Best Practices for Engaging University Students

Dr. Blair London, FIERF Magnet School Professor in the Department of Materials Engineering of California Polytechnic University, encourages industry to focus on the future in a two-prong approach:  1) Generate Buzz about forging technology to be on student’s radar, and 2) Commit to Engage students through internships and on-campus projects. He shares six possible ways to interact with students and faculty:

  • Senior Project Sponsorship. At Cal Poly, the senior project is a year-long capstone design project (Sept. – June). The students work either individually or in a team on a project of interest to them. Industry-sponsored projects can take many different forms. Some projects are funded; $5,000 suggested per project. Other projects may be supported by test samples or in-kind support from the industry. The deliverables include a detailed final report and presentation plus an industry problem/issue that gets addressed solved.
  • Class Presentation. Make a presentation about your organization’s products, operations, and technology to a regular Materials Engineering class. Here is an opportunity to engage with interested students with significant time for Q&A. Most faculty would welcome this opportunity.
  • Internships. There is no downside to internships for forging companies. These represent a minimal investment on the industry’s part. In addition, they provide a summer-long interview process with outstanding results for the company. Meanwhile, students gain valuable experience. A great internship will generate a lot of positive Buzz about the company and the forging industry back at the university.
  • Plant Tour Plus. This is not just a typical plant tour your company would give to visitors. These students are the next generation employees, and they should be treated as if all of them would want a job at your particular company. The plant tours need to be detailed, meaningful and end with a small giveaway to the students (hat, t-shirt, water bottle, etc.). A plant tour can literally change a student’s career path – students really have no idea how interesting forging is until they can see it in action.
  • On-Campus Talk. Reach out to a broader audience through a campus club or society of interested students with pizza and presentation to talk about your processes and products. The better the presentation/interaction, the better the Buzz.
  • Research Project with Faculty. This would be a multi-year effort to solve a significant company problem that may align with funding from the Forging Foundation.

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