As we have spoken about numerous times, the labor market is very tight. Industries across the full spectrum report the number of unfilled positions to be in the tens of thousands. And the situation is projected to not be getting any better. “MIT Technology Review” projects that of the 4.6 million new jobs expected to be created in the next ten years in manufacturing, about half will lack people to fill them.
But this is not a new phenomenon in the field of engineering, and specifically control system engineering. We were experiencing the challenges of finding qualified automation and controls engineers at least ten years ago. We began employing the technologies to allow remote workers, making it easier for engineers with families and lives they didn’t want to uproot to join our organization. We also observed the graying of our engineering work force and recognized that we needed a pipeline of young engineering talent.
In response, we created our co-op program. We knew that we wanted our program to be more than just an inexpensive source of labor. We wanted to screen and treat these student workers as future employees, providing them with a complete company experience and giving us the opportunity to see them perform in a variety of roles. That was the basis of the very structured program we established.
Our co-op students go through a range of training programs as part of their orientation. We teach them how to wire and build panels. They get OSHA training. They spend at least a day in every department, from sales & marketing to accounting and CAD and field service, learning how all the pieces work together to deliver customer satisfying projects. By their third term, they are designing, testing, and installing real projects for real customers. They also get to participate in the company’s culture, from holiday celebrations to recreational sports activities. They become part of the Revere family.
It’s been an incredibly successful program. While we don’t extend job offers to all of the students when they finish their terms with us, of those who do receive offers, a solid percentage have accepted and are now productive employees in varying divisions of our engineering group.
How do the students feel about their experiences? Below are two testimonials from current third term students.
Hello all! My name is Avery Madden and I am a 3rd term engineering co-op student at Revere Control Systems. I am currently assigned to the municipal engineering division. This means that many of the projects I work on take place in water and wastewater treatment facilities throughout the Southeast. I have had the opportunity to work on many projects during my time at Revere. However, one of my favorites has been designing a control panel for a wastewater treatment facility’s injection well. An injection well is simply a hole in the ground that takes water from the earth’s surface and puts it in the water table. The control panel controlled the injection well influent valve, and, therefore, the amount of clean water that the wastewater plant would be returning to the environment. The valve was told to open and close remotely from the main wastewater plant by means of a radio. This project allowed me to use many of the skills I have learned in school. All subjects ranging from electromagnetics to digital logic helped me to design this control panel. It is very satisfying and fulfilling being part of a project that helps to make our earth cleaner and healthier.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Revere and would recommend Revere to anyone who is looking for a co-op in which he or she will gain hands-on, practical controls engineering experience.
My name is Hunter Milling and I’m a third term Co-Op at Revere Control Systems. I first chose to interview with Revere because the idea of working with control systems really interested me. I had enjoyed the Digital Logic Circuits course I took at Auburn and figured working for Revere would allow me to apply what I learned. After touring the Birmingham office and speaking with the Co-Ops at the time, I knew that Revere was the right fit for me. Everyone was enthusiastic about their work, and the tour of the shop got me excited to learn more about controls.
When I first started, I had very little practical work experience and did not understand how industrial control systems worked. However, Revere has a great training program for the Co-Ops and I quickly learned the basic tools necessary to succeed here. I now work for Revere’s Pumping Automation Controls Team (PACT) designing and testing control panels used for pumping applications. My time with this group has helped me learn how to be thorough and efficient when solving engineering problems
What I love most about Revere is the diversity of work offered here. Each of Revere’s divisions, OEM, Municipal, and Industrial, has something different to offer. The wide variety of work makes it possible for people with different skill sets to succeed here. It has also allowed me personally to see many different aspects of automation controls and get the most out of my Co-Oping experience. I would highly recommend Revere to anyone considering a Co-Op here.
For a more detailed description of our co-op program, read our post from January 2018. You may also enjoy our video with a testimonial from one of our first classes of co-op students who is now a full-time engineer.