Interns gain real-world, hands-on experience

In just the first week of her internship at the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) at Marshall University, sophomore Isabella Schrader already is immersed in the innovation and entrepreneurial support for which RCBI is well known.

Schrader is assisting with the design of an orthopedic syringe for a project on which RCBI is collaborating with a surgeon at Marshall’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. This particular day she is creating three-dimensional designs of a prototype syringe using computer-aided-design (CAD) software. For her next project, Schrader will develop food molds that will improve efficiency and increase production for another RCBI client. She then will assist the client in marketing her specialty food products to a wider audience.

Meanwhile, Treston Withrow, another RCBI intern and fellow Marshall student, is busy putting his engineering skills to work. He has installed components on a new ultraviolet-light hand sanitizer that RCBI is helping design and prototype. Withrow also created CAD drawings of a sign for a local sporting goods business, helped reassemble an embalming machine that RCBI refurbished for the Marshall School of Medicine and learned to use RCBI’s 4,000-watt laser cutter to manufacture custom tooling RCBI helped design for a West Virginia small business that repairs musical instruments. Oh, and by the way, he has been on the job just two weeks!

“Internships are learning experiences for students, and what better way to learn than by doing,” said Charlotte Weber, RCBI director & CEO. “We hire bright, motivated young people, pair them with experienced mentors at RCBI, and immerse them in the entrepreneurial and innovation experience, from design and prototyping to manufacturing and marketing by tackling projects for a variety of clientele.”

Schrader and Withrow are just two of the college students gaining practical, hands-on experience through collaborative internship programs between RCBI and Marshall.

RCBI participates in Marshall’s College of Engineering and Computer Sciences Co-Op Program, which pairs qualified students with employers in their fields of study. Mechanical engineering majors such as Withrow work under the guidance of RCBI’s experiences staff of engineers and technicians to solve real-world challenges for RCBI clients – everyone from entrepreneurs to major manufacturers.

Schrader’s internship is through the Entrepreneur Immersion Fellowship collaboration between RCBI and Marshall’s Lewis College of Business/Brad D. Smith Schools of Business. A double major in entrepreneurship and sustainability management and technology (with minors in engineering and marketing), Schrader is gaining hands-on experience in a cross-section of disciplines and interests.

“I’m really excited to work directly with small businesses and understand how RCBI connects the Design Thinking process to the needs of entrepreneurs by developing ideas and creating prototypes,” Schrader explained. “By using Design Thinking, I’m able to examine a problem more deeply and create possible solutions that can ultimately help others. It also is great that at RCBI I will be able to combine – and apply – both my business knowledge and my engineering experience on projects.”

The orthopedic syringe project is of particular interest to Schrader, who studied biomedical engineering at Marshall before pursuing her business degree. “I’d really like to focus on biotechnology and go into the business side of the industry when I graduate.”

Withrow said he’s excited about the hands-on experience he’ll gain while as an intern at RCBI. “I’m eager to learn about the manufacturing process and work with people to collaborate and make things,” he explained.

Interns such as Withrow are not the only ones to benefit from the Co-Op program. Companies gain access to STEM-skilled employees who are learning the latest applications and new industry trends. Companies across the state and beyond have hired more than 130 Marshall students through the program.

If your company is looking for a STEM employee or intern, contact Tanner Drown, Co-Op coordinator for Marshall’s College of Engineering and Computer Sciences, at 304.696.3561 or at .

– Jan. 28, 2022

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