Three engineering majors in UMass Amherst’s Integrated Concentration in Science (iCons) program are now working at paid internships with Massachusetts-based life science and energy technology firms for the summer. Olivia Czubarow, a chemical engineering senior from Wellesley, is working this summer at Anika Therapeutics of Bedford. Theo Smith, a mechanical engineering senior from Concord, and chemical engineering major Anwesh Yerneni from Mansfield are both working at Boston-Power, Inc. of Westborough.
While serving their highly coveted internships, the three engineering majors are also helping to satisfy the College of Engineering’s strong emphasis on experiential, hands-on learning as an integral part of the college education.
According to its website, the UMass Amherst iCons program “prepares our best undergraduates to be problem solvers, leaders, and innovators in science and technology. iCons faculty recruit top-tier students across a diverse range of science and engineering disciplines to identify global problems and find cutting edge solutions. The iCons Program aims to produce the next generation of leaders in science and technology with the attitudes, knowledge, and skills needed to solve the inherently multi-faceted problems facing our world.”
As one of these top-tier students among the next generation of leaders, Czubarow will work with a chemical engineering group at Anika Therapeutics, whose members are developing a second formulation for an existing medical device used in recovery after surgery.
Anika describes itself as “a global medical technology company at the forefront of pain management, tissue regeneration, and wound healing. We are committed to delivering innovative medical solutions that help patients feel better faster, look and feel younger, and remain active.”
Charles Sherwood, CEO at Anika Therapeutics and UMass Amherst alumnus with a Ph.D. in polymer science, says students in the iCons program have a proven successful track record at his company. “Internships have obvious benefits to students, who can be very effective and productive contributors to the company as well,” Sherwood says.
Sherwood adds that “We task interns with useful assignments and work with them to accomplish set goals, both for the company and for their own development. We have experienced professionals providing them with useful direction, but they certainly do a lot of independent work.”
At Boston-Power, Inc., Smith and Yerneni will conduct research in developing electric vehicle battery applications, including lithium-ion cell design and materials. Boston-Power was founded in 2005 in Boston with the goal of greatly improving the quality and safety of energy storage technologies that promote environmental sustainability. “Today, as a global supplier of lithium-ion battery products,” according to the company, “Boston-Power's innovative chemistry and cell design deliver industry leading energy density, wide operating temperature, long life, and safety.
The experiential learning that Smith and Yerneni are gaining at Boston-Power will also further the iCons Mission: “To produce the next generation of leaders in science and technology with the attitudes, knowledge, and skills needed to solve the inherently multi-faceted problems facing our world.” In addition, their internship will satisfy a College of Engineering goal that all of its students complete at least one experiential learning project, and preferably more, during their enrollment at UMass Amherst.
As a new model in science education, the iCons program has students work in teams to identify and conduct research on real-world, global problems while also completing traditional core studies in their selected majors. Program director and senior lecturer in chemistry Justin Fermann says this integrated approach provides iCons graduates with a significant advantage when they enter the science and technology workforce.
As the iCons website explains, “While deep technical expertise is critical to solving the world’s biggest problems, standard science instruction alone does not provide students the breadth of training they need to succeed as future leaders in industry, government, or academia. New skill-sets in collaboration, communication, leadership, and interdisciplinary thinking define the needs of the 21st century technical workforce. Organizations must identify and recruit employees armed with these skills to compete in today’s world.”
At Anika Therapeutics and Boston-Power this summer, Czubarow, Smith, and Yerneni are accomplishing all that and much more as they arm themselves with the varied skillsets to compete in today’s complex technical workforce. (July 2016)