The Traineeship Program was a workforce development initiative developed by iUTAH to provide students with skills that transfer beyond the academic realm, and that contribute to a strong Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) trained workforce in Utah.
About Our Program
Through the Traineeships Program, students gained real skills. While there are many internship opportunities for students at all levels throughout the Utah educational system, iUTAH traineeships provided something different. iUTAH traineeships offered between 2013 and 2018 provided something different. “We knew we had students on the research-oriented campuses in the state that could benefit from gaining skills that were transferrable outside of academia,” said Ellen Eiriksson, iUTAH’s education, outreach, and diversity coordinator.
The Traineeship Program was a workforce development initiative developed to provide students with skills that transfer beyond the academic realm, and that contribute to a strong Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) trained workforce in Utah.
Trainees were paired with faculty and other mentors on campuses to gain experience in their laboratories or other work settings. As undergraduates, trainees served as integral members of research teams, learning new skills, and even serving as near-peer mentors, passing those skills onto incoming trainees.
The average student was engaged with the program for one year, although this amount of time varied depending on research needs. Students benefited from a team environment, training alongside graduate students and other near-peer mentors. Below are some examples of the many interesting projects that they were involved in:
- Linking sensor networks to science through ecoinformatics
- Integrating data and models for hydrologic applications
- Exploring green roof food production and green infrastructure water use strategy
- Social science data management
- Quantifying precipitation effects from the Great Salt Lake
The iUTAH traineeship has involved 31 students, many of whom are now employed in water-related technical fields, or continued their educations in graduate school both in Utah and neighboring states. These students benefited from access to iUTAH's diverse range of research and cross-institutional collaboration.
Trainee and Mentor Testimonials
Past participants and mentors alike praised the Traineeship Program as helping them gain valuable experience and skills. Here are just a few comments:
Phil Suiter worked as a data manager/research analyst with the cyberinfrastructure team and currently works as a civil engineer for Ogden City. He said that he “enjoyed working in the iUTAH trainee program because it opened my eyes to all the variety of work performed for research studies,” adding that the program “helped me learn the importance of the planning and preparation needed prior to field work which has helped me be more effective as I visit my infrastructure improvement sites.”
Natasha Griffin worked on the Provo River GAMUT, which she says "helped me to gain experience in doing fieldwork and collaborating with other researchers, which made me more confident about pursuing my own projects. I'm now working on two publications of my own as I finish my senior year, after which I'll head to graduate school in aquatic microbial ecology."
Brett Boyer worked directly with the Red Butte Creek GAMUT technicians on their research, and is now a control systems engineer, working with heavy electrical equipment and programming controllers for a gold mining project in Mexico. He said, “I grew confident that with time and effort I could become an expert on a given piece of equipment and use my knowledge to solve any issues that might come up. I also worked on a challenging project developing a self-contained sensing and datalogging system that greatly increased my programming and troubleshooting experience.”
From a faculty perspective, mentors appreciated that the program was not limited to a summer session, so students were available for as long as they were needed. One mentor said, “we enjoyed the consistency and enthusiasm that traineeships brought to the lab. The trainees always wanted to learn new skills and were always eager to help in the field and lab."
Traineeships in the News:
June 27, 2018
February 14, 2018
October 11, 2017