Joshua Sirkin wants to pursue a career in electrical and computer engineering and, in his own words, "There is no better way to learn than from experience."
As the first recipient of the HeadsUP Bechtel Scholars Award, the 11th grader from Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda is getting the experience this summer, interning at Bechtel Power Corp. in Frederick. He's also getting the education, taking college-level engineering courses at HeadsUP (the Hopkins Engineering Advanced Summer University Program) in Montgomery County.
Not only is Sirkin's internship salaried, but Bechtel has also awarded him a $1,000 scholarship to offset some of the tuition costs of the HeadsUP program. The Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering HeadsUP summer program offers introductory engineering and biotech college credit courses and internship opportunities.
Bechtel is a long-term corporate partner with Johns Hopkins University, but this is the first year HeadsUP and the company have collaborated to create the Bechtel Scholars Program. Sirkin competed for the Bechtel internship with other local high-school students who are enrolled in HeadsUP and, according to Ed Perko, Bechtel Power Corp. operations manager, was chosen because of his grades, computer acumen and interest in "hands-on" engineering.
Sirkin is working on Bechtel's Six Sigma Program, a program designed to improve work processes and to quantify the success of these improvements.
"Joshua will be helping with the statistical analysis, which means he'll learn what we do, how we do it, and whether or not it works," explained Perko. Perko and HeadsUP Director Richard Scott agree that the HeadsUP program is an excellent introduction to real-world engineering.
"The students who make the commitment to HeadsUP already know they want to pursue this educational direction but aren't aware of the wide array of choices available to them in the field of engineering," Scott said. "HeadsUP gives them a broader academic and professional understanding of what this choice actually encompasses.
"This type of experience," Perko said, "allows companies like Bechtel to build bridges to future employees. It's a win-win situation for everyone."
HeadsUP offers seven-week summer introductory engineering and biotech college credit courses and possible internships to qualified high-school juniors and seniors and early college students. Courses are held at the Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus.
Bechtel is one of the world's largest engineering-construction firms. Founded in 1898, it provides premier technical, management, and directly related services to develop, manage, engineer, build, and operate installations for its worldwide customers. Bechtel's 47,000 employees are teamed with customers, partners, and suppliers on some 900 projects in nearly 60 countries. In 2002, Bechtel booked $12.2 billion in new business and worked off $11.6 billion in revenues.
For information on HeadsUP or students who are interning at local corporations, contact Richard Scott at 301-294-7170 or visit http://www.headsup.jhu.edu.
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