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Renaissance Internship Program is win-win for students, employers

April 21, 2010

Kelly Homan Rodoski
(315) 443-3784

As a graduate computer engineering student in Syracuse University’s L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science, Arvind Rangarajan thought he would have to move to the West Coast or a larger East Coast city to pursue his career as a computer engineer.

“I was under the impression that good career opportunities were available only in the bigger cities, where technological advancement is at the forefront. I am thankful the Renaissance Internship Program proved me wrong,” he says.

Rangarajan was placed in an internship with C Speed, a small, Liverpool-based product development services company that has turned into full-time employment. Instead of moving, Rangarajan has settled in Central New York.

Established in 2000 through the support of New York State Assemblyman William B. Magnarelli, the Renaissance Internship Program, part of SU’s CASE Center, is an innovative University-industry partnership aimed at strengthening the engineering workforce in Central New York and across the state. SU graduate students in science, engineering and information studies are placed in internships in which they gain critical experience in real-world business situations and local firms, both large and small, get talented student employees and state-of the art technology to help achieve their business goals.

The success of the program over the past 10 years is due in large part to support from Magnarelli. Since 2000, Magnarelli has secured more than $1.1 million in funding for the Renaissance program. SU will recognize Magnarelli’s consistent support with a special gathering on campus April 22 that includes partner businesses and current and former interns who have participated in the Renaissance Internship Program.

“It is a pleasure to help support the Renaissance Internship Program. The exchange of ideas and experience between students and local businesses is extremely beneficial to the Central New York economy as a whole,” says Magnarelli. “We are proud that our world-class institutions of higher education attract the best students to Central New York. Hopefully, the connections they make with local businesses will create job opportunities for them that will encourage them to stay here.”

Since the program’s inception, there have been 117 student internship appointments at 28 local employers. In 2009, 26 graduate students were placed in internships in the disciplines of computer science, software and hardware engineering, microwave engineering, mechanical engineering, business applications and supported technical projects. Many of those students are continuing in co-op assignments through 2010 and beyond while remaining in the Syracuse area. Over the past 10 years, several have been hired full time and have settled in Central New York.

Student interns work 20 hours per week during the academic year while maintaining a full course schedule and up to 40 hours per week in the summer. The program also helps to address the shortage of scientists and engineers in Central New York, especially in technological areas targeted for strengthening and growth in The Essential New York Initiative–a strategy for transforming Central Upstate New York into a knowledge-based economy–and local economic development plans.

C Speed has been involved in the Renaissance Internship Program since 2007 and has hired three students for full-time positions. The company announced in March that it intends to hire at least 50 new workers over the next three years.

“One of the reasons for our successful growth has been the funding made available through the Renaissance Internship Program,” says Michael C. Lesmerises, the company’s business development manager. “Our SW engineering center has especially benefited from our relationship.”

Stephen Esposito, president of Integrated Medical Devices, says his company would have been unable to secure a large software development contract had if it had not been for the SU students funded by this program.

“The Renaissance Internship Program has facilitated a public-private partnership by placing exceptionally talented technical graduate students to be embedded in industries that create win-win opportunities,” says Gina Lee-Glauser, SU associate vice president for research and director of the CASE Center. “The program provides experiential learning opportunities for students to apply theory to practice while providing a highly technical workforce to industry partners.”

“We are extremely fortunate to have received this funding over the past 10 years and grateful to Assemblyman Magnarelli for his continued support in the 2009-10 budget year,” says David DiMaggio, program manager for the CASE Center Industry Co-op Program. “We will continue to leverage our past employer successes while expanding the program to include small-medium size employers who are in dire need of engineering talent to grow their businesses in Central New York. Funds from the Renaissance Internship Program, coupled with the CASE Center’s visibility in the business community, will multiply the impact and awareness of the support provided by Assemblyman Magnarelli.

“Emerging growth companies such as C Speed, Integrated Medical Devices and others have benefited from the excellent students funded through the Renaissance Internship Program and have hired several students into full-time positions upon graduation,” DiMaggio says.

Rangarajan says he benefited greatly from his internship with a small company. “I had immense responsibility on my shoulders on every project that I was a part of, even though I was just an intern,” he says. “This taught me a lot of things, not just technical aspects, but managerial aspects as well. Every project I worked on gave me an opportunity to learn new things.”

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