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Students are gaining experience through NCI's summer internship

LEFT TO RIGHT: Christian Keeler, Austin Hurd, Samantha Edwards and Josh Prillaman

MARTINSVILLE – It is summer time and that means that New College Institute is buzzing with summer interns who are gaining valuable experience in a variety of disciplines. 

Four students are working in a unique program where, as robotics interns, they will have the opportunity to return to NCI in a part-time capacity when they return to college in the fall.

The interns have worked to lead unique programs offered as camps and mini-workshops primarily for middle and high school students from throughout Southern Virginia.

As part of their learning experience, the interns have been challenged with designing and implementing summer workshops; upgrading and maintaining technology devices; developing 3D printing curriculum; supervising and planning daily; and routine maintenance of 3D printers and supporting technology.

They are Samantha Edwards (Virginia Tech), Josh Prillaman (Wake Forest), Austin Hurd (Patrick Henry Community College) and Christian Keeler (Radford University via NCI).

As is the case when you start a new job, interns had to quickly learn about each other and determine how to function as a team so they could effectively handle their challenging list of assignments. 

When asked about their experience, each intern shared they have skills that were complementary to those of the other interns and they quickly set out to become a formidable team. 

Christian said he became the “fixer” of the group because he possesses technical skills and a passion for problem solving and troubleshooting any problems that may occur. 

He said he owns a small 3D printer, and was excited to have the opportunity to expand his skills on the highly sophisticated equipment at NCI.

Josh has become the “voice” of the interns.

He is very comfortable speaking in front of groups and takes the lead on presentations.

He has been the lead presenter for NCI’s 3D Thursdays and for recent visits from community groups including MHC After 3.

Once the group outlines what the workshops will entail, Josh created lesson plans to guide the implementation of multiple activities.

He shared, “I may be the talker, but behind the scenes we do it together. I have applied communication and leadership skills as a part of my intern experience.”

Samantha believes her organizational skills have benefitted the group.

She shared, “I am the only female of the group so that brings a new perspective to the group. I hope that my involvement will encourage others and create more opportunities for NCI programs and interested students.”

Unlike the other interns, she is not pursuing a degree in engineering; she plans to “major in biology which will include the health and safety of engineering.”

Austin will continue to work with NCI as an intern for special presentations.

With his experience as one of the drivers for the nationally competitive NCI robotics team (STAGS Team 1262), Austin naturally became the lead for student presentations in the robotics lab.

He stated, “I like working with the students and showing them how to drive the robot.”

He hopes opportunities at NCI will influence students to consider other careers.

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