Partnerships benefit all

These projects are mutually beneficial for students and industry participants alike.

Bob Rasmussen, director of technology strategy and advanced technology at Honeywell Aerospace, says it gives his company the opportunity to bring real-world problems to students.

“We understand that having real-world problems to solve brings a whole new understanding to students,” said Rasmussen, who is also responsible for establishing and funding the partnerships at the Polytechnic School. “Students learn how to think and speak on their feet, and the value of interdisciplinary skills and teams.”

It also brings inspiration to Honeywell employees.

“It’s a great return on investment in leadership time with our mentors,” Rasmussen said. “They get energized by the students and their creativity and excitement for engineering.”

That creativity can also earn students industry jobs after they graduate.

“We hire students out of almost every project we sponsor,” Rasmussen said. “It’s a great way to recruit talent.”

The program attracts industry partners from far beyond the Phoenix metropolitan area. Starkey Hearing Technologies, for example, is located in Minnesota. Project partners have come from Canada, Massachusetts, Texas, New Mexico, Michigan and all over Arizona, with small and large companies participating. Each year the U.S. Air Force provides a challenging eProject competition as well.

Degree programs focus on projects, hands-on learning

This is not the only time students work like professionals, and that is what students like Bryan and Feldmann enjoyed about their program.

“All of the project-based courses closely mimic what industry does,” Bryan said. “We follow the engineering process, starting with the concept, then apply the iterative process with a team that has different specialties and skills, and figure out what it takes to meet our end goals.”

Both Bryan and Feldmann are going on to industry jobs after they graduate this December — Bryan at a local systems integrator in Chandler, Arizona, and Feldmann at the Tesla Gigafactory outside of Sparks, Nevada.

They appreciate how their programs have set them apart and prepared them for their futures.

“Being at the Polytechnic School provides a unique opportunity to work with an industry partner and have a project-based learning course every semester,” Bryan said.. “It sets students here apart. We have lots of hands-on experience and exposure to industry and I know that a lot of companies are clamoring to hire the students here.”

View the full Fall 2016 Innovation Showcase gallery.

Monique Clement

Lead communications specialist, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering