MURRAY, Ky. (January 23, 2014) — The Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET) at Murray State University is the recipient of a $450,000 grant award from the James Graham Brown Foundation for a new “Internship and Professional Practice” program. Known informally as “Test Drive a Racer,” the program funds will provide paid internship experiences for 30 students each summer. The initiative will begin this summer — regional agencies and industries will be invited to “test drive” Murray State students.
With confidence that Murray’s students will impress their employers with the preparation they have received through their studies and experience, the university is offering to pay each intern’s salary for the first summer of employment. The industry partner is then asked to take on a student and provide a matching stipend in the following summer, which doubles the impact of the grant. To participate, students must be pursuing a degree in the science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) disciplines.
“Students who have completed internship experiences perform better in the classroom and approach their education with an increased level of confidence and maturity. The students gain a clearer understanding of how to apply what they’ve learned. The real-world experiences enhance their preparation for the workplace, and this, in turn, makes them more valuable to their employers upon graduation,” said Dr. Steve Cobb, dean of the Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology. “With this unique internship program, companies can experiment a bit and invite students in to see how they perform with no long-term commitment expected, other than to remain a partner of the Jones College of SET as we seek to better prepare our students for the workplace.”
Through building partnerships for extended funding for “Test Drive a Racer,” the Jones CSET envisions a continuation of these internship opportunities for years to come. The university will provide an endowed financial match of $450,000 over the course of six years that will sustain the program for multiple cycles, bringing the total funds for internships up to $1.8M over the duration of the proposed program. In addition to the funding from the James Graham Brown Foundation, Murray State University major donor and alumnus, Dr. Jesse D. Jones, has already supplied $90,000 toward the matching funds. The college of science, engineering and technology is named for Jones in recognition of his unwavering support of MSU.
This unique model allows an industry partner to affordably assess the benefits of the program over a 12-year period, and strengthens the relationship between regional business and the university.
The benefits of the “Internship and Professional Practice” program are many and stretch well beyond the boundaries of the campus. The program creates an environment that encourages students to pursue degrees in STEM fields, enhances their skills to enter the professional world and affords them employment opportunities. Additionally, faculty will find new avenues of research or consultation resulting from relationships formed with industry personnel through the program.
As a result, the college of science, engineering and technology will be better able to develop curricular options and degree programs that are responsive to the needs of industry. All in all, the program benefits everyone — students, faculty, the university and regional business — Cobb noted.
The grant application for the program was a cooperative university effort between the Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology, office of sponsored programs and the office of development.
“Dr. Cobb had a well-conceived concept for the program and the James Graham Brown Foundation’s Higher Education Grant was the perfect vehicle for his proposal,” said John Roark, director of the office of sponsored programs at MSU. “The office of development’s assistance was the final piece to create a true partnership between our university, private industry and the James Graham Brown Foundation.”
Any company interested in more information on participating in the program is encouraged to contact Cobb in the Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology by email at [email protected] or by calling the dean’s office at (270) 809-2888.