Engineering mentorship program launched at MCVTS Edison Academy

March 31st, 2018

Students at the Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Technologies

Kamakashi Sharma, a senior at the Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Technologies, got to see the practical applications of engineering during a 10-day internship at Arm-R-Lite, an overhead door company in Piscataway.

“They had me go around all the major departments,” she said. “I spent a few days in each one, engineering, CAD (computer-assisted drafting), and finance and marketing.”

The North Brunswick resident, a civil and mechanical engineering major, said she was impressed by the interpersonal relationships among the employees, and that people in every department understood and appreciated the engineering that went into producing their products.

The senior mentorship program at the Edison Academy was started this school year to provide students with an opportunity to work on short-term projects alongside engineers in the workplace.

Twenty students and seven companies will be involved in the pilot project, with plans to expand the program in the 2018-2019 school year, according to Mark Mastrolia, cooperative education coordinator for the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools.

“We want to introduce our students to the world of work at real companies – small and large local businesses with engineering components who partner with the district,” said Sean McDonald, MCVTS director of career and technical education.  “We certainly plan to continue this program next year and beyond.”

McDonald said a summer program also is being considered for Edison Academy juniors.

Arm-R-Lite president Shannon McGrady (right) with Zachary Albee, a 2015 graduate of the MCVTS East Brunswick campus who was hired as a full-time employee

MCVTS students have been interning in various capacities at Arm-R-Lite – a national manufacturer of aluminum and glass garage doors for residential and commercial customers in Piscataway – for years, and several students have been hired as full-time employees after graduation.

The company’s president, Shannon McGrady, was the district’s business partner of the year in 2015.

“We introduced Kamakashi to our Fast-CAD program and she was able to learn that very quickly and do some actual work,” McGrady said of Sharma, her engineering intern. “We’re very proud of her.”

“Arm-R-Lite has always been a great partner,” McDonald said. “They do a lot of engineering and custom work, so it is a natural fit for students from the Edison Academy.”

The district also is involved in mentorship programs through the New Jersey Carpenters Apprentice Training and Education Fund at the Carpenters Union training center in Kenilworth, and students at the Middlesex County Academy for Allied Health and Biomedical Sciences in Woodbridge work with mentors on their senior “capstone” projects.

The Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School District, the first full-time county vocational school district in the nation, has seven schools on five campuses, in East Brunswick, Edison, Piscataway, Perth Amboy and Woodbridge.  The Perth Amboy Campus, the Edison Academy and the Woodbridge Academy have been named National Blue Ribbon Schools by the US Department of Education.

For more information on the engineering mentorship program:  Sean McDonald, (732) 257-3300, Ext. 1941

For more information on MCVTS, visit the district web site.

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