Engineering students going to Columbus for unique tour, discussions

Some 400 engineering freshmen will be taking a road trip Sept. 21 to Columbus to visit several businesses and learn more about the central Nebraska community and potential job opportunities.

The first-of-its-kind trip will feature discussions with professional engineers from the area, and visits to locations like ADM, Nebraska Public Power District, Loup Power District, BD Medical, BD Pharmaceutical, Vishay Dale, Camaco, Behlen Mfg. Co., Duo Lift Manufacturing, Katana Summit and John Crane Orion.

Leading the trip is Dave Williams, director of retention for the College of Engineering; Dennis Hirschbrunner, a retired vice president of marketing at HDR and UNL alumnus; and Roger Helgoth, CEO of Kirkham Michael. Both are members of dean Tim Wei’s Executive Advisory Board and facilitated connections with their business contacts at Columbus Chamber of Commerce and companies the students will visit.

“Our goal is to expose students to the exciting careers they can have with an engineering degree and to the opportunities right here in Nebraska, and in Columbus,” said K.C. Belitz, president of Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce. “Our area, and the nation as a whole, will need many more engineers than are currently graduating from U.S. universities and we are excited to be able to encourage these students by connecting them to the ‘real world’ of engineering. We couldn’t be more pleased that the College of Engineering chose Columbus to help them achieve that goal.”

The trip is part of a new community initiative for the college’s Engineering Learning Community and will expose students to Nebraska companies who want to hire them when they graduate. The learning community began with a residence hall cluster of engineering students who form helpful study groups. A wider group of 40-plus College of Engineering students travels each Spring Break to U.S. cities such as Chicago and Boston, where they meet with UNL engineering alumni.

This visit is part of an emphasis from the dean’s Executive Advisory Board, that wants to generate more involvement between Nebraska companies and UNL engineering students.