By Meng Yuan and Bethany Smith
Electric carmaker Tesla Inc. and Farmingdale State College are introducing a new partnership starting in the Fall 2017 semester that will give students the opportunity to get first-hand experience working with Tesla’s new technology.
Tesla contacted Farmingdale’s Automotive Technology Department earlier this year and offered an opportunity for students to get professional job training at Tesla’s solar warehouse in Hauppauge, Mohamad Zoghi, the Acting Chair of the department said.
“Finding a job straight out of college is really difficult nowadays, ” Kemar Dudley, a freshman mechanical engineering major at the college, said. “A big company such as Tesla to choose our school for this program will definitely give our automotive students real world experience of challenges and limitations they will encounter within the industry.”
This program would not only be beneficial to students seeking post graduate employment but also to the California-based automaker Zoghi said. “Internships are good opportunities for students to experience the real world industry, and it’s good for the industry to test the students as future employees.”
Students nearing the end of either the two-year or four-year automotive degrees will be given the chance to interview, and between five to 10 students will be chosen for the internship by Tesla. At the end of their program, these students will have a leg up in getting a full time position with the company.
“We are working in the department to develop a program in alternative fuel and improve electric vehicles, so this is in line with our long time goal,” Zoghi said
Farmingdale is working to increase the number of students who will be enroll in the Tesla partnership, but they are more concerned with the quality of the program than they are about the quantity of students as it gets up and running, Zoghi said.
The Nexus Center for Applied Learning and Career Development overlooks this and other partnerships and programs. “Farmingdale State College strengthens business relations by assisting our corporate partners by recommending highly skilled interns and graduates,” Nancy Connors, Vice President for Development and Philanthropy, said.
Hundreds of students are enrolled in these programs, which Connor believes, plays a large part in their 89% job placement within six months of graduating that the college claims.
The Nexus Center is a part of a larger State University of New York (SUNY) initiative that came about after the SUNY Board of Trustees passed Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher’s plan to make applied learning opportunities available to students studying at all 64 SUNY institutions.
There are currently 9,473 approved applied learning opportunities, with 40% of majors requiring them for graduation, according to the SUNY website. The goal is to make these opportunities available to every student that wants one, Elise Newkirk-Kotfila, SUNY Director of Applied Learning, said.
These opportunities help students engage with their academics and discover what career paths do and don’t appeal to them, Newkirk-Kotfila said. “You might think you want to work for a big company, but then you go and try it and find out you don’t.”
There are 15 schools that were committed to making applied learning a requirement for every one of their students, one of them being Farmingdale Newkirk-Kotfila said.
As for the Tesla partnership, only time can tell what the outcome will be, Zoghi said. “We can claim success when we have graduates who have good jobs.”