Walk in the door to the offices of ocean technology firm Navatek Ltd., located just a couple miles from the University, and you’ll think you never left campus. Half the staff is recent engineering graduates, and current students are interning there and working on research projects. In fact, when the Honolulu-based firm considered where to open its first East Coast office, proximity to URI was a major factor. The company was eager to collaborate with the URI College of Engineering to develop its future workforce.
What exactly are they doing at Navatek? Exactly what they hoped they’d be doing after graduation – hands-on, high-tech research and development. They’re working together to create software that will enable the U.S. Navy to design ships that are faster, more energy efficient, and can move more efficiently and safely through the waves.
Even before Navatek opened its new offices, company executives signed an agreement with the University to launch a paid internship program for engineering students to provide practical, hands-on learning experiences. The company also plans to send its engineers into the classroom to serve as mentors for senior design projects, which pair students with company personnel to solve real-world engineering challenges.
And what aspiring engineer wouldn’t want to get experience from a company like Navatek? After all, it’s a leader in the design of advanced ship hulls for the Navy as well as wind turbine technologies, and it holds patents in the fields of wave energy conversion and utility-scale energy storage. It’s a place with the feel of a small start-up but with the backing of a 40-year old company that spends $25 million per year on research.
Several recent URI ocean engineering graduates who now work at Navatek said their job offers came as a direct result of the work they did last spring for their final URI project on offshore wind turbine technologies. Professor Stephan Grilli had connections at the company, and he was asked to recommend several students, all of who were hired.
“We all know each other, we’ve all worked well together, so it’s been a smooth transition from the classroom to the workplace,” said Lauren Schambach. “And our coursework prepared us to be able to work fast and accurately.”
Added Maggie Craig, “Everything I did at URI is now directly relevant to what I do at Navatek.”
What exactly are they doing at Navatek? Exactly what they hoped they’d be doing after graduation – hands-on, high-tech research and development. They’re working together to create software that will enable the U.S. Navy to design ships that are faster, more energy efficient, and can move more efficiently and safely through the waves. “We’re taking the problem-solving skills we learned at URI and applying them to cutting edge research,” said URI alumnus and Navatek engineer Chris O’Reilly.
So if you’re looking to put your technology skills to work for some innovative engineering companies, URI is a great place to start.