(Intern Michael Lambert.) 

As an integrated design manufacturer, Nova-Tech Engineering provides automated robotic solutions for the poultry industry. Their operation is small but growing, and that doesn’t stop this Willmar-based company from providing meaningful internships and strengthening their workforce.

Every year since 2015, Nova-Tech has hired a handful of STEM students through the SciTech Internship Program to form a Scrum-oriented co-op. Thus far they’ve seen a good deal of recruitment success and have welcomed back several students for additional internships and full-time work.

“We’re able to build these long term relationships and then recruit from that bench,” explained Angela Koosman, a strategic HR business partner at Nova-Tech Engineering. “This gives the students the opportunity to experience Nova-Tech and it lets us get to know them, build that relationship and help them to know the Willmar area and the community so we can keep growing our talent in rural Minnesota.”

Learning by doing
This year’s co-ops include Ryan Sand, Peter Amundson, Byron Frank and Michael Lambert, all of whom are pursuing mechanical engineering degrees accept for Sand, who is studying electrical engineering. The projects they had this summer were varied, and each intern learned something different from their experience.

Sand worked on programming development for an international assignment where he had the opportunity to fix issues that no one had solved before.

“I found out how fast a line of code operates and got to test it with actual equipment to see the actual result,” Sand recalled fondly.

Amundson spent time 3D printing fixtures and adaptors. “I learned that I enjoy making things more efficient through manufacturing,” he said.

Frank worked with some of Nova-Tech’s engineers on integration projects where he got to try his hand at prototyping, testing and redesigning.

“I learned a lot about electrical wiring panels and how to follow schematics,” Frank recalled. “I wouldn’t have been exposed to that sort of thing if not for this experience.”

Lambert was excited that he had the opportunity to contribute actual design work on one of Nova-Tech’s confidential robotics projects. Looking back on his first few weeks, he recalled being pretty nervous about it.

“Every day I’d come in and be like, ‘Oh, today’s the day they’re going to realize I don’t know what I’m doing,’” he joked. “But I feel like I’ve learned that I am a quick learner and that’s given me a lot of confidence for my career moving forward.

Willmar, a nice place to live
State Representative Dave Baker joined the SciTech team on a recent virtual site visit with Nova-Tech and was curious to know how the students’ internships and their overall experience impacted their interest in Willmar.

All four came back saying that they really enjoyed the area and could see themselves living and working here. Lambert even added that he was hoping to secure a full-time position at Nova-Tech after graduation.

“Anytime you can help someone experience your organization and make that a positive experience, you’ll hopefully build that talent bench,” Koosman concluded.  “We just have to get our name out there and build our pipeline to recruit talent for the future.”

Get involved
Make an impact on a young professional’s life and strengthen your talent pipeline. Start planning your internship today at scitechmn.org.