Engineering students looking for ways to apply the skills they've learned in class can find internship opportunities hosted by companies that are eager for new talent from the College of Engineering.
"I found out about the technician trainee program by attending a Tesla information night in September on the [University of Nevada, Reno] campus," said Gretchen Hoffman, a mechanical engineering major and a senior at the University who works in the Model 3 Drive Unit- Inverter Department at Tesla. "The program was intended to be fully hands-on in order to give students real work experience in a manufacturing setting. I am extremely passionate about manufacturing and knew this is the field I wanted to work in, so I applied."
Hoffman said she was also looking for a way to be able to work hands-on alongside her interests in robotics and industrial automation, and as a technician trainee, she fixes and troubleshoots equipment to ensure that nothing goes down on the line for any extended length of time. She says the most important skills needed for this role include communication, mechanical aptitude, technical problem solving and the ability to work under pressure.
"Engineering has allowed me to organize my thoughts and troubleshoot from many different buckets of knowledge," she said. "I use my [mechanical] engineering background all day long in my job."
"Tesla started the technician trainee program to increase opportunities for full-time [University of Nevada, Reno] students to get hands-on work experience in automated manufacturing at Gigafactory 1," said Chris Reilly, workforce development and education lead at Tesla.
Reilly said that students work two days per week around their class schedule as part of the production engineering team, and there are currently eight students from the College of Engineering participating in the program.
"We're targeting to have eight to ten students at any given time as part of this initiative. This is a new program that's in addition to our university intern experience at Tesla where we have more than fifty undergrad students from around the world across many disciplines at Gigafactory 1," Reilly said.
The technician trainees will work under the guidance of maintenance supervisors to improve equipment reliability and minimize or eliminate downtime of Tesla's Model 3 and Tesla Energy manufacturing lines.
Reilly said that trainees will work with "several teams including engineering, quality and suppliers across a variety of areas of the facility," and "day-to-day, individuals may diagnose equipment failures, find root causes and communicate actions taken by the rest of the team."
Educational internships pay off for Panasonic during summer program
Another major company actively seeking students in chemical, electrical, mechanical and materials science and engineering is Panasonic.
Over the summer, 7 interns were accepted out of 120 applicants to participate in an educational internship with Panasonic at the Gigafactory east of Reno. The seven interns, all from the University of Nevada, Reno, are engineering majors specializing in materials, chemical and mechanical engineering.
"The students had different roles, some were battery engineers, production engineers and quality engineers," said Joe Bozsik, director of career services at the College of Engineering.
"Panasonic was pleased with how everything unfolded, from the pool of candidates to the quality of interns, which is evident with their extended offers," said Bozsik. The company extended an offer of fulltime employment to one of the mechanical engineering majors who graduated in December. All but one intern accepted the offer to continue, and the one who did not choose to extend had a strenuous academic load.
While an internship is not a requirement for the College of Engineering, Bozsik says that it is important or students to understand the value of experience before graduation and heading out into the workforce.
"The interns got to jump into work at Panasonic," recruiter Brent Wyatt said. "We used a mentorship model, which allowed for familiarization with the engineering protocol."
"By the end, they weren't just like interns," said Wyatt. "They were basically like engineers with all of the experience that they had."
Wyatt says that while the program is in its start-up phase, the company is looking for junior and senior engineering students who have already completed some of the more technical engineering courses offered at the University. Students with hands on experience, such as personal projects or undergraduate research, are also encouraged to apply.
The applications for the Summer 2019 internship program will open in early spring, around later in February or March, on their website, panasonicnv.com.
NV Energy, NDOT, CalTrans and more will be just some of the 60 companies recruiting students and expected graduates at the engineering career fair that will be held on Thursday, February 21 at the Grand Ballroom at the Joe Crowley Student Union. Corporate partners of the College of Engineering that will be there include Bombora, Click Bond and the Sierra Nevada Corporation.