SMTC Offers Students Look Inside World of Manufacturing

SMTC, a leading mid-tier electronics manufacturing service provider, recently wrapped up its latest round of innovative student outreach programs. Four graduating University of Central Florida (UCF) students completed their senior design internships while 10 students from the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) took a tour of SMTC's manufacturing floor.

The SMTC internship program invites college seniors studying design, engineering and manufacturing to take a closer look at SMTC's manufacturing processes, allowing them to study and present their recommendations for efficiency and productivity improvements.

The latest interns to complete the program were from the University of Central Florida. For three months, they worked in the facility, studying a new product line. For their final project, they presented their findings and recommendations for improvements on that product line to the SMTC senior staff including Moore, who gave honest and constructive feedback to the intern team.

"Talking to someone whose been in the field longer then you is always something great that you can take back and help to improve," said intern Dusean Guerrier.

The interns said what they appreciated most was the hands-on experience they gained from studying and applying their classroom knowledge in a professional manufacturing facility.

"It was a great benefit to get to work on the manufacturing line and see how they make something from the planning department to actually building the actual project," said intern Natalie Hensley.

"It was great seeing how we could apply the knowledge from our lectures into a real-life application," said intern Manuel Molina.

The SMTC staff says the program is a win/win for both parties. The company gets fresh outside eyes to examine how they're doing things and that sometimes leads to drive efficiency and improvement. At the same time, it gives the students a real-world experience to be able to practice what they've learned in the classroom.

Several students from the Florida Institute of Technology chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) recently took a tour of SMTC's Melbourne, Florida, plant. The three-hour tour included a question-and-answer session and was led by Dan Prina, SMTC's Project Manager of Lean Enterprise and Continuous Improvement. The primary goal was to give the students exposure to a real-world manufacturing facility.

"It was exciting to see the machines and the systematic process they have set up," said Mario Acosta, a sophomore mechanical engineering major. "It was really impressive how exact and precise the machines are and how they were able to place such small components on the boards so quickly."

The tour was organized by SMTC's Michael Watts, who served as a chairman of the very same ASME Florida Tech Chapter in 1994-1995 when he was a mechanical engineering student.

Watts said these opportunities can make a difference in a student's career decisions. Some of the students were focused on design engineering, but were curious to see the manufacturing side and learn how the design side connects with the manufacturing side.

"With mechanical engineers, many go into design work, but some go into manufacturing in one way or another," Watts said. "That's what happened with me when I was their age. After interning at Rockwell Collins, my passion turned from design to manufacturing, and I switched to industrial engineering. This was like being on the other side of the fence."

"Many of these students haven't had internships yet," Watts said. "For 80 percent of them, this was their first exposure to a working manufacturing floor, so to actually get that feeling of the differences between the working world and the college world is a good first step in understanding that it's a different environment."