HOUGHTON - A $1.3 billion-dollar logistics company has opened an office with the Michigan Technology Enterprise Corp. SmartZone in Houghton.
The Luxembourg-based Dematic launched a satellite engineering office in the Lakeshore Center in late April. An engineering manager and 11 student interns in Houghton will support Dematic mechanical, software and electrical engineering teams at its engineering center in Grand Rapids.
The process began two years ago, when Dematic learned about SmartZone while representatives were visiting Michigan Technological University for a job fair, said Mary Elliott, manager of software product development for Dematic.
"Looking to support our recruiting efforts and also to give options to both our intern and our engineers here, we thought it was a good opportunity to have an office up there, both to build our relationship with Michigan Tech, and to expand opportunities for our interns and engineers to be able to work in Houghton," she said.
The team includes students from Michigan Tech's Computer Science, School of Technology, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering programs: five software engineering interns, four mechanical engineering and two control engineering.
"Right now, we're in kind of a training mode with all three of the disciplines," Elliott said. "So they're initially doing some more simple tasks - editing drawings for the mechanical group, doing some initial investigation into some of the software tasks and looking at automating test suites and developing some test frameworks. But as they start to understand our industry, get some expertise in our product, then we'll start tasking them with some more complex tasks - developing testing tools and actually doing development of products in support of our software, development across the disciplines."
How long the internships last depends on where the student is at in their academic experience, said Jeff Lines, engineering manager for the office. Lines, a Tech grad, is also former team leader for Ford Motor Company's Houghton IT office. Typically, they like to have students who have completed at least their first year, Lines said; some are also heading into their senior year.
"For somebody that's just starting their second year, they may be spending up to three years with us on a part-time basis," he said. "And of course when we get up to the summer, we ramp up to full-time. If they're in their senior year now, they might just be with us a year, and then they graduate."
Elliott said the ideal would be for students to come in after a year and stay with the program throughout their time at Tech.
Dematic will also look into growing operations in Houghton.
"The hope is that this will be very successful, and we'll continue to expand both the number of interns, and also, as interns graduate, and if they're successful, and if they have an interest in working in Houghton, that would be an option," she said.
Both Lines and Elliott are looking forward to a bright future for the program.
"It's a tremendous opportunity for the students and for Dematic," Lines said. "It's exciting."
For more information about Dematic, go to dematic.com.