By Lisa Hook, contributing writer
OU senior Amanda Hinspeