TCSG-GTMI Internship Program: Building the Manufacturing Workforce of the Future
The Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute (GTMI) was awarded $283,000 by the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Workforce Division in April 2016 to expand a pilot technical college student internship program from two students in the past two years to 20 students over the next three years. In addition to being paid for their work, as they were in the pilot program, students will also receive elective credits toward their degree at their technical college. The expanded internship program also provides the opportunity for participation from students at several technical colleges within a short drive of Georgia Tech. Internships will last six months and students will be engaged in project work similar to what was performed by students in the pilot program. The key goals remain the same: we want students to develop advanced technical skills in manual and CNC machining, CAD, CAM, additive manufacturing and other manufacturing technologies, as well as 21st century skills, that are critical to ensuring that Georgia builds and retains the advanced manufacturing workforce of the future.
Background and History
In 2012, the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute (GTMI) and the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) formed a partnership to improve Georgia’s advanced manufacturing skills gap. A Manufacturing Competitiveness Committee was formed and is composed of representatives from GTMI and manufacturing faculty from eight of the TCSG colleges.
The committee’s task was to address gaps in 21st Century skills, as well as technical skills in the areas of CNC machining, welding, mechatronics, additive manufacturing, and other technical disciplines. These are the skills consistently reported by Georgia manufacturers as critical to their ability to be competitive, but often lacking in the pool of potential workers for skilled production and technician jobs.
Through the work of the committee West Georgia Technical College (WGTC) and GTMI developed a pilot program for WGTC students to intern at GTMI in advanced manufacturing research and technology transfer projects as described below.
WGTC-GTMI Internship Pilot Program
The pilot internship program was funded with $20,000 from the Georgia Center of Innovation for Manufacturing in 2013. The primary goal of the paid internship has been to enhance the education of WGTC students by immersing them in complex, open-ended manufacturing research and technology transfer projects at GTMI. These projects require students to apply creativity, advanced problem-solving, critical thinking, and communication skills reach project goals.
Two interns have participated in the program and were heavily engaged in projects where they performed design work, manual and CNC machining, assembly, and other manufacturing operations to create mission-critical prototypes for internal and external customers. In the words of the students:
“This has been an incredible opportunity that I can’t imagine getting anywhere else. In just three months, I’ve been able to work with a variety of machines and equipment to create prototypes for [a startup company]. The coolest part was that I was given a lot of freedom on how I would make the parts, but my GTMI and WGTC mentors were always willing to help if I had a question. Also, since I wasn’t in an actual production environment, I could make mistakes - which I did - and then figure out how to fix them on my own.”
“It’s tough to really get an understanding of how to use a lathe during a semester-long class. By being here [at GTMI] 6-8 hours a day over the semester, and actually using the lathe to produce parts that companies need, I feel much more confident in my ability to use the machine.”
“This experience has really helped me learn about what an engineer or technician could do on a daily basis in a manufacturing environment. I’ve always had an interest in mechatronics and now I see how it is used in manufacturing every day.”
For more information about the program, or if you are a technical college student interested in participating in the program, please contact the Program Director, Tina Guldberg, at email@example.com, or (404) 385-4950.