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Engineering Students Put Classroom Knowledge to Use at Local Companies

WHEELING, W.Va., April 11 – Six Wheeling University engineering science students are putting knowledge they have learned in the classroom to practical use at internships with three local companies.

As part of the curriculum, engineering students are required to undertake internships. Those students are currently working at Kalkreuth Roofing and Sheet Metal, Tecnocap and Touchstone Research Lab. Shane Tomlin and Alex Hill are interning at Kalkreuth; Abel Setegen, Mitchelle Dube and Kuda Chitani are at Tecnocap; and Zac Gordon is placed at Touchstone. These internships are providing the students with valuable, hands-on educational experience that they will be able to use once they complete their degrees, said Bob Yahn, assistant professor of Engineering Science.

“The engineering program at Wheeling University is designed around the needs of local industries. Thanks to several local employers, virtually every engineering student in the program has an opportunity to work as an intern. These internships are essential for the development and growth of our engineering students, so that upon graduation they will be positioned to gain employment doing something they enjoy,” Yahn said.

He explained that engineering classes give students the ability to analyze and solve complex problems, which is important. Interning with the companies, Yahn noted, is teaching the students responsibility and teamwork. 

“As an engineering student interning at Tecnocap, I’ve gained hands-on experience applying theoretical knowledge to real-world challenges. This has enhanced my educational journey significantly by deepening my understanding of engineering concepts and their practical applications, said Setegen, a junior from Ethiopia.

He added, working at the company has instilled in him the importance of innovation, collaboration, problem solving and adaptability – all important skills to have in today’s workplace.

Zac Gordon, a junior from Wheeling, is working a Touchstone, the same company that employs his father, Brian Gordon, a member the class of 1984 at Wheeling.

“At my internship with Touchstone, I have been able to gain more hands-on experience with the engineering field than a classroom can offer,” he noted. When he finishes his degree next year, he hopes to join the team at Touchstone as an engineer.

Brian Joseph, president of Touchstone Research Lab, said through internships, his company is “helping to train the next generation of professionals who might one day run Touchstone Research. Anything we can do to train engineering students at Wheeling will benefit the Ohio Valley.”

Hill and Tomlin are finding their internship at Kalkreuth a great benefit to expanding their skills – in and outside the classroom.

Working at Kalkreuth, Hill said, has provided him valuable information and skills to broaden his engineering abilities.

“My internship with Kalkreuth has given me great knowledge on what it takes to work in the professional world,” said the senior from Pittsburgh. “This internship has showed me how the things I have been taught in the classroom apply to real life scenarios. This has helped me understand my class work on a higher level as well.” 

Tomlin, a senior from St. Clairsville, explained he has learned better time management skills and processes/procedures of project managers. 

“I have gained valuable experience working in the construction industry that I have translated to my courses at Wheeling. I have found that I have been able to understand class topics much more quickly now that I have a solid base of real-world experience to go along with it,” Tomlin said, adding his two years with Kalkreuth helped him secure a job with the company.

Kyle Sowinski, senior project manager at East Coast Metal Systems (a division of Kalkreuth) Tomlin’s direct supervisor, said Shane has been grown into a valuable resource with the company.

“He is always willing to jump in to help and willing to learn anything we pass his way. He has grown into a friend and fellow employee, that I and the other project managers can depend on. When we give Shane a task, we have the confidence that he will ask the questions and source the required information so that the job will be done correctly and in a timely manner. We look forward to having Shane as part of our team in the future,” Sowinski added.

Yahn is grateful that local companies are helping Wheeling engineering students gain valuable hands-on experience each year.