State awards grant for CAO tech-internships

June 14, 2013

Ryan Scott Ottney

PDT Staff Writer

The Ohio Third Frontier Commission this week approved $157,500 for the Community Action Organization of Scioto County (CAO), in support of the agency’s internship program to prepare students for jobs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics)-based industries.

The program will reimburse participating employers 50 percent, up to $3,000, to hire student interns enrolled in two- or four-year programs. Students are paid up to $500 each month, for up to 12 months.

“We continue to make Ohio stronger by investing in the high-tech jobs of tomorrow and ensuring our students can compete for these jobs,” said David Goodman, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency and chair of the Ohio Third Frontier Commission.

Bill Thacker, CAO chairman, said this is the third and possibly final installment of the state grant, for which the agency applies annually. To date, CAO has reportedly received $407,000 to assist 35 interns at nine participating businesses. Eight, Thacker said, were hired full-time where they were interning, and nine more have already received offers upon graduation.

“The kids are selected from groups that are studying biological sciences, agricultural sciences, engineering, computer sciences, math, and the participating businesses areas of business is advanced engineering, advanced manufacturing, advanced materials, bio-science, information technology, instrument controls and electronics, and power and propulsion,” Thacker said.

One frequent employer with the program is Yost Engineering, on Second Street in Portsmouth. Yost CEO Francesca Hartop said they have worked with the program for several years, even before CAO was involved, and have always had wonderful students with whom to work.

“It’s a great way to connect with students early that are in the degrees we’re looking for,” Hartop said. “For the students, they actually get to try out our environment and see if its some place they would like to work. We’ve also noticed for the students doing this — in the classroom setting you have one semester project and the point is to reach a passing grade — when they’re working on a project for us, since we put them on live projects, it’s not that the project ends at the end of the term and you get a grade. It has to work for the client or the project, so they have to actually work through all those last details.”

She said it’s great whenever they can hire an intern full-time, because they won’t have to spend six-months or more training that employee.

“I know it’s geared toward high-tech interns, but I think anyone that has those needs I would certainly tell them to look at it because it’s been incredibly successful for us. We have hired so many students out of that program,” Hartop said.

Any business interested in participating in the program by hosting an intern through the program can contact CAO Workforce Development Business Manager Dan Mault at 740-354-7541. The internship program covers students and employers in Adams, Brown, Pike and Scioto counties.

In addition to CAO in Scioto County, the Ohio Third Frontier Commission also awarded $211,200 to the Southeastern Ohio Port Authority, in Marietta. More information about the program can be found online at thirdfrontierintern.ohio.gov.

Ryan Scott Ottney may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or rottney@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTwriter.