STEM Internships Offer Valuable Summer Learning

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(Photo courtesy of EarthCruiser)

Three Bend high school students intern at EarthCruiser putting STEM knowledge to use.

While students across the region take a break from the classroom, three Bend students jumped into a new type of classroom, the workplace, as summer interns at EarthCruiser USA, a local expedition vehicle designer. The goals of the summer internship are to expose students to career areas of interest in a meaningful way.

EarthCruiser has previously hosted interns from OSU-Cascades’ Energy Systems Engineering Program, one leading to employment for Austin Steimer, now the Engineering Department Manager. But this summer is the first time EarthCruiser has worked with high school students. Lance Gillies, EarthCruiser owner, remarked: “EarthCruiser is a small, fast growing company. Why in the world would we knowingly bring in extra work for ourselves when we have normal day to day issues to deal with? Simple, we live here too. Investing in these young people is something we passionately believe in, they are the future. They deserve the chance at getting some real experience so they can make the informed decision about their future. Simply, it takes a village and we are grateful for the opportunity to participate a small way.”

The partnership between the Central Oregon STEM Hub, Bend-Lapine School District, and EarthCruiser began during the 2016-2017 school year. EarthCruiser was an early supporter of the first Central Oregon Skilled Trades & Apprenticeship Fair held last November at COCC’s Redmond Campus. EarthCruiser went on to host students from Bend-LaPine’s engineering rotations, an opportunity for students to visit a variety of sites where engineers work.

Earthcruiser participated in the Central Oregon STEM Hub’s Teacher@Industry series, inviting educators and administrators into their facility for a behind the scenes tour and discussion about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills and career pathways from an industry perspective. Following these activities, EarthCruiser was keen to invite high school students into their facility as interns.

The first round of high school Interns have reported that the opportunity at EarthCrusier has opened their eyes to what goes into the engineering design and manufacturing process. “I have learned that there is much more that is taken into consideration when engineering a product, than just, ‘does it fit,’” said one of the interns. Similarly, students in internships are exposed to careers, allowing them to explore possible career paths and “fit.”

Each of the summer interns at EarthCruiser have reported they now plan to pursue an engineering degree.

“The Central Oregon STEM Hub is thrilled to play a part in brokering relationships that lead to youth work experience in industries that spark young people’s passion for entrepreneurship, engineering, and STEM. We are grateful to partners like EarthCruiser who are willing to open up their workplace to support youth development,” said Whitney Swander, executive director of the Central Oregon STEM Hub.

Central Oregon STEM Hub
The Central Oregon STEM Hub is a partnership connecting K-12 schools, higher education, community organizations, and industry in Deschutes, Crook, and Jefferson Counties to align, enhance, and catalyze opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Career exploration and creating well-lit, aligned pathways for young people to find meaningful careers in STEM fields are shared goals among STEM Hub partners.

EarthCruiser Overland Vehicles Ltd.
61510 American Lane, Suite 140
Bend, Oregon 97702
541-706-9101
www.Earthcruiser.com

Tracy Willson-Scott
Central Oregon STEM Hub
tracy.willson-scott@hdesd.org
541-633-3443

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