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A Special STEM Internship

By Alizay Chavez

Two local high schools in New Mexico have teamed up to create a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) core career pathway. It was designed to help interns with their future careers in STEM (specifically engineering), regardless of socioeconomic status, by providing them with an internship that pays up to $3000. The company Growth Sector hired these interns to work with three national laboratories. Eric Shieldrop, the engineering teacher at Gallup High School, taught the interns STEM core to prepare for the internship at the end of the intern's senior years. It was the first year that this internship had been going on.

Despite some challenges, STEM core has provided interns with the opportunities to learn and create. Each student showed talent in STEM core. The internship is designed to explore these talents and build them. Interns take a year of STEM core where they learn engineering basics; subsequently, they take intermediate algebra and college algebra alongside graphic design to learn Solidworks. These three things are provided to them their senior year to get them ready for their careers. Each student is put into a team to design projects based on assignments, and minimal information about assignments can be shared for privacy reasons. At the beginning of the day, interns learn pre-calc (most engineering degrees begin with Calculus 1) to help them with mathematics in college. Interns have time to work on assignments and learn Solidworks after lunch.

Solidworks is a CAD system that interns use to design their 3d models. A typical day for them (after the math class) is getting into a group of about four other interns. At the beginning of the first week, third week, and fifth week, they are assigned a project based on the laboratory requirements. They will then discuss what they are going to design with their group members and delegate work. For the next two weeks, they will be working on this project. After that, they send in their initial design to the engineers who assigned them for feedback. Once feedback is given, the interns will rework their plans based on this. During their afternoon sessions, they also learn new things to do in Solidworks that will help their designs, like testing the strength of their prints. To go into more detail, students design a print, print it, look at what went right and wrong. Then they repeat this until the design is perfect. After this, they send it to the engineers and assign a new project from a different lab.

This particular internship, unique in providing STEM knowledge to students regardless of background and socioeconomic status, provides interns with the skills and expertise to help them in college-level engineering. Interns can earn up to 13 college credits by the end of their internship, opening new and exciting opportunities for interns throughout their high school and college years.

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