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WEST LAFAYETTE — Manufacturing jobs are in demand all across our state, and thanks to one organization a number of college students are getting their feet in the doors of those businesses early.
IN-MaC stands for the Indiana Next Generation Manufacturing Competitiveness Center. The organization is hosted by Purdue University in partnership with Ivy Tech Community College and Vincennes University with the goal of sparking growth in the booming manufacturing industry.
According to their website, competitiveness and sustainability of the manufacturing sector are essential to ensure job growth and economic prosperity.
Now more than ever before, there is a huge interest in revitalizing local manufacturing and job creation.
Many of our local manufacturers are facing an employee shortages and are looking for the people with the right skills to fill open positions.
That's why IN-MaC is investing in education and students who will be the next generation of skilled workers.
The IN-MaC Summer internship program brings together sophomores or higher students from Purdue, Vincennes, and Ivy Tech with several industry leaders and local business participants in the manufacturing field.
The past two summers involved 150 interns and IN-MaC already has plans to double this, by connecting 150 interns to placements next summer, making 300 total interns over the three years time.
The 11-week program runs from May through mid-August with a $2,200 reimbursement to participating manufacturers.
"One of the challenges with internships is companies having the revenue to pay for those interns and providing those opportunities and those are two things that IN-MaC really helps with," Aaron Baute, vice president of business and supply chain and workforce alignment with Ivy Tech statewide, said.
Baute says students want these opportunities to work and these employers want student interns. It is just a matter of matching the two together with a financial plan that takes care of both parties.
Students learn soft skills and what is required in this line of work. They then go back to the classroom with enthusiasm and a better idea of how what they are learning applies to the workplace.
The companies also get access to a pipeline of talent from a younger generation of workers who could fill roles in the future, and will now have some experience and loyalty to the industry after completing an internship.
"We used to be on the model that someone goes to college, comes out and applies for jobs," Baute said. "And I think that's really went by the wayside. People have got to get invested in their career early so that they understand the culture and what's required of them."
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Hammond native Bayley Goodman is a senior at Purdue Northwest studying marketing. Last summer she worked at Subaru for her internship. The connections she made at that internship led her to her internship at Conexus Indiana this summer through IN-MaC.
As an industry support intern, Goodman worked alongside the talent team to help teach students and adults about advanced manufacturing and logistics opportunities.
"Some days I would work on mailing out different certificates from our higher tech students," Goodman said. "Another day, I might be researching different advanced manufacturing and logistics statistics and then putting it into a visual like a graph and presenting that to our team."
Cheyenne Laker also took on an IN-MaC internship this summer and worked at Batesville Tool & Die for the fourth time.
Laker is an aeronautical engineering student and her role during her internship was to check the quality of parts and make sure they are properly made and ready for shipping.
"It's been a lot of fun and its kind of nice getting to see what all happens on the floor and how they work through problems," Laker said.
Laker said what she learned over the summer will translate to whatever she decides to do in the future.
"I am hoping that I'll have a lot of knowledge and experience going into a job in the future and that I am well prepared for any manufacturing roles," she said.
When Purdue Polytechnic senior Megan Blackwell took her internship at Fiat Chrysler Automotive in Kokomo, she didn't know a lot about transmissions. Her field of study is mechtronics engineering which combines mechanical and electronic engineering.
During her internship, Blackwell focused on test stands where they test transmissions to see if her and her team could improve parts of the plant.
"I'm working on the valve body and the final test stands which is really important," Blackwell said. "We are looking at failure modes in the test stands and how we can prevent these failures."
Blackwell first became interested in engineering in high school through Project Lead the Way, but isn't sure just yet what her dream job would be. But she learned a lot during her time at FCA that could help give her specialized skills in her future career.
"I got to take down and put together two transmissions during my summer and I've never been like that deep into something that is mechanically that huge," Blackwell said. "It was really cool."
Current industry participants in the IN-MaC summer internship program include:
Ashley Industrial Molding
Batesville Tool & Die