Apprenticeship Program Helps Students Earn Real-World Experience and a Paycheck Without Leaving Campus
Earlier this year, Kyle Redmond received his first co-author credit for a paper published in a major scientific journal, a significant achievement considering he had not yet graduated from college.
“For an undergraduate, it’s not common to be published, said Stephen Gedney, PhD, CU Distinguished Professor & Chair, Department of Electrical Engineering in the College of Engineering, Computing and Design, and head of the CU Magnetics Laboratory. “He put in the work and deserved to be on that research paper, and we have at least two more papers lined up for future publication.”
Redmond was a senior when he began working in Gedney’s lab as a research assistant through the CEDC Apprenticeship Program.
Launched in 2020, the CEDC Apprenticeship Program offers students financial support for on-campus work that is aligned with their educational and career goals. Apprenticeships are envisioned to involve research experiences, teaching and lab assistance, or other programmatic activities connected to engineering, design and computing.
“It’s a wonderful program that the Dean set up – it’s allowing students the chance to get into a research lab where otherwise they would not be able to,” Gedney says.
‘An Opportunity I Could Not Pass Up’
Last year, $40,000 was allocated across CEDC departments to recruit and hire eight student apprentices, whose work was guided by members of the faculty. Supported by gift funds, costs are evenly split between the hiring department and the CEDC, with at least 80 percent of the funding going to support undergraduate students.
“The apprenticeship offered an opportunity I could not pass up,” Redmond says. “I’m incredibly fortunate that I was asked to come work with my mentor.”
In the lab, Redmond was directly responsible for the manufacturing and calibration of components for a magnetization experiment for the US Navy. This included a magnetic yoke assembly, Faraday coils, Helmholtz coils, and Hall probe centering collars. His research duties included experiment data collection, interpretation, and graphical analysis.
Work by other students who participated in the 2021-22 CEDC apprenticeship program included:
- Running the additive manufacturing print center and developing a print service to submit jobs remotely
- Working in a research lab on a grant-funded study to help predict Denver’s air quality,
- Designing, constructing, and testing a pneumotachometer device to measure lung function in mechanically ventilated mice and co-authoring four conference abstracts for the American Thoracic International Meeting
- Creating visualizations for a research paper and streamlining code from Spyder to a Jupyter notebook, earning a co-author credit
- Writing MATLAB software to analyze and catalog legacy electromagnetic data digitized from magnetic tape, thus contributing to a worldwide data archive and supporting an electromagnetic scattering experiment
Experiential Learning at its Best
“This program allows students to apply what they are learning in the classroom to a specific project,” says Mark Golkowski, CEDC’s Associate Dean of Education and Student Success. “I have seen many students leverage such experiential learning to jumpstart their career in industry. It is part of our strategic vision of educating the agile and versatile engineers of the future.”
Redmond is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering, something he had not previously considered an option, and is on track to graduate Spring 2023.
“I was in the Navy for six years before I enrolled at CU Denver. I came into it with a lot of real-world experience as an electronics technician and developed an interest in the field,” he says. “But it was through working with everything in the lab for the past two years that really connected what I’ve learned in my studies to how I would apply it out in the workforce.”
Redmond says the apprenticeship has opened several doors for potential future employers, who have already begun reaching out to him.
“It’s offered me life-changing and career-changing opportunities,” he says.
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At the CU Denver College of Engineering, Design and Computing, we focus on providing our students with a comprehensive engineering education at the undergraduate, graduate and professional level. Faculty conduct research that spans our five disciplines of civil, electrical and mechanical engineering, bioengineering, and computer science and engineering. The college collaborates with industry from around the state; our laboratories and research opportunities give students the hands-on experience they need to excel in the professional world.
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