Marine Travelift recently partnered with the Resch School of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UW-GB) to bring the first engineering co-op student to the company for a seven-month, hands-on experience.
The company on Yew Street in Sturgeon Bay has found success in the past with summer internships in departments including accounting, marketing, engineering and purchasing, and within the warehouse and on the assembly floor.
“The biggest difference between an internship and a co-op is their
duration,” said Michelle Waldinger, director of human resources for Marine Travelift/ExacTech. “Students who participate in a co-op typically alternate semesters of academic study with longer
periods of paid, full-time work. Internships, on the other hand, are typically short in duration.”
Will Stuart of Peshtigo is the mechanical-engineering major who was hired for the co-op opportunity, which runs June-December of this year. He will be working full time with the designers and engineers on multiple projects, including a custom spreader beam design for an industrial customer in Tennessee.
Officially established in 1954, Marine Travelift manufactures mobile boat hoists, marine forklifts, self-propelled transporters and other related marine lifting products. It also has an extensive U.S. and international dealer network, with more than 4,500 units in service worldwide.
Stuart said he has been able to apply several concepts from his classroom study at UW-GB to the design process at Marine Travelift. These include static equilibrium equations, beam-loading fundamentals and shear/moment diagrams. In addition, SolidWorks software – which Stuart learned to use in a UW-GB class – is a huge part of the design process at Marine Travelift.
“You don’t really know what an engineer does and how coursework is applied to real problems until you work in the industry,” said Prof. Patricia Terry, with UW-Green Bay’s Resch School of Engineering. “So, a co-op experience will enhance students’ understanding of the engineering field and make their classroom learning more meaningful.”
When asked how this co-op experience will help him to achieve his career goals, Stuart said it’s still very early in the experience, but “the engineering department has been very helpful at explaining the design process and challenges of these gantry cranes and marina forklifts, which are all engineered in-house,” he said. “I feel very grateful to have the opportunity to work with the tenured engineers and designers on real-world projects that are being manufactured 20 steps from where the engineering department works. It’s been such a great experience to see the cranes we design being built at the same facility.”
Matt Chike, chief engineer at Marine Travelift, said his own college co-op experience at Cummins Filtration in Stoughton, Wisconsin, was a great building block in his engineering education.
“Summer internships are great, but in a field as complicated as engineering, it is difficult to make a lasting impact in one short summer,” he said. “As soon as a student finds their footing in the company, they are on their way back to school for the fall. With a co-op, they can expand their engineering skills and work on high-level, meaningful projects for the company.”
Chike said an engineering co-op position is also one of the best ways to recruit local college talent.
This is the first engineering co-op for the UW-GB campus, and it likely won’t be the last, said John Katers, dean of the College of Science, Engineering and Technology.
“I believe this is a great option for the hard-working students at UW-Green Bay and will provide a win-win for all involved,” he said. “The co-op program will strengthen the partnerships between the university and the region, while also demonstrating to students that there are many great companies and family-sustaining career opportunities in the region.”