Visitors to NCI pose on stairway

It’s All About Skills & Teamwork for NCI Interns

A troubleshooter… an organizer …a driver…and a marketer. No, it’s not the answer to a Jeopardy question, it is the skill set for NCI’s robotics interns.

It is summertime and that means that New College Institute (NCI) is buzzing with summer interns who are gaining valuable experience in a variety of disciplines. Four of the students are working in a unique program where, as robotics interns, they will have the opportunity to return to NCI in a part-time capacity when they return to college in the fall.

NCI’s interns have worked this summer to lead unique programs offered as summer camps and mini-workshops primarily for middle and high school students from throughout Southern Virginia.

As part of their learning experience, the interns have been challenged with designing and implementing summer workshops; upgrading and maintaining technology devices; developing 3D printing curriculum; supervising and planning daily, and routine maintenance of 3D printers and supporting technology.

The NCI robotics interns are Samantha Edwards (Virginia Tech), Josh Prillaman (Wake Forest), Austin Hurd (Patrick Henry Community College), and Christian Keeler (Radford University via NCI).

As is the case when you start a new job, interns had to quickly learn about each other and determine how to function as an effective team so they could to effectively handle their challenging list of assignments. When asked about their experience, each intern shared they have skills that were complementary to those of the other interns and they quickly set out to become a formidable team. Christian said he became the “fixer” of the group because he possesses technical skills and a passion for problem-solving and troubleshooting any problems that may occur. He said he owns a small 3D printer and was excited to have the opportunity to expand his skills on the highly sophisticated equipment at NCI.

Josh has become the “voice” of the interns. He is very comfortable speaking in front of groups and takes the lead on presentations. He has been the lead presenter for NCI’s 3D Thursdays and for recent visits from community groups including MHC After 3.

Once the group outlines what the workshops will entail, Josh created lesson plans to guide the implementation of multiple activities. He shared, “I may be the talker, but behind the scenes, we do it together. I have applied communication and leadership skills as a part of my intern experience.”

Samantha believes her organizational skills have benefitted the group. She shared, “I am the only female of the group so that brings a new perspective to the group. I hope that my involvement will encourage others and create more opportunities for NCI programs and interested students.” Unlike the other interns, she is not pursuing a degree in engineering; she plans to “major in biology (Virginia Tech) which will include the health and safety of engineering.”

The final member of the group Austin, a recent graduate of Magna Vista High School who plans to attend PHCC will continue to work with NCI as an intern for special presentations. With his experience as one of the drivers for the nationally competitive NCI robotics team (STAGS Team 1262), Austin naturally became the lead for student presentations in the robotics lab. He stated, “I like working with the students and showing them how to drive the robot.” He hopes opportunities at NCI will influence students to consider other careers.

There it is, in their own words. The intern experience at NCI is unique; it requires students to develop both the technical and “soft” skills necessary to be successful in whatever career they choose to pursue.