New High School Internship Program Launches at Device Solutions
Those unfamiliar with Device Solutions and its ingenious, quirky and downright playful approach to engineering might be puzzled by the excitement in Brendan Price’s voice when he describes his first week at the company. “It was pretty amazing. I got to help test the capabilities of a new wireless device,” he says. But step through the doors of the company’s unassuming exterior into its workspace, and you begin to get an inkling of what Brendan and his fellow intern, Johnathan Glaser, find so intriguing. Device Solutions’ studios resemble nothing so much as Santa’s workshop on steroids. They’re filled with tools of the trade (computers, circuit boards, wires, plugs and a wide array of half assembled gadgets) and possibilities. “What I like about Device Solutions,” says Johnathan, “is that you get to see how engineering really works from the inside out.”
Brendan and Johnathan are part of a newly launched internship program for high school students being overseen by Rod Williams, the firm’s Director of Engineering. “Traditionally, our interns have been highly skilled university students about to enter the workforce, ” says Williams. “We expect them to make specific contributions to our workflow. But when we were approached by two high schools about accepting interns, we realized we would need a different set of expectations. It’s another challenge entirely.” Accepting high school interns involves complying with requirements for hiring minors, but more importantly has meant rethinking and reimagining how to help students get the most out of their time at Device Solutions. “The number and variety of projects we work on is incredible,” says Williams. “Our engineers need not only a thorough understanding of the design, development and testing processes, but to be creative, collaborative problem solvers as well.” It’s that unique combination that Williams wants the interns to experience through mentoring and practical, hands-on work at the company.
Although they’ve only been on the job two weeks, both Brendan and Johnathan are pleased with what they’ve learned so far. “I’m a big believer in learning by doing,” says Johnathan, who is interested in digital art as well as engineering. ” So far I’ve worked on logos and helped test six different boards. Everyone here is very collaborative and dedicated to getting things done right. It’s great.” Brendan, who would like to go into mechanical or aerospace engineering, agrees. “I was clueless about wireless and Bluetooth when I first got here, but thanks to the reading materials they gave me, and working with one of the engineers, I’ve learned a lot.” Williams too is pleased by how the program is unfolding. “They’re both smart kids and have fine work ethics. We’ve been throwing out tasks just to see how they’d handle them, and so far they’ve been proactive and flexible. They’re also not afraid to ask questions and let us know their opinions. I’m impressed.”
To complete their internships, Brendan and Johnathan are required to come to Device Solutions twice a week after school, putting in a total of five hours per week for a full semester. Since this is a first for both Device Solutions and the interns, no one is sure what the future holds, but both Brendan and Johnathan say they’d like to continue as long as Device Solutions will have them. As for Williams, he is doing what all good engineers do, working with the interns and his team to design, build and test the best program possible. “It’s what Device Solutions does,” Williams says. “We invest in the future by investing in our people and the community.”
– Jena Ball