“It’s hard to believe you’re on Cape Cod, isn’t it?” says Mike Esposito, as he looks out over the expansive manufacturing floor at SencorpWhite.
Esposito is the company’s Engineering Manager and also coordinates their internship programs. He met with us recently to talk about how STEM learning plays out in their Hyannis-based advanced manufacturing environment.
SencorpWhite designs and manufactures many different products—from thermoformers to blister packaging machines—made using robotics and other advanced technologies. What seems especially interesting to us is the way their processes are “vertically integrated.”
As Esposito explains, this means the business thinks about and controls all parts of the manufacturing process from idea to design through to the finished products they create. From a STEM point of view, this is a great example of the way manufacturing can be as much about problem-solving as it is about producing things.
That is why, Esposito says, SencorpWhite is paying a lot of attention to building its workforce, both from the inside, with workforce training, and through educational outreach.
SencorpWhite has long participated in the School-to-Career Program at Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School. But until recently, their involvement was limited to presentations at the school’s annual Career Day.
That changed in the fall of 2013, when Dennis-Yarmouth’s School-to-Career program director Lisa Fedy contacted Esposito about a student who was considering a career in engineering.
Could SencorpWhite open their internship program focused on college students to someone still in high school—and not just in summer, but during the school year? The answer, says Esposito, was an enthusiastic “yes!”
Students in the School-to-Career Program at Dennis Yarmouth investigate careers in depth, with placements in community businesses for six hours per week during the school day. At the same time, participating students keep up with related classroom work, keeping journals, developing portfolios, and preparing presentations based on their experiences.
This structured approach turns out to be a good fit at SencorpWhite where interns participate in whatever needs doing, but are also expected to reflect on what they are learning.
“There’s plenty of time spent on the floor, observing alongside our assemblers and engineers,” says Mike. “But the point is also to get in the habit of learning how—and why—things work the way they do.”
“We really believe,” says Mike, “that internships can be more than just showing students what different careers look like.”
Most of us dedicated to STEM would surely agree: all students can benefit from learning in a work environment—because it is hands-on learning that helps students gain an understanding of how science, math, and engineering actually matter.
The SencorpWhite internship program was a success, with the first D-Y student staying on through his spring semester and another student joining as well. In 2014, Dennis Yarmouth Regional High School honored Mike Esposito with its Outstanding Community Partner Award.
“Our interns stretch us,” Esposito says. “Not only do they make our teams better, stronger, and more cohesive, they also add fresh perspectives often teaching us a few new things along the way."
“For SencorpWhite, nurturing talent and promoting young people’s interest in engineering and manufacturing is as important to our future as a company and community as it is to each student’s career,” he says.
The bottom line: internships are an investment that can go a long way for everyone involved.
If you or a student you know is interested in an internship at SencorpWhite, let your guidance department or career counselor know.