Internships for Engineering Students
Demand for experienced and entry-level professionals with skills in integrating operational technology with information technology, and securing both, is significant, and growing exponentially. Because engineering technology jobs require a high degree of skill and education, and because the demand is high, the expected salary rates are also elevated. At HCU, students prepare for employment in these industries by completing a BS degree in Cyber Engineering, Computer Science or Electrical Engineering.
Many companies seek prior experience in new employees, through course-driven projects and through experiential learning, but also through internships. All engineering students are required to have at least one internship experience before graduation. The information below helps define internship with company sponsors, the types of internships that may be available, and the guidelines and expectations for academic credit.
WHY SHOULD STUDENTS & SPONSORING COMPANIES PARTICIPATE?
- HCU supports an experiential education program for undergraduate engineering students, featuring strong interaction with business and government sectors, as an opportunity to integrate the theoretical principles studied in the classroom with the practical knowledge gained from on-the-job performance. These off-campus experiences are generally referred to as internships. At HCU, all engineering students are required to have at least one internship experience prior to graduation.
- Engineering and cyber internship opportunities are available for students in Computer Science, Cyber Engineering, and Electrical Engineering.
- Internships typically provide an hourly wage during the period of service, and students are considered as temporary, part-time employees. Students may also request academic credit for the internships, for which learning outcomes will be established and achievement of the outcomes will be evaluated by faculty members. The credit will be recorded on the student’s transcript, and may fulfill a requirement for an elective course in the student’s degree plan.
- The internship experience should involve a project or specific job responsibilities that have clearly definable educational objectives for the student with applications for the company/organization as well.
- The sponsoring firm/organization will designate a person to be responsible for the internship experience. The sponsoring firm/organization will be a part of a growing number of local, area and national companies and organizations participating in this internship program. The sponsoring firm/organization can enhance the company/organization through participation in this exciting program, as well as make a difference in the career of a student.
Expected Outcomes for Students Who Complete an Internship
- Knowledge of the industrial environment
- Security Operations and Management
- Digital Forensics
- Network Security
- ICS, IoT Security
- Quality Control, Quality Assurance, Regulatory Affairs
- Project Management
- Experience in investigating, analyzing and reporting an information or network systems security problem, and solution
- Enhancement of professional communication skills and project management/completion
- Understanding of professional ethics and practice
- Improved academic performance, critical thinking, creative problem-solving and career satisfaction
QUALIFICATIONS FOR STUDENT INTERNS
- Completion of the following engineering and science courses (grade of C or better)
o MATH 1452 (Calculus II)
o SAFE Lab Engineering Projects (ENSC 1411/1412)
o SAFE Lab Cyber Projects (COSC 1351/1352)
• Good academic standing
EXPECTATIONS FOR INTERNSHIP SPONSORS
• Provide appropriate intern position for 10-13 consecutive weeks at 20-40 hours per week
• Provide a company mentor (engineer, computer scientist, IT manager) to guide and evaluate the student
• Prepare a mutually developed statement of company and educational goals
• Provide hourly wage for support of student
Types of Internships (adapted from About.com)
Internships provide real-world experience to those looking to explore or gain the relevant knowledge and skills required to enter into a particular career field. Internships are relatively short-term in nature with the primary focus of getting on-the-job training and applying what has been learned in the classroom.
Paid internships exist primarily in the private sector or in large organizations that have the money to pay students to learn while they work. Many organizations recognize the value of internship programs and the enormous benefit they play in the recruitment process. As these organizations work to train interns, they evaluate their potential as future full-time employees. For this reason, companies that can afford to pay their interns will do so, especially in the high-demand engineering and computing fields. The pay may be in the form of an hourly wage or salary; some organizations offer a stipend paid in installments.
