Purdue Northwest, Munster High School Partner To Provide Engineering Internships
Experiencing engineering at a college campus while still in high school is a unique opportunity, and Purdue University Northwest is proud to collaborate with Munster High School to bring an innovative internship program to its students at the PNW Hammond Campus.
The Engineering Internship Program for high school students began in fall 2019 through PNW’s department of Mechanical and Civil Engineering (MCE) and the Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation (CIVS), partnering with Munster High School through Brad Docter, career and technical education coordinator. The program’s first two students designed a machine with moving parts to serve as an auxiliary to a clean energy system.
During fall semester 2020, Munster High School senior Rayhan Zaman is working on an internship project to design a mechanical iris mechanism, inspired by the human eye. The iris helps control light entry into a solar reactor, making it possible to maintain constant temperatures to provide steady fuel efficiency.
“I know most high schools do not give the opportunity to do these types of internships, so I am grateful for the opportunity to be here,” said Zaman. “I have been really interested in engineering since I was little, and the internship is a great way for me to apply many of the skills I learned in school to a real-world task.”
PNW’s MCE Department Chair and Professor Nesrin Ozalp, an international expert in renewable energy systems, adds, “It is exciting to see a new generation’s interest towards creating engineering solutions for our planet’s limited energy sources and growing environmental issues.”
PNW’s Mechanical and Civil Engineering Lab Supervisors Connor Feeney and Marcel Mejulu serve as mentors and help the interns learn engineering design principles via Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and SolidWorks software so they can create their own machines and/or machine parts from scratch. Feeney and Mejulu work closely with the interns to ensure their design evolution is ready for product manufacturing, and assist with 3D printing of the final design. The internship culminates in generating simulations of the intern’s design, using PNW CIVS cutting-edge technologies, with guidance from CIVS Research Engineer Kyle Toth.
“This partnership has been a great opportunity for our engineering students,” Docter said. “These high school students are applying what they learn to actual college level and real-world activities. At first, I thought this would be too difficult for the students, but they are stepping up and not only meeting the challenge but succeeding beyond my expectations. This partnership has increased our students’ interest in engineering and also in Purdue Northwest. The last four students who have gone through the internship have enrolled in a PNW Engineering program.”