August 15, 2022, Klamath Falls, Ore. – As a mechanical engineering student at Oregon Tech, Chance Alford’s career dreams include working at a large company where he has an opportunity to participate in different aspects of engineering, not just mechanical. He’s getting the chance to do just that through the Multiple Engineering Cooperative Program (MECOP), with a six-month paid internship at Boeing, one of the largest airplane manufacturers in the world.
“I like the feeling of being part of a large group and being able to specialize and make a difference while working with others. Working for a large company allows me to experience multiple aspects of engineering. My hope is that Boeing would offer me a full-time job after this internship, pending my graduation,” Alford said.
Originally from Ashland, Alford enrolled at Oregon Tech to learn more about new ways to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of engineering and manufacturing processes. Now a senior at Oregon Tech, he is focused on mechanical engineering and how it applies to a variety of jobs.
Through Oregon Tech’s partnership with MECOP, Alford can gain more professional experience by working at Boeing. MECOP is a robust, hybrid educational and industry experience for university engineering students, which apply lessons learned in the classroom to industry experience in six-month internships. Four universities in Oregon, and over 140 industry members ranging across various industries, participate in MECOP, offering students the chance to apply, reinforce, and expand on what they learn at school.
Students participating in MECOP usually complete two, six-month internships, but because Alford is a senior, he is participating in only one. Many other interns Alford encounters are only at Boeing for 10- to 12-week summer internships.
“Six months gives me enough time to get trained up, then to start doing some actual work with the team, instead of just clerical work. I work a standard 40-hour week in-person, with the option of working remotely on Mondays and Fridays,” he said.
MECOP instills in students a deep understanding of the theoretical and technical aspects of engineering. It also gives them exposure to different engineering disciplines, diverse professional workplace experiences, and state-of-the-art technology. Alford agrees that he is learning not only technical knowledge, like how to use specific software, but also how to work effectively in an office and as part of a team. He shared that the variety of courses required for every Oregon Tech graduate also emphasizes teamwork and communication.
“I encourage every engineer who graduates from Oregon Tech to highlight the communication course requirements and their hands-on learning experiences to their employers. This will help you stand out and be a more valuable member of a team,” he said.
The Boeing team Alford currently works with is a Production and Industrial Engineering (PIE) Core team, specifically the NC Robotics Programming and Automation team.
“Being a core team means we are the central hub for PIE, and it’s our job to support all the other teams. Our team specifically focuses on creating resources for and supporting implementation of new software related to robotics and automation,” he said.
Alford already has some experience with robotics and automation as a senior member of Oregon Tech’s Autonomous Unmanned Vehicle Systems and Intelligent Robotics (AUVSIR)/Robotics Club, but the vastness of the Boeing operation is something new.
“I’m surprised by the size and scale of the operation here in Everett, Washington. The factory here is said to be the world’s largest building by volume and having been inside multiple times, I can confirm it is massive,” he said.
Alford will return to Oregon Tech to finish his studies later this fall. As a dean’s list recipient each of his years at the university, and with a Boeing internship on his resume, he feels that his chances of getting a job in the Pacific Northwest – hopefully at Boeing – are good. For more information about MECOP at Oregon Tech visit https://www.oit.edu/academics/mecop.