In today’s rapidly progressing technological era, bridging the gap between academic theory and real-world application is crucial. Equally pressing is the need for talented candidates to fill engineering and computer science roles in the region.
The College of Engineering & Computer Science’s Corporate Partners Program seeks to connect educational and workforce needs by providing ECS students with access to hands-on projects and career mentors critical to helping our students navigate meaningful next steps after graduation.
Collaborating With Corporate Partners
The Corporate Partners Program serves as a center of activity prioritized by the college to facilitate meaningful industry partnerships. Once a company becomes a corporate partner, its representatives have the opportunity to engage with capstone senior design and legacy projects, along with the ECS Annual Student Project Innovation Expo and an entire series of co-curricular programs, such as the Women in Computer Science and Engineering (WiCSE) program.
Susan Barua, dean of the college, says of the program, “It allows us to bring real-world problems that the industry is working on into our classrooms. Teams of students look at a problem using all of their collective knowledge, everything they have learned, and come up with a potential solution.”
Partnering with ECS also gives industry professionals:
- New perspectives. Student teams, backed by their ECS education and experiences, bring fresh, groundbreaking perspectives to persistent industry challenges, optimizing and innovating solutions while strengthening their workforce readiness.
- Future workforce insight. Partners get a preview of their potential future employees in action. They witness the problem-solving capabilities, team dynamics, and individual strengths of these budding professionals.
- Shared growth and collaboration. With the speed of change and the evolution of applications of the technical education our students receive, we seek to connect our knowledge creators – our faculty – to industry leaders to ensure we are evolving to meet the needs of our students and the workforce of our region.
Educating the Whole Student
In 2023, corporate partners included respected names like Google, Amazon, Cisco, Disneyland, Hyundai, Chevron, Raytheon Technologies, and Edwards Lifesciences.
While collaborating with faculty and esteemed corporate partners, students learn to navigate through a project’s entire lifecycle, from initial ideation to final execution. They also glean real-world insights and receive guidance in applying their knowledge from seasoned professionals. The partnership experience culminates in the ECS Annual Student Project Innovation Expo each May, where students showcase their innovations, garnering feedback and potential job opportunities from industry experts.
Students also benefit from:
- Real-world challenges. Students engage with genuine challenges, mentored by our corporate partners. Their projects resonate with current industry needs, from optimizing computer numerical control machine operations to exploring advanced 3D-printed bone implants.
- Networking and exposure. Interacting with industry mentors and professionals exposes students to the professional world long before graduation, allowing them to understand and experience industry cultures, expectations, and dynamics firsthand.
- Experiential learning. Applied learning is at the heart of the Corporate Partners Program and ensures students gain professional insights, practical skills, and the confidence to apply them. Students have a robust opportunity to explore, apply, and demonstrate everything they’ve learned at ECS, preparing them for a fruitful career.
The challenge we find ourselves having is keeping up with the student demand for applied projects, competitions, research presentations, travel funds, and co-curricular experiences that are instrumental to developing the whole student. Philanthropy and our Corporate Partners Program help close the gap. Generous investments often make the difference, providing these critical experiences that elevate opportunity for our students.
Michael Karg, senior executive director of Development, says, “It’s inspiring to see the enthusiasm our students exhibit when seeking out solutions. Our Corporate Partners Program is a force for good. When we take a step back and witness the transformational outcomes supported by our corporate partners, it’s life-changing.”
Meeting the Needs of Today – And Tomorrow
By building connections between the college and industry, the ECS Corporate Partners Program benefits students and the broader industry. It creates dynamic, adaptable, and skilled graduates who can seamlessly transition from the classroom to their careers and are well-equipped for the future of their industries.
“It allows us to bring real-world problems that the industry is working on into our classrooms.”
Susan Barua, Dean, College of Engineering & Computer Science
“This program is an important component to addressing many workforce gaps we see in Orange County,” Karg says. “Engagement from Orange County-based companies is critical to opening up communication lines and strengthening our ability to recruit, retain, and prepare graduates who will contribute to our local communities.”
To learn more about the Corporate Partners Program, connect with Michael Karg by emailing email@example.com or calling 657.278.3348. See projects that involved corporate sponsors on display by watching our short video.