Pikes Peak State College is partnering with local businesses to provide students with valuable work experience while helping to support local workforce needs.
by Karen Kovaly
It's no secret -- with the local economy thriving, there's a shortage of trained workers for a variety of skilled jobs. In response, legislators, local businesses, veterans support organizations, and Pikes Peak State College have been coming together to create solutions.
One of them has been the creation of state-funded internship programs that team the
College with local businesses. This helps businesses get the workers they need now
while creating a potential pipeline of skilled workers for the future. It also helps
students gain valuable workplace knowledge.
One such PPSC partner in success is Relius Medical LLC, a local medical device manufacturer. In the past year, it has employed eight PPSC machining and advanced manufacturing students, three of which are military veterans.
"Through our outreach efforts and networking contacts, we were able to identify another funding source for veterans, Mt. Carmel Center of Excellence. Their support resulted in at least three of our student veterans being hired just this spring," said Eric Knutson, Relius CFO, and HR Director.
Rodregus Jacobs is a Pikes Peak advanced manufacturing student studying machining
and a veteran who has served all over the world as a machinist. He went back to school
to learn more about his field and expand his mind.
"I'm learning a whole lot more about being a machinist now than I did in the military. Transitioning from the military to school was hard because homework creates a different kind of stress. But, my computer skills and blueprint reading skills have gotten much better. I'm very excited to be here at Relius and ready to get my feet wet," said Rodregus.
Connor O'Brien is double majoring in machining technology and advanced manufacturing. He's grateful his department chair, Michele Koster, suggested an internship at Relius.
His favorite part of working in this environment?
"I like to make what is being designed. My plan is to become a mechanical engineer.
In robotics classes, I was able to design and manufacture a robot, and it's interesting
to see the progression and excitement to know that it worked. It's the same concept
with machining," O'Brien said.
Part of the inherent value of an internship is a student's ability to see the result of their work. People using Relius products are those recovering from a trauma or accident.
"Since employees here have the satisfaction of knowing how these products positively affect the quality of life of the end-user, morale here is very high," Knutson said.
And, that is the kind of insight students don't always get in the classroom.
(Karen Kovaly is public relations coordinator for PPCC.)