State awards YSU $573,300 to fund workplace internships

Youngstown State University has been awarded $573,300 from the Ohio Board of Regents to help create a program designed to increase the number and enhance the quality of technology and business professionals in Northeast Ohio.

The funding is contingent upon approval by the State of Ohio Controlling Board in January.

In all, the Board of Regents awarded $11 million in Ohio Means Internships and Co-ops grants to 22 universities and colleges across the state as part of Gov. John Kasich’s workforce development strategies to align Ohio’s higher education curriculum with skills that are in demand by Ohio businesses. The universities and colleges will partner with nearly 1,500 employers to provide paid and credited internships and co-ops to their students.

The grant to YSU, along with matching funds from business partners and additional funding from YSU, will establish the Program for Internships and Co-Ops in Advanced Manufacturing and Related Industries, or PICAM.

PICAM will fund 45 full-time and 62 half-time internships for students in the YSU College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and the YSU Williamson College of Business Administration, as well as students at Eastern Gateway Community College.

Student interns will work in advanced manufacturing and related industries throughout the region. Participating employers include AST2, Bruce & Merrilees, Butech Bliss, Dawn Inc., Diebold, First Energy, Gasser, IES Systems Inc., M7 Technologies, Mercury Plastics Inc., MRL—Materials Research Laboratories Inc., Mahoning Valley Manufacturing Coalition, National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education, Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber, the John Zidian Co., Treemen Industries and the Youngstown Business Incubator.

“The experience that students gain through internships and co-ops enhances their long-term career opportunities, and it makes them better students,” said Martin Abraham, YSU STEM dean. “It promotes degree completion, because they are able to get a better sense of their long-term career objectives, and they earn money that they can put towards the cost of their education.”

Abraham said the companies participating in internships and co-ops benefit by including young, innovative minds in their operations, and they have the opportunity to evaluate potential future permanent hires in a no-risk situation.

“Upon completion, the student already has the experience the company needs to put the new graduate directly to work, without any loss of productivity associated with on-the-job training,” he said.

“Enhancing the preparation of our STEM and business students through professional-level, career-related work experience increases the student’s competitive position in the job market and provides companies with entry-level professionals who in the short term can make an immediate contribution and in the long-term strengthen the competitive position of the company,” said Betty Jo Licata, dean of the YSU Williamson College of Business Administration.

“By expanding the internship and cooperative education experiences available to our students and companies we hope to enable companies to increase the professional job opportunities available to new graduates and keep our most important resource, our graduates’ and their intellectual capital, in the state of Ohio.”

In addition to the internships, the new program calls for YSU’s STEM and Business colleges to jointly design and implement new courses in professional practice preparation and to host new, semiannual co-op and internship recruiting events on campus. The program also calls for restructuring curricula in accounting, business, finance, industrial systems engineering, management, marketing, mechanical engineering and other disciplines to provide for more professional practice opportunities.

© 2012 The Metro Monthly. All rights reserved.

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