Closer ties with Industry

Establishing closer ties with the industry enhances students' ability to visualize long-term career paths


The responsibility of educating students certainly does not end with a mortar-board, tassels, and an elaborate ceremony! Education is a pathway to an educated mind and an effective contribution to society. Placement after graduation needs to be treated as a process that begins early in a student’s academic progression. The establishment of the pathway needs to be initiated within academic units so as to augment the efforts of the university’s placement efforts. Closer ties need to be forged with future employers in the form of site visits, webinars, internships, and guest lectures in classes. The emphasis here too is on low-cost, replicable mechanisms. One particularly effective technique is to invite guest lectures from potential employers to reinforce the relevance of curricular content. Prior experience with this construct has proven to be very beneficial in making course content believable and real. It is proposed that Award funds be used to support five activities per year including guest speakers, internship fairs, and site visits.

-Internship Fair-

In January 2016, the Second Auburn University Mechanical Engineering Internship Fair was held in the Lowe Grand Foyer of the Shelby Center.  Companies participating included: Forsythe and Long, Innovation Advancement and Commercialization, Georgia Pacific, Trane, Davis Machine Works, Georgia Power/Southern Company, Club Car, Neptune ,Seohan Auto USA, Naval Surface Warfare Center , CurbTech, Avid Solutions Inc. Over 150 students participated.

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In February 2015, the Inaugural Auburn University Mechanical Engineering Internship Fair was held in the Lowe Grand Foyer of the Shelby Center.  About a dozen companies participated in this event attended by over 125 students.  The event was targeted towards engaging sophomores enrolled in MECH 2220, Computer-Aided Engineering, a course that provides students with an initial set of marketable engineering skills.  Several students have received internship offers as a consequence of this event

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-Guest Lectures-

Supplementing pedagogical classroom instruction with timely presentations from engineering practitioners helps reinforce curricular content.  Guest lecturers were hosted in two courses; MECH3230; Machine Design, and MECH5970; Renewable Energy Resources and Applications.

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Joe Styslinger, from Southern Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, delivering a guest lecture in MECH5970, Renewable Energy Resources and Applications, Spring 2015

-Site Visits-

In Fall 2014, nearly 100 students enrolled in MECH4240, Comprehensive Design-I, visited the General Electric Aviation manufacturing facility in the Auburn Industrial Park.  Students were exposed to processes involved in the precision manufacture of aircraft turbine blades. 

In Spring 2015, students enrolled in MECH1110, Introduction to Mechanical Engineering visited Plant Gaston, a fossil-fuel fired power generating plant.  Transportation and food were generously provided by Alabama Power through the efforts of recent alumni Andrew Riley and Keith Dickey.

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Industry Industry

In Fall 2015, students enrolled in ENGR1110-Introduction to Mechanical Engineering and MECH3020-Thermodynamics-II visited the Tenaska combined cycle power plant in Billingsley, AL. This plant uses three gas turbine units in conjunction with one steam turbine unit to produce 885 MW. The cartoon shown below is a simple rendering of the layout of the primary equipment. A combined cycle is a very efficient method of power generation occupying a fairly small footprint.  

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The Spring 2016 plant trip took about 100 Thermodynamics-II on a tour of the Auburn University District Energy Operations. The tour provided students an opportunity to see real-world concepts that are studied in the course, such as refrigeration cycles and psychrometrics. Being able to see and discuss the chillers, air handlers, and cooling towers reinforced concepts discussed in the classroom. The trip was organized by Todd Parsons of Ingersoll-Rand and, Craig Elliott of Trane, and ME alumnus Ken Martin, Energy Manager of the AU Facilities Division.

Last Updated: Sep 22, 2017