Engineering's Learning Factory to host virtual summer internship program


By Tessa M. Woodring

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Internships for many students within the Penn State College of Engineering have been affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, the Bernard G. Gordon Learning Factory has created a remote internship program that will help these students get the experience they need to further succeed at the University and beyond.

The Learning Factory will host a 10-week internship program this summer that will pair engineering students with sponsors to work remotely on projects. Students will also complete supplemental training in areas such as financial literacy, ethics, professional communications, leadership and report writing.

“Internships are a vital part of undergraduate education,” said Matt Parkinson, director of the Learning Factory and professor of engineering design and mechanical engineering. “Obviously an on-site internship is ideal. The multi-sensory learning that occurs in a physical environment is fundamental to internships — and to the Learning Factory — and it can’t be replicated through our remote internships. But we can provide many of the critical elements: mentorship, accountability and a chance to work on really cool open-ended problems. Through the Learning Factory internship program, we hope to provide that experience to as many students as possible.”

This internship program will take place from early June through early August. Participating students are expected to spend approximately 20 hours a week working on the program’s projects. Students who complete the program requirements will receive a $2,000 scholarship and a micro-credential digital badge that will be awarded at the start of the fall 2020 semester.

Peter Butler, associate dean for education and graduate professional programs in the College of Engineering, spearheaded the task committee that helped to create this internship program.

The College of Engineering’s Office for Digital Learning, Engineering Career Resources and Employer Relations and the Center for Engineering Outreach and Inclusion also played major roles in helping to get this initiative off the ground.

“The Learning Factory has a long history of working with corporate sponsors and matching students to projects,” Butler said. “This effort also drew from the expertise of our faculty and staff in the Office for Digital Learning, Career Resources and Employer Relations and the Center for Engineering Outreach and Inclusion. The program is intended to replicate some of the best parts of the internship experience.”

According to Butler, this virtual internship program will give students the opportunity to develop vital professional skills and continue “engineering” throughout the summer.

“Students will engage in projects that use their engineering skills,” said Butler. “It will also provide professional development modules to help students think through topics such as ethics, safety, communications, project management and working in inclusive teams.”

More information on this program can be found here. The application process for student participants has closed, but companies that want to participate can submit projects here until June 3.


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Megan Lakatos