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Ideas put into action: Industrial engineering student makes most out of Rural Works! internship program

Chip Martin

As the finish line draws closer and closer, students are checking off their lists of required coursework, festive college traditions and internships to help them figure out where they would like to go once they get their diploma in hand.

The College of Engineering’s Rural Works! internship program, which connects high-caliber students with employers based in rural counties, is one way students in the College answer that pressing question. Forty-five students participated this summer, including Chip Martin, a third-year student majoring in industrial engineering. Martin interned as a process improvement engineer with Global Skyware, a developer and producer specializing in communication gear including satellite ground terminals and wireless broadband in Smithfield, North Carolina.

Martin shares what he accomplished and what he realized following his internship.

How did you hear about the program and what compelled you to apply?

I originally heard about the job through Simplicity, the job application website that NC State has. I was looking for industrial engineering internships and found the RuralWorks! internship program. I read through each one and I thought the one with Global Skyware matched up for what I wanted in experience.

What did your role specifically entail, such as what kinds of large-scale projects did you work on while there?

We really worked on two of the largest projects. The first was reorganizing an entire area including a conveyor belt with satellite belts. All the satellite dishes had to be taken off the paint line, stored and then brought back from the warehouse to be packed up. The second one was that they had an assembly line they didn’t need; it wasn’t profitable. The goal was to send the process to another company overseas by documenting the dimensions of the conveyor belt, tools and tables, and compile instructions into one, easily readable document so that they could recreate it.

The projects helped realign how I was looking at the big picture through small changes that added up. Especially in organizing the paint line area, we were figuring out the best place for the tables that would require the least amount of steps possible and reorganizing to see how many people were actually needed. I learned how to do time studies so we could try to have the whole process done in two minutes.

Also, by taking small details and putting them into the big picture, it helped us make things work. In recreating that conveyor belt from the second project, there was a lot of technical writing to make sure we have every detail so everyone knew what was going on.

How do you think your internship within a rural county differs from one that may have taken place within a larger city and larger company?

I don’t think there were too many differences. The company operated on its own so it wasn’t interacting with people from other places very often. In a larger city, there might have been a bit more interaction from other companies or there might have been more oversight from the place’s lead company in England. Some supervisors would visit, but not often due to location. So overall, the only difference was that there was less stuff around it that they could interact with.

How did this internship help inform you of what you might want to do in the future?

The internship itself was more on the process improvement side of engineering. I’m still not sure about whether that is the area I want to go into after graduation, but it provided a lot of insight into it. I still want to explore areas such as supply chain and management, but I enjoyed the work and could see a full-time future in this type of work after graduation.

What was your favorite part of the internship?

The feeling of creating something that worked, especially when the company would take those ideas and actually implement them. I would present projects to management and they’d say, ‘Okay, let’s set it up.’ It was rewarding and great to see my ideas put into action.

To learn more about how you can get involved in the Rural Works! internship program, visit the Career Development Center website.