Coming from a family of engineers, Koontz was glad to continue the tradition.
“Growing up my dad was an engineer, so I’ve always been more interested in working with my hands. Instead of reading about it in a book, I’d rather physically do the work. Internships like this allow a hands-on experience in the workplace to see if it’s really for you,” he explained. “It’s hard to think about a job field if you haven’t experienced it before.”
For senior Carrillo, this opportunity fit well into his academic and career plan.
“Since I’m graduating this year, I was really interested in participating in an internship where I could possibly work after finishing school,” he said. “I plan to apply for the apprenticeship program with IMS Gear. I can really see myself at IMS and looking forward to continuing my work there.”
Of the two IMS mentors the interns shadowed, one was a fellow VBCPS and ATC graduate.
“Knowing that he was in the same place I am right now feels good,” said Carrillo. “Maybe this time next year I’ll be the one mentoring ATC interns.”
Barger hopes that students gain a connection between what they are learning from the curriculum and the actual experiences in the workforce. “This program is an opportunity for our students to experience what it will be like to be on the job in a field that they have interest in.”
Scott said his time at STIHL has done just that. “This internship showed me how different the workplace is from school. It’s very different. What I like most is getting to ask questions from someone in the field you are interested in – on the spot. Asking the people on the line about their experiences help me figure out what I wanted to do in regards to college and what branch of engineering I want to do.”
Scott and Fritz have been shadowing STIHL maintenance technicians learning about electrical and mechanical engineering.
“I’m so happy to have this opportunity,” expressed Fritz. “Since I’m still in the year one [engineering technology] class, I’m still learning what branch of engineering I would like to get into. So, with this internship, I thought it would be a great way to experience different areas.”
In previous years, only second-year ATC engineering students were invited to apply for internships. This year, Barger welcomed first-year students to apply as well.
“After meeting with and discussing the internship program with both STIHL and IMS Gear, both felt that juniors and seniors could benefit from the internship experience at their company,” Barger said.
Both STIHL and IMS Gear have offered internship spots for VBCPS students for the past several years. According to Barger, all of ATC’s courses have industry partners that provide various levels of support to the classroom.
For more information on the program offerings at the Advanced Technology Center or becoming a partner with the ATC please visit their website.