Internships benefit TU, state economy

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering posted a 100 percent placement rate in May with all 18 of its graduates beginning their careers or committing to graduate school. Faculty attributes the program’s success to several factors including key internships that lay the groundwork for professional opportunities.

electrical engineering
Students apply knowledge they learned in internships to their TU research projects.

From local companies to federal agencies, electrical engineering students are encouraged to spread their wings in internships that can span the course of a few summer months or an entire year. Frequent host companies include Qual-Tron, Inc., John Zink Hamworthy Combustion and MIRATECH Emission Solutions of Tulsa as well as Tactical Electronics of Broken Arrow. Once students earn their degrees, their valuable internship experiences become a clear advantage in the job market.

“These students receive higher salaries, more job offers and are often hired by the companies where they interned,” said Surendra Singh, professor of electrical and computer engineering.

The department also has a long-standing agreement with the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST). TU students earn up to $25,000 a year while attending school and interning at an Oklahoma engineering firm. All engineering majors are invited to apply, and the stipends are jointly funded by OCAST and participating companies.

“Interns work on ongoing projects or help with the design of new products,” Singh said. “When they graduate, they’re already trained in a skill set and can help the company recruit additional TU students.”

Douglas Jussaume, applied assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, said TU’s partnership with OCAST also supports Oklahoma’s economy.

“The arrangement promotes additional TU internships and keeps students working within the state,” he said. “Companies welcome eager students who are motivated to develop innovative new products.”

Don Lambert (BS ’94), a business development engineer for MIRATECH in Canada, oversaw the company’s product development department for four years. Through the OCAST Research & Development Internship Program, TU interns worked alongside Lambert and his peers to develop new exhaust emission control products for reciprocating engines.

Three of the four interns he managed now work full-time at MIRATECH. As a TU student, Lambert also participated in internships and wanted to give back as a mentor.

“The interns got to see not only the engineering side of what we do, but also the many facets of how a business operates,” he said.

Students can apply for OCAST internships as early as their sophomore year and may continue working for the duration of their college careers. Recent graduate Timothy McDonald (BS ’15) participated in the OCAST program for more than a year at Enviro Systems, an environmental control equipment company in Seminole, Oklahoma. McDonald performed tests and prepared reports to determine if the heating and cooling equipment Enviro markets for aircraft cabin pressurization met FAA regulations.

“I got to experience the whole design process,” he said. “I saw the prototype and watched as it was either redesigned or shipped off to an aircraft.”

McDonald received multiple job offers before he graduated but chose to begin his professional career at Enviro based on his positive intern experience.

“I had a really great time building rapport with the engineers I worked with at Enviro. They made us interns feel welcome, and they taught me to foster good working relationships,” he said.

McDonald began his full-time position at Enviro in June 2015.

“My OCAST internship is paying back the state,” he said. “I’m choosing to stay in Oklahoma and spend my money here.”

For more information on hosting a TU intern, participating in the OCAST program or finding an internship, please contact the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at 918-631-3270.