Gerba landed a job with Ductmate Industries Inc. the summer before he started at Cal U as a mechatronics engineering technology major.
Four years later, he’s helping the Charleroi, Pa., manufacturer of heating, ventilation and air conditioning components incorporate advanced manufacturing into its processes.
“Your machine is only as smart as its sensors,” Gerba says. “That’s
where we come in, to troubleshoot and repair and then do maintenance.”
Workforce development is an important strategy for Ductmate.
“Last year, I took the training wheels off and had Steve design a machine for us, with some guidance,” says engineering manager DanaSmith.
“He spent time behind the computer to do the design work. This year, as the capstone to his internship, we’re finishing up the fabrication.”
The experience complements Gerba’s classroom education.
“I’ve gotten to work with production workers, machinists,chemical engineers. Being out in the real world, you get to see all sides and learn to work as a team.
“It’s a huge resume-builder. A degree and an internship— that’s a great combination to have.”
Sometimes the value of an internship lies in the “soft skills.” Employers value leadership, communication, hard work and problem-solving — attributes you can’t learn from a textbook.
Strengthening these transferable skills has been one of the biggest benefits of senior Johnae Robinson’s internship. She’s an assistant manager at the PSECU Financial Education Center at Cal U, and she aspires to a career in mental health counseling.
“I approach a lot of people about our services, people I don’t know,” says Robinson, who majored in psychology and sociology, with a concentration in social deviance. “That definitely develops communication skills that I will need to have as a counselor.”
Handling confidential information is another area of overlap.
“We obviously have to take great care with people’s personal information, just as you have to in a clinical setting.”
And finally, representing a company on campus requires stellar leadership skills.
“Lots of people recognize me on campus as the ‘PSECU lady,’”Robinson says. “I want to set standards for new students.
“I want them to know that if they need something, not just with PSECU, I’m here to help.”
Geographic Information Systems
In the 19.5 square miles that comprise Peters Township,Pa., there are a lot of manholes, inlets and headwalls — all structures within the municipality’s storm-sewer network.
As an intern in the township’s engineering department, seniorAlexander Brady spent his summer and fall using the latest technology to pinpoint their locations.
Applying his skills in geographic information systems (GIS) –
his major at Cal U – Brady helped to create an online identification system for each structure.
“The GPS unit uses 20 to 30 different satellites that triangulate in a very precise manner,” Brady says.
“Let’s say a manhole is out in the woods. With a GPS point,they’re able to find that location pretty much immediately. It saves a lot of time for (staff in) Public Works.”
Brady worked with township staff and a consulting firm,getting a preview of public- and private-sector work environments. He learned the Python coding language and used a high-accuracy GPS data collection receiver.
“I didn’t just learn GIS,” he adds. “I’ve been able to learn about engineering terms and how things work at the municipal level.”
Professional Golf Management
Sophomore Rachel Wilson and Colby Roberts played a summer-long practice round of sorts as they interned in professional golf management.
Wilson spent her time at Valley Brook Country Club, inMcMurray, Pa. Roberts worked at Milwaukee Country Club, in River Hills, Wis.
The internships align with career options for PGM students:business operations, sales, instruction and tournament management.
Wilson and Roberts learned the basics, like how to fit golfers with clubs, give golf lessons, manage the pro shop, organize golf outings and assist with various golf leagues.
“I want to teach people to play golf,” Wilson says. “I learned a lot by shadowing the pro at Valley Brook.”
Roberts is also studying psychology, intrigued by the career options that a dual major provides. “This internship will definitely add to my resume. It was a fun learning experience – I didn’t even realize at the time how much I really was learning.
“Most of the (PGM) internships are paid, and the locations are great. It’s a very beneficial experience.”