Manufacturing Center interns learn by doing

Marshall University students from a variety of backgrounds accrue real-world experience through hands-on internships at the Marshall Advanced Manufacturing Center (MAMC).

This semester, four interns from varied fields of study discovered that MAMC offers a rich opportunity to enhance and develop their professional skills and gain valuable insights from industry experts in a state-of-the-art professional setting.

For their MAMC internships, Luke Lanham of Cross Lanes and Antonio Ovalle of Mount Hope, both mechanical engineering majors, worked side by side with engineering and manufacturing professionals through Marshall’s College of Engineering and Computer Sciences Co-Op Program. Antonio and Luke performed a broad spectrum of manufacturing tasks – from creating CAD (computer-aided design) drawings to operating 3D printers and computer-controlled machines to produce a variety of client projects, including ones that ignited particular passions.

For example, Antonio was designated as lead engineer on a project to innovate a new type of sports equipment. “I was really excited because the project involved innovating a kickstand football kicking tee.” He was tasked with developing a prototype by machining the legs of the tee structure and the rod to support the football atop it.

The MAMC client accepted Antonio’s input and approved his unique design so the project moved to the production phase. Antonio collaborated with Morgan Smith, MAMC design engineer, to develop and finalize a computer program to control the 5-axis CNC machining center used to precisely cut the tee components from aluminum.

“That’s the beauty of the internship experience at MAMC,” said Deacon Stone, director of innovation. “College students work side-by-side with MAMC’s knowledgeable staff of engineers and technicians to solve real-world challenges. Interns are not bystanders. They’re involved in each step of the manufacturing process, from concept and design to prototyping and production. They learn by actually doing.”

Luke said his skills have improved immensely during his internship. “Every day that I got to work on CAD projects there was a new technique to drawing or a new machine that I get to train on to run myself.” Upon graduation, he hopes to pursue a career in automotive engineering.

Bella Schrader of Huntington is completing her third internship at MAMC through the Entrepreneur Immersion Fellowship collaboration between MAMC and Marshall’s Lewis College of Business/Brad D. Smith Schools of Business. This has enabled her to see the evolution and development of the projects on which she has worked over the years at MAMC.

Bella graduated last month with a double major in entrepreneurship and sustainability management/technology, with minors in engineering sciences, economics and marketing. She aspires to create her own startup business that focuses on sustainability and combatting environmental issues.

Bella was introduced to MAMC through a tour before her internships. “I always had found 3D printing and design fascinating,” she said. “When I went on a tour of MAMC for the very first time, I absolutely loved the variety and scope of the professional-grade 3D printers available in the Maker Vault,” MAMC’s community makerspace.

Antonio had a similar experience. “I wanted to be an intern here as I enjoy working in CAD and have some machining background,” he explained “With a previous class at Marshall, we took a tour of MAMC and I wanted to start my journey here.”

Noel Edmunds of Huntington, an art major with a minor in marketing, also graduated this spring. She is completing an internship at MAMC as a marketing and public relations intern, helping promote MAMC services and sharing its success stories.

Her duties include writing articles, photography and videography, website design and optimization, and graphic design. She encouraged other students to consider internships that may not directly relate to their majors because it gives individuals the opportunity to apply their skills in new ways.

“Even if it is not in your particular field of study, extend your focus and learn something new to enhance the primary skills you have developed while focusing on your major,” Noel advised. She plans to pursue a graduate degree in architecture this fall at the University of Kentucky.

Marshall students such as Antonia, Bella, Luke and Noel are not the only ones to benefit from internships. Companies and organizations across the region such as MAMC also benefit because they gain access to a new pool of talent with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) knowledge and experience who have their own ideas and offer fresh perspectives. Some MAMC interns have gone on to work after graduation for the clients they served during their internships.

“It is important to give rising generations the traction they need to hone the skills it takes to close the gap between the worlds of today and tomorrow,” Stone said. “This is why our internship programs are so critical. We connect and facilitate relationships between our interns and clients to produce outputs, get jobs done, and keep the engines of our creativity, problem-solving and innovation humming!”

April 30, 2024

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