Alfred University News

CACT summer internship program provides learning opportunity for Alfred University students

Dan Davison (left), director of the Pioneer Oil Museum in Bolivar, NY, talks to a group of interns.
Dan Davison (left), director of the Pioneer Oil Museum in Bolivar, NY, talks to a group of interns.

A group of 10 students, nine from Alfred University, are immersed in a summer internship program that provides hands-on experience in engineering and business. The internship program is sponsored by Alfred University’s Center for Advanced Ceramic Technology (CACT).


ALFRED, NY – A group of 10 students, nine from Alfred University, are immersed in a summer internship program that provides hands-on experience in engineering and business. The internship program is sponsored by Alfred University’s Center for Advanced Ceramic Technology (CACT).

Each year, a portion of the CACT budget, $100,000, is earmarked for workforce development initiatives, with a portion of that funding underwriting the cost of summer internships. The CACT this year is subsidizing several student internships (primarily mechanical engineering, and ceramic engineering and materials science majors) at private companies in New York State, while also fully funding the 10 on-campus internships. All internships are full-time and are lasting throughout the summer.

Of the 10 on-campus internships, five are mechanical engineering students (undergraduates or recent graduates planning to go to graduate school) working in the Student Engineering Project (STEP) Lab; three are business students working on a regional marketing initiative; and two (one Alfred University mechanical engineering student and an architectural engineering student from Alfred State College) are working on a project that will help market the IncubatorWorks business and industrial incubator facility in Alfred.

The students working at the STEP Lab are refurbishing equipment that will be used in the lab. The equipment, which includes a metal lathe and drill press used for machining, was purchased used by the CACT from a company that went out of business.

Benefits, in addition to adding equipment to the STEP Lab, include giving students hands-on knowledge of how equipment is constructed and operates. These interns are currently working on a project to research, design and construct a plastics shredding machine and plastics extruder, both of which will be used to student recycled plastics and study the effects of other waste particulates (including glass) on the plastics waste stream.

Interns working on the marketing initiative are Alfred University business students—two marketing majors and one accounting major. They are working on a project to create “ceramic educational kits” that will be distributed at schools around New York State promoting ceramics and ceramic engineering. The students are also compiling a comprehensive list of companies in Allegany County to assess what they need to help grow their businesses. “This is part of a broader economic development initiative,” David Gottfried, deputy director of the CACT, commented.

The Alfred University mechanical engineering and Alfred State architectural engineering students are developing “as built drawings” that illustrate the layout of the IncubatorWorks building, which will show, among other details, the size of the spaces in the building and the availability of utilities in each space, for example. These drawings will be used to help market the facility to prospective tenants. The students are also developing the layout for a ceramic processing lab which will contain equipment companies can use.

Recently, Gottfried, John Simmins, CACT executive director, and Jim Myghells, machinist/technician at the STEP Lab, accompanied the interns on a trip to the Pioneer Oil Museum in Bolivar, NY. They were given a presentation in Allegany County’s rich history in the oil industry, which included discussions and demonstrations on the different types of machinery and equipment used to prospect and drill for oil.

“It gave our students an understanding of the history of this area and the industrial activity that occurred in Allegany County,” Gottfried explained. “It also gave them exposure to the equipment that was used in the oil and gas industry, some of which is similar to that used by the mechanical engineering students in our STEP lab.”

Gottfried said the CACT plans to take students on similar field trips in the region. “We want to bring the students along to see other manufacturing operations across Western New York,” he said.