Students benefit from local workplace experience

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By Ryan-Rose Mendoza
Staff Writer

Many times students graduate and begin working in their perspective fields only to find the physical requirements of their jobs may differ from what they learned in the classroom during their years of studies.

Luckily for two Northeast students, this will never be an issue. Last summer, sophomores Laney Jordan and Corey Fyfe were given internship opportunities with the help of Northeast Engineering Professor Kenneth Irizarry.

Jordan, of Ore City, joined Priefert Manufacturing in Mount Pleasant while Fyfe, of Hughes Springs, was given an internship with Scot Industries in Lone Star. The two students received the internships as a means of giving them hands-on experience that would prepare them for their future careers.

“I guess I’ve always wanted to be an engineer,” Fyfe who is majoring in mechanical engineering, said. “When I was little I used to take toys apart and put them back together a different way just to see if they would still work. I like to find things that shouldn’t work and make them work.”

Jordan’s journey into industrial engineering did not begin at such a young age. “I just knew that I wanted to work on different tasks on a regular basis, and in the end that is why I chose engineering,” she said.

Jordan and Fyfe began their internships in the summer of 2016, expecting that their work with the companies would end when the next school year started.

But, their positive attitudes and ambition to work earned them each offers to continue their internships into the fall semester.

“From the beginning I asked my boss if I didn’t finish my project if I could stay on a little longer so I could finish it,” Jordan said. “I can’t just leave a job unfinished.” Jordan, who was trained by Priefert employee Jonathan Ramirez, had the opportunity to work with a high accuracy measuring devise called a Faro Arm.

“I’m especially lucky to get to work for a company that allows me to work around my school schedule” Jordan says, “I’m so blessed.”

Fyfe had similar ambitions to continue his internship beyond the planned timetable. “They told me to tell them my schedule once school got started and I could work around it,” he said. The engineering major manages to juggle 16 credit hours of college classes, work as a physics tutor in the NTCC math/science lab, and still put in 14 hours a week with Scott Industries.

Irizarry said the two students are doing a good job representing the Northeast engineering program out in the workplace. “It gives me great satisfaction to see talented students become successful engineers,” he said.

“Laney and Corey are two of our most studious and creative engineering students. They love engineering and love their internships.  The industries where they are employed have been very impressed with their work.”

Irizarry went on to say that Northeast is grateful to both Priefert Manufacturing and Scot Industries for giving the students “the opportunities to practice their engineering skills in the real world.”

Clint Collier, Priefert engineering manager, said the program serves as a benefit for both the students and the companies that offer the internships.

“Our goal from the whole program, by working with the college and getting interns, is to actually find someone we can hire when they are done with school,” Collier said. “This lets Laney get familiar with us, and it lets us try her out, plus she gets to see if she likes Priefert as well.”

Collier said Priefert is also offering scholarships to students through the internship program. He said the goal is to find someone local who wants to stay local. He added that one of the biggest struggles they have is finding engineers that want to stay in Mount Pleasant because it’s a smaller town.

“The first couple of years of engineering are crucial,” Collier said. “You spend most of your time training an engineer and about the time you get someone trained to do what you want them to do, they want to go back to the big city. That’s the key thing, finding someone who is compatible with us and wants to be here.”

Both students agree that their internship has helped them grow both as engineers and as people. “Sometimes I come home all sweaty and dusty, but I would not change it for anything,” Jordan said.

Collier, a former Northeast student who received his engineering degree from LeTourneau University, said the internship program offers students practical experience that goes beyond the classroom.