Students Partner with Local Firm to Bolster Interest in STEM
Students gain valuable experience as interns with Aegis Software Corporation.
In the United States, producing an adequate number of college graduates who are prepared for careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) has proved challenging. With the share of STEM degrees just 16% of degrees granted per year, employers in these fields often struggle to recruit highly-skilled workers despite offering compelling compensation packages. Having a division in Germany where the partnership between business and education is the norm, Aegis Software Corporation, a technology firm headquartered in Horsham, PA, has a real appreciation for its value to both the businesses and a nation as a whole. By supporting students' education via internships, businesses effectively cultivate their next generation of engineers, scientists and mathematicians. For the students, they have the opportunity to learn how theoretical subjects they learn in the classroom are applied in a workplace setting.
For the past two years, Aegis Software has partnered with students at LaSalle College High School and multiple Pennsylvania universities to provide a platform for students to expand and grow their love for, and knowledge of the STEM fields. At La Salle, these efforts include a summer internship program hosted at the company's headquarters in Horsham, PA. Here, the students work side-by-side with professionals in the Software field, completing technical projects that include mobile app development, IT support, automated testing of software releases, and engineering of entirely new products. This program also includes university interns from schools that include Penn State University and Drexel University. The program goes beyond just the technical education, developing interpersonal skills such as teamwork, business communications, and time management — keys to success in any industry. The students form lasting professional relationships that will someday provide the foundation for their wider network.
Aegis' commitment to supporting students' interest in technology is not limited to internships. During the school year, Aegis also sponsors La Salle's Robotics Team (Team 5181). The group has just six weeks to design and build a prototype robot for the national FIRST Robotics Competition. Members are involved in all steps of the process, learning mechanical and electrical engineering, budgeting of sponsorship contributions, and marketing the team through social media.
Ryan McDowell, FIRST Robotics Coach and Physics Teacher at La Salle says, "As a Physics teacher, I see many students move away from careers in STEM fields because they think these subjects are too difficult. This is why opportunities like La Salle's FIRST Robotics program and the Aegis summer internship program are so important. Students are coached by mentors on the building blocks for success at a young age."
This fall, both the high school and university interns returned to school with deeper insight into how their classes will someday be applied in the corporate setting. They will have increased confidence, knowing that when the time comes to apply for full time positions, they will be able to refer to their internship experience in their first interviews.
While the program undoubtedly benefits the students and works towards addressing the STEM crisis in the United States, company operations at Aegis are benefiting greatly from it as well.
Jason Spera '89, Chief Executive Office of Aegis and a La Salle alum, says, "It's uplifting for our employees to witness the skill and enthusiasm of young people at the start of their professional careers, contributing to the Company's mission in very real and innovative ways. Being aware of the national shortage in STEM professionals, it is very gratifying for all of us at Aegis to do our small part to help renew this partnership between industry and education."
Learn more about the FIRST Robotics national competition here.