USM’s Ocean Engineering Program Aids Students Success Through Industry Internships
Wed, 10/18/2023 - 11:46am | By: Gabriela Shinskie
The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) undergraduate Ocean Engineering (OE) program in the School of Ocean Science and Engineering (SOSE) sets students up for success during their time at the university and beyond graduation, with each student participating in at least one ocean engineering industry-related internship. Each internship allows students to network and experience real-world careers before graduation.
Dr. Robert Leaf, Interim Director of SOSE emphasized the benefits of undergraduate internship opportunities for students in the program.
“Learning really takes place by action and can best be done by our putting students in the role of an early career professional,” said Dr. Leaf.
“Internships prepare our students to be immediately employable and valuable in the workforce.”
After completing their sophomore year, OE students are recommended to take a professional development course that focuses on resumé, job application, and interview processes. Then, they are encouraged to search for a full-time job that will allow them to put into practice what they have learned in their ocean engineering courses. The internship typically a full-time paid position and students must write weekly reports and evaluations on their work progress. That counts for academic credit toward graduation.
Dr. Gero Nootz, assistant professor in OE, said an internship is a great opportunity to build communication and confidence skills in a student’s related field of work.
“We encourage them to go out and start networking beyond the university,” said Dr. Nootz.
Their designated industry supervisors also provide feedback through personal evaluation forms.
Intern supervisors have credited the program as an excellent hands-on learning experience in real-world problems and solutions.
“We want them to use these skills learned in the professional development course to go out and find an internship without holding their hand too tightly,” Dr. Nootz emphasized.
Upon completion of their internship, students produce a final report on their experience and present it to other OE students who will embark on similar journeys throughout their education at USM.
Dr. Kemal Cambazoglu, assistant professor of OE, said acquiring an internship before graduation is a huge benefit.
“The greatest benefit [for students] is that our program is applied and multidisciplinary,” Dr. Cambazoglu explained. “They acquire a lot of knowledge and skills through the university. The internships then give them the ability to use that knowledge and those skills. They get exposed to a professional environment and learn how these companies work.”
For some students, these internships have led to part-time and full-time employment. USM graduate Matthew Tarver participated in the OE internship in 2020 and credits it for helping him secure his current job.
“My OE internship took place at United States Marine Inc. (USMI),” said Tarver. “My internship at USMI allowed me to develop my interest within my degree field and get hands-on experience outside the classroom. It turned into a part-time drafting job that allowed me to continue to advance my skill set while completing my degree at USM.”
Tarver was one of the first students to graduate from USM with internship industry-related experiences through the OE undergraduate program.
“After successfully graduating from the Ocean Engineering program, I was offered a full-time position at USMI where I currently work as an electrical engineer,” he said.