Students work with Intel over break

Ariana Grams

Seventeen NMU computer science majors stayed in town over spring break last week to participate in a hands-on learning course taught by representatives of Intel.

Students took this one credit course over the week to gain real world knowledge of computer programming while doing the work themselves with equipment they normally wouldn’t have access to. Students chose to have the course over spring break.

“The basic course was computer networking,” said John Webber, an engineering manager with Intel who taught the course with another colleague from Intel. “The best thing was working with the students.”

They taught about wireless routers and all the programming behind it so students could see how it interconnects to one big network. The students learned a lot when all of it got put together at the end of the week, Webber said.

“The biggest benefit was this was hands-on and practical,” Webber said.

Intel and NMU have been working together for about three years now on different initiatives, and NMU’s computer science department asked them if they would teach a course, Webber said.

Randy Appleton, a professor in the computer science department at NMU said that the relationship NMU has with Intel is important to the computer science department because it lets students interact with experts in the field that they are pursuing.

“This course lets our students learn something they otherwise wouldn’t get a chance to learn,” Appleton said. “The Intel guys can teach things the professors can’t. Meeting someone who’s actually doing the job is a good experience.”

The purpose of this class was for students to meet people in the industry and take a course in a lab setting that was hands-on where students work with real hardware to solve real problems and put it all together, Appleton said.

Along with the partnership with Intel come internships that two students are chosen for every year, he said. It’s a way for them to get their foot in the door for a job there, or it looks great on a resume.

As for this class, it is something that Appleton said will be ongoing within the department. They hope to have this class every year, he said.

“We asked our students about it and they seemed to love it,” Appleton said. “The kids gave up their spring break to do this. It’s a pure elective. I don’t think it will help anyone graduate, they did it because they wanted to, and that’s pretty cool.”

Matt Knox, a senior computer science major here at NMU, was one of the students to take this course.  Knox was also chosen for the Intel internship that is offered.

In the internship he gained real world experience working for Intel, he said. When he got back he applied what he had learned to help install WiMAX systems and work with WiFi systems.

Knox said it was definitely worth staying over spring break to take the course, and would recommend it to other students in future years as well.

“[I learned] hands on experience configuring equipment that is actually used,” Knox said.

Knox called it the “backbone” to what he will be doing, and said it is all related, so what was taught in the course, is important for students to understand.