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A Virtual Internship Experience

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation Division Technical Session 7

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Rodney Boehm Texas A&M University College of Engineering

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Rodney Boehm is the Director of Engineering Entrepreneurship and an Associate Professor of Practice in the Texas A&M University College of Engineering. He has broad industry experiences, including over 35 years in all aspects of the telecommunications industry (sales, marketing, manufacturing, business development, and technical design), the creation of a telecommunications standard (SONET - Synchronous Optical Network) for the fiber optics industry that is still in use internationally over 30 years later, a wide variety of business experiences in international companies, and startup experiences. This has helped him lead a very successful industry career.

Currently he is using his technical business experiences to develop and run innovation and entrepreneurial programs for the Engineering Innovation Center, a 20,000 sq ft rapid prototyping facility. These include Aggies Invent, TAMU iSITE, Inventeer, and Pop Up Classes. In addition, he mentors multiple entrepreneurial teams.

Formerly he was a Senior Vice President of Fujitsu Network Communications, headquartered in Richardson, Texas. With over 30 years of experience in telecommunications, Rodney was responsible for developing partnerships with leading network technology providers and driving marketing efforts for optical, access and data products developed by Fujitsu. Rodney was Chairman of the T1X1 Technical Sub-Committee (the organization responsible for SONET standardization) from 1990 through 1994. He has been active in SONET's National and International Standardization since 1985. In addition, Rodney has published numerous papers and presentations on SONET.

Rodney began his career with Fujitsu Network Communications in 1989 as the Director of Strategic Planning. He also held the positions of Director of Transport Product Planning, Vice President of Business Management, Senior Vice President of Sales Management, Senior Vice President of Manufacturing, and Senior Vice President of Business Development. Before joining Fujitsu, Rodney worked for Bell Laboratories, Bellcore (now Telcordia), and Rockwell International. He earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering at Texas A&M University.

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Michael Beyerlein Texas A&M University

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Michael Beyerlein is a Professor in the Human Resource Development Graduate Program at Texas A&M University. Formerly, he was professor and department head of Organizational Leadership & Supervision at Purdue and prior to that Founding Director of the Center for Collaborative Organizations and Professor of Industrial/Organizational Psychology at the University of North Texas. His books, book chapters, and articles usually address the topics of teams and collaboration, creativity and innovation, knowledge management, and intangible capital. His research interests include: team creativity, emergence of virtual organizations, and innovation science. His most recent edited book is The handbook for high performance virtual teams with Jill Nemiro and others.

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Kiersten Potter Student Engineers' Council

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Kiersten is a first-generation Aggie from Katy, Texas. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and is earning a certificate in Holistic Leadership. As a student, she is President of the Student Engineers’ Council and has participated in the Business Fellows XXXVIII Program, the Zachry Leadership Program, Fish Aides, Horizons Consulting Guild, and Engineering Honors. Upon graduation, Kiersten hopes to use her internship, study abroad, and organization experience to pursue a career in the energy sector. Having grown up abroad, she hopes to live internationally again sometime in the future.

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Jiacheng Lu


Lori L. Moore Texas A&M University

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Dr. Lori Moore is an Associate Professor in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications at Texas A&M University. Dr. Moore teaches introductory leadership, leadership theory, adult education, and methods of teaching courses and supervises students completing their supervised clinical student teaching experience in local high school agriculture programs. She has provided instructional support to two learning communities, one, the Leadership Living Learning Community (L3C), for freshmen students interested in leadership, and one for veteran students. Through her work with the L3C between 2008 and 2020, Dr. Moore has provided leadership to a community of almost 1000 former participants. Dr. Moore has strong research interests in teaching and learning in higher education, specifically at the intersection of academic and student affairs.

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COVID-19 changed everything. During April 2020, the Student Engineers’ Council (SEC) at a large southwest university recognized that many students in the college of engineering were notified that their summer internships with companies had been cancelled. It was devastating to students who wondered how they were going to replace the professional development experience outside of the classroom. In three weeks, the President of SEC and Professors of the Practice from the engineering entrepreneurship program developed a summer training program which focused on professional skill development through a virtual implementation. All of the faculty involved had run internship programs in their companies and were convinced that a program could be offered, not to completely replace an internship at a company, but to build the professional skills students would need in their jobs. Ultimately, the virtual internship program involved over 350 students, almost 60 mentors, and 7 faculty. It was divided into two 6-week phases – 1) professional skill training and 2) teamwork project implementation. The second phase involved mentors to guide student teams as they investigated the commercialization of their assigned product or service. The final presentation by student teams was as if they were presenting to a group of executives from the virtual company they had worked for, to fund their project to move to the next level. Students presented a technical, marketing, sales, manufacturing, and financial plan for their project. Surveys were conducted pre and post training to assess the effectiveness of skill development. A final survey was conducted of students and mentors which will be combined with faculty data gathered via interviews to assess the effectiveness of teamwork development. Overall, students gave the program high praises and the university is determining how to implement this program in the future. The paper will provide the details of the program, results of the survey data, and findings from various interviews of participants.

Boehm, R., & Beyerlein, M., & Potter, K., & Lu, J., & Moore, L. L. (2021, July), A Virtual Internship Experience Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36631

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