Internships for Credit
Internships for credit require that the experience is strongly related to an academic discipline to be deemed “credit-worthy.” The main question is determining the value of the internship experience to a higher education degree. Internships that are primarily clerical or mechanical do not qualify for academic credit. Students who receive academic credit for an internship need to have an academic sponsor (faculty member) to oversee and specify criteria for the internship. To meet the academic component of the internship, students may be required to complete a journal, essay, or presentation during, or immediately after, the internship to illustrate the knowledge and skills they learned over the course of the semester.
Summer internships are usually eight to 12 weeks long, and can be full or part-time. More students do internships during the summer than during any other time of the year. There’s ample time to get into a regular work routine and gain valuable knowledge and skills. Many students find the summer a convenient time to undertake an internship, and to earn funds to cover expenses during the academic year.
The main difference between an internship and a co-op experience is the length of time. While internships generally last anywhere from a few weeks to several months, co-ops normally last one or more years. Usually, students will attend classes and work on their co-op simultaneously, or they may do their co-op during winter and/or summer breaks. Cooperative education provides students with an opportunity to utilize their education and apply it to the workplace in a way that may be well-integrated with the academic experience. The knowledge and skills that students acquire in the classroom are then taken to the workforce.
Externships are very similar to internships, but only of a much shorter duration. Another common name for externship is “job shadowing.” Although these opportunities may only consist of one day to several weeks, they tend to offer participants a bird’s-eye view of what it’s actually like working in a particular career field, as well as providing some professional contacts for future networking. Due to the short duration of an externship, the time spent at a sponsoring organization can take many forms. Students may spend the day observing, asking questions and attending meetings. Sometimes students get an opportunity to participate in a project, depending on the type of organization where they are doing their externship. Many times they will get a tour of the organization and get a chance to meet with people working in other offices or departments. Doing one or more externships during a semester break is a great way to learn more about careers and meet professionals currently working in the field.
A small number of companies offer the opportunity for an extended internship, working near the main campus, under the direct supervision of a manager. Students are able to learn new skills while contributing substantive (and billable) work products for the company. These experiences provide the opportunity to attend class during the day, and schedule their work hours flexibly during the week, working from 10 to 40 hours per week, depending on the student. The mentored apprenticeship may require an extended time commitment, such as a full academic year, or even two academic years prior to graduation. These experiences often lead to employment offers upon graduation to work for the company that sponsored the apprenticeship, or one of the client companies for which the work was completed.
Some larger companies may offer students a multi-year internship that includes a commitment to rotate through multiple business units of the company, obtaining a broader exposure to the lines of service, and the locations, in which employees could work. This experience provides greater breadth and knowledge to the students, but may require a longer-term commitment to the company.
INTERNSHIP GUIDELINES FOR ACADEMIC CREDIT
HCU supports an experiential education program for undergraduate students featuring strong interaction with business and government sectors as an opportunity to integrate the theoretical principles studied in the classroom with the practical knowledge gained from on-the-job performance. In implementing this objective, each engineering discipline in the College has an internship course that students may apply as credit toward their academic degrees. The internship must be relevant to the student’s academic program, add to the student’s knowledge, skills, or experience, and offer an educational opportunity not found in traditional coursework.
- To register for an internship course, a student should contact the dean prior to early advising to secure permission for enrolling in an internship course and to discuss course requirements.
- Generally, an internship will translate into three semester hours of credit. To earn three hours of internship credit, the student must serve with the sponsoring firm/organization for a minimum of 200 hours during the semester.
- The internship experience should involve a project or specific job responsibilities that have clearly definable educational objectives. These objectives and responsibilities must be documented and presented to the dean or designated instructor prior to registering for the internship.
- The College of Science and Engineering maintains a list of firms/organizations desiring to sponsor student interns. Compensation, if any, should be negotiated between the student and the firm/organization. Students are not allowed to pursue an internship under the direction of a relative or with a firm owned by a close relative.
- A written report of the internship experience must be submitted at the end of the semester. In addition, the firm/organization supervisor will be required to complete an evaluation form assessing the student’s performance. These documents will be used to assign credit for the course (pass/fail).