Talent Stimulates Growth

“He’s a rock star. He has an open position here.”

That’s what RND Automation Director of Operations and Engineering, Aaron Laine says about the local company’s recent summer intern and University of Florida engineering student, Lucas Magno.

Engineering internships are a 12-week job interview for employers; and, for students both an interview and a chance to gain relevant engineering experience. Companies have an opportunity to engage, mentor, and guide these young professionals and determine the potential for long-term employment. Students participate in real engineering projects, strengthen their soft skills, and gain a better understanding of how a company works. National studies indicate more than half of internships result in full-time employment stimulating local economic growth (https://comparecamp.com/internship-statistics/).

Since the inception of the UF Innovation Station (UFIS) internship program in 2017, over 190 UF engineering students have participated in an engineering internship with over 60 companies. This year, 56 UF engineering students worked at 28 local companies, 12 of which were full-time hires resulting from prior internships. The talent pool at UF and the expansion of the internship program locally are prompting companies to consider first- and second-year students in addition to the sought-after college juniors and seniors.

“We didn’t know how much the internship program could impact us until Lucas,” said Laine.

Lakewood Ranch High School graduate and first-year UF engineering student, Lucas Magno juggled part-time work at RND Automation with a Physics 2 class required for his major. He benefitted from RND’s unique approach to internships that allowed him to shadow positions across the company’s major departments. Computer Science majors like Lucas can participate in important projects such as the medical assembly machine he worked on debugging, presented to the management team on cost savings, ran robot simulations and even inherited a retired robot from his supervisors.

Lucas also received a stipend award from The Gulf Coast Community Foundation along with his internship, “Thanks to that I have been able to save-up money for expenses not covered by Bright Futures once I move to The University of Florida in mid-August, such as books, engineering hardware, tools, and other miscellaneous items that will help me throughout this and future semesters.”

Building partnerships with the local companies and understanding specific needs are key to the program’s success. As evidenced in the RND experience with Lucas, making a match between the right student and company for both skillset and culture fosters a long-term relationship between company and student. Providing valuable internship experiences attracts the best and brightest for repeat internships and acceptance of full-time offers.

For more information regarding engineering internships, please contact Ann Marie Chupa at amchupa@eng.ufl.edu.