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UWF engineering students make most of summer with competitive internships

Students in the electrical and computer engineering department at the University of West Florida are choosing to continue learning beyond the end of the school year by applying for competitive summer internships at companies in Pensacola, Fla. and beyond.

“ECE students enjoy great internship opportunities with local and national companies and research institutions,” said department chair Dr. Mohamed Khabou. “Students can see how all the theories they learn in the classroom are used in real-life applications.”

UWF engineering students have participated in internships at Gulf Power, QMotion, Avalex Technologies, Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC), Escambia River Electric Cooperative, Toyota Motor Company, Air Force Research Lab and other companies.

Khabou said internships provide students of this discipline with hands-on experience that is vital to their success. Internships allow students to gauge their interest in a particular area within the field, such as placement at Gulf Power leading to enrollment in more technical electives in the power specialization.

This summer, UWF engineering student Gedd Johnson is working at United Launch Alliance in Cape Canaveral, Fla., as a Junior Electrical Engineer Intern in Launch Operations. Here, he supports and maintains launch pads and auxiliary facilities, a facet of engineering he did not know existed prior to taking on his internship.

“I always had the impression that all engineers did design work … this shows that engineering is multi-disciplined and has a very large breadth and width of opportunity,” Johnson said. “That is why getting an internship is so important. In school we all like to speculate about engineering jobs and what the workforce will be like. However, no one really knows what it’s like unless you actually get out there and experience it.”

In addition to interests, students also gain insight to their personal strengths and weaknesses when they are evaluated by supervisors or mentors upon completion of the internship. The vast majority of these evaluations, according to Khabou, indicate a high level of satisfaction in UWF students, who are often invited back.

Such was the case for Prince Remegio, who is currently designing and building parts for vehicles during his second internship with Toyota.

“Interning at Toyota, I learned the way they handle their business. Business practice is a very important part of Toyota’s success,” Remegio said. “I also gained a lot of hands-on experience working alongside a group of engineers who entrust you with responsibilities.”

UWF has a strong local partnership with Gulf Power and QMotion, who have offered many summer positions to ECE students throughout the years – and often extend job offers after graduation.

“Employers do value internship experience when looking for full-time employees,” Khabou said. “We are grateful for their continued support and for their trust in the quality of UWF graduates.”