S.T.E.A.M. Program opens doors for students and school

Maximo Bunay, School News Editor/Op Eds/Clubs & Orgs

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The S.T.E.A.M. program at Saint Patrick High School is one of the newest programs opening doors at St. Pat’s but chances are you may not be aware such a program exists.

S.T.E.A.M. stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math and is the core of the program. During its early stages, students in the program collaborate in groups with other St. Pat’s students to problem solve and create projects, like the software for a robot your group makes, or the physical parts of the robot itself. S.T.E.A.M. is a new program created just a couple years ago. The faculty members currently in charge and involved with the program are Mrs. Burkholder, Mr. Newman and Mr. Martin.

Fortunately I had the chance to interview Mrs. Burkholder about the S.T.E.A.M. program. When asked what she thought the program meant for the students involved, she said it was important because we could “network with people in an actual field of work and form good relationships,” which will open a lot of doors for us as well as having a meaningful and useful connection. I also asked Mrs. Burkholder what motivated her to become part of the S.T.E.A.M. program as a faculty member and she responded that she wanted people to “dive into things” and “get their hands dirty” in order for them to find what they like or don’t like.

Another thing I asked Mrs. Burkholder is what she thought the S.T.E.A.M. program meant for the future of the school. She replied, “As the interns and people grow up and become successful, those same students who were given great opportunities can give back and help future generations of St. Pat’s students.” She also mentioned plans to introduce a course/internship with the Shedd Aquarium.

This was the first year of the S.T.E.A.M. III part of the program. Four students including myself, Trevor Hudson, Chris Salas, and Delano Walker participated in internships with people and companies connected to alumni of the school. Everyone of us went on a “tour-like” visit of all the companies to get and understanding of where we’d most likely want to do our internship. Each internship took place at the company the intern had chosen to participate in. I did my internship at Mid-States Glass & Metal Inc. Trevor Hudson and Chris Salas did theirs at Model Options, and Delano Walker was at Spring, Stanley, and Stamping Corp.

Mid-States Glass & Metal Inc. is a company that focuses on glass, window, and metal installation on high-rise buildings in Chicago but they also do specialty projects such as window and glass installation at Northwestern, Loyola, and the future Evans Scholar building. Model Options is a small company that makes detailed 3D models of buildings before they are built for architects and anyone who is interested in buying a physical model of the building they’re trying to create. Spring, Stanley, and Stamping Corp manufactures small metal pieces used in everyday objects but they specifically make springs and stamps.

My internship consisted of spending time in the office and in the back of the building, the workshop, where the physical labor gets done in order to prepare glass, metal, and any other materials that will be delivered to a job site. I  prepared metal frames by screwing in clips and helping them get the extra materials, such as nails and metal frames, ready for the projects they were going out to. In the office, I was with the person I was assigned to most of the time helping submit invoices, submittals for glass samples, and double checking engineering calculations for the glass and metal trim.

I had the chance to interview Mr. Labuz, a St. Pat’s alum who co-founded the company Mid-States Glass & Metal Inc and was in charge of my internship, and asked him a couple questions, including what he would say to students that are interested in interning, whether it be at his company or another one, and he responded, “Be open minded, not everything is cut and dry like how you see on TV. Interning can give you a different perspective of a field and answer your questions about that field but it can also show you something related to the field of work you are in” and that it is all “part of the learning experience.”

Mr. Labuz also told me he enjoyed the S.T.E.A.M. internship over the summer and thought it was important for both the student and the company. When asked if he would participate in another S.T.E.A.M. program, he said, “Yes, I would because it is very beneficial for the students to see what a real work field is like and to find what they like and what they want to do and the company can learn from it too and prepare for future internships as well as better themselves.” Mr. Labuz also mentioned it is important to do an internship and look at what you want to do in the future but it doesn’t have to be in the field of whatever you are interning for.

Overall, the S.T.E.A.M. internship was a success for the faculty, school, companies, and students who underwent them as well. Learning what life is like inside of buildings where people work day and night can give students a new perspective, different from the one they have made in the mind based on what they see on TV and in other media. One can learn many things about themselves and their passions, even if they are not interning at a place that is in the field they want to be in in the future. An internship can help one find what that field is exactly and what your passions are. As long as one keeps an open mind, for anything, then the opportunities are endless.