The University of West Florida Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering launched a new internship program to prepare students to enter professional work in all STEM fields.
The need was first identified when science and engineering students reported turning down professional preparation opportunities in lieu of continuing paid positions not related to their professional goals. To address this issue, Dr. Michael Huggins, dean of the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering, launched the program to provide incentives to UWF partners to transform unpaid internships into paid positions or create new paid internship positions for students.
“While many students choose to pursue further academic preparation via graduate and professional schools, the vast majority of our students will enter the workforce directly,” said Dr. Matthew Schwartz, the college’s associate dean. “These direct-to-workforce students are particularly well-served when they engage in a co-op or internship that places them into the workplace under the guidance of a professional mentor from the host organization.”
The new internship program will fundamentally change the nature of academic and professional preparation of the next generation of STEM students at UWF. While completing their internships, students will be provided with a stipend of $12 per hour for 120 hours of work over the span of a 16-week academic term. The Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering is budgeting more than $25,000 for the program with the goal of supporting paid internships for 25 students; the rest of the funding will come from the partner organizations offering the positions to students.
Internships require students to stretch themselves and apply concepts learned in classrooms or laboratories to the real world. Such experiences become transformative when they change a student’s professional trajectory through meaningful professional development.
The roster of previous internship partners includes, but is not limited to:
Ascend Performance Materials
City of Gulf Breeze
Eglin Air Force Base
Escambia County (Florida) Marine Resources Division
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission
Gulf Winds Federal Credit Union
Navy Federal Credit Union
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
West Florida Regional Planning Council
“The Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering has made the strategic decision to invest financial resources in the future of our regional and national STEM workforce by creating this internship program,” Schwartz said. “As an institution of higher learning, we have a responsibility to our students and our citizens to educate and prepare students for professional success, both inside and outside academia.”
The HMCSE Internship Program is now establishing its first partnerships with the Gulf Islands National Seashore and Webb Electric, expected to begin before the end of 2017. Meetings are planned with Avalex Industries, OnPoint Defense Technologies, Northrop Gumman and a number of other regional partners, Schwartz said.
To learn more about the new HMCSE Internship Program, visit the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering website.