It has been nine years since electrical engineering professor Dr. Surendra Singh began applying to the OCAST R&D Intern Partnerships program. His goal was to help engineering students at the University of Tulsa apply engineering practices through internships at highly specialized and technical engineering corporations.
At the encouragement of Dr. Singh, Andre Leone, an engineering physics graduate, participated in the program. He is now an electronics engineer with Tinker Air Force Base where he maintains and develops communication and navigation systems. He is pursuing a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Oklahoma. The career was a perfect transition from his internship at Qual-Tron where he tested intrusion-detecting ground sensors and developed underwater sensors for military and homeland security use. This sensor research led to the improvement of an existing product that has been sold to the U.S. Department of Defense and internationally to allies in Canada and European countries.
“My experience in the OCAST internship program provided me an amazing learning environment at Qual-Tron. Most people have to work for years after college before participating in such a career-defining experience,” said Leone. “I have no doubt it’s what set me apart and helped me land such a great job at Tinker.”
The internship program helped Qual-Tron develop five new positions for a total of $200,000 additional annual payroll. Other companies have participated in the internship program including Tulsa’s John Zink Co., that has added two new jobs for a total of $120,000 annual payroll, and Railroad Signal International, that reports a $1 million impact on its gross sales as a result of the OCAST internship program.
Since 1998, 532 students have completed the R&D Intern Partnerships program at schools across the state including Cameron University, Langston University, Northeastern State University, Oklahoma City Community College, Redlands Community College, Southwestern Oklahoma State University and the University of Tulsa.
“OCAST provides matching funds, a financial incentive for companies to hire an intern to work on research and development projects. It helps the students gain excellent experience, Oklahoma companies find potential employees and it gives the universities a competitive advantage.” – Dr. Surendra Singh