Developing the Next Generation of Engineers: How Working with Local Universities Can Help Your Company Grow

Internship programs offered by local universities and colleges can be beneficial to companies, both large and small; and we’ve learned this firsthand at Aleratec through our long-standing relationship with our local university, California State University Northridge College of Engineering and Computer Science. Aleratec’s involvement began in 2006 when I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. S.K. Ramesh at a local business conference facilitated by our city council member. Dr. Ramesh had an enthusiasm that was infectious, and we set up a follow-up meeting that ultimately led to our involvement in a number of programs and initiatives to help develop the next generation of engineering talent.

Alongside such powerhouses such as Amgen, Eaton Aerospace Corporation and Northrop Grumman, we have participated in the university’s Honors Cooperative Internship Program, which offers students real-life work experience while they’re still enrolled in college. More than 75% of the Honors Co-Op interns accept permanent positions with the sponsoring companies, and while the interns often have more talent than experience, the opportunity to guide them through the learning process, as well as understanding company culture, products, policies and procedures, has been rewarding to say the least.

Our company is often the launching pad to new careers and, after several years with us, the students move on to make significant contributions to organizations such as Medtronic and the U.S. Navy. Of course, we hate to see them go, but we take great pride in the role we played in their development. In fact, we hold farewell parties to celebrate their career growth and send them off to the next exciting chapter in their work lives with our very best wishes.

Over the years, we have continued to strengthen our relationship with the College of Engineering and Computer Science at California State University Northridge through a variety of activities including participation in the Industry Advisory Board alongside organizations such as The Aerospace Corporation, Boston Scientific Neuromodulation Corporation, Canoga Perkins, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Industry leaders advise educators on the relevancy and completeness of the engineering and computer science programs at CSUN, and in return, the local industrial community has access to individual students and faculty in order to meet future staffing requirements. It’s a win-win scenario.

In retrospect, this richly rewarding experience has been life changing to both interns and our staff, and we take great pride in knowing that our company has a positive impact on the next generation of engineering talent. I highly recommend organizations of all sizes get involved by contacting their local institutions of higher learning to discover the hidden talents of students who only need that first chance to thrive.

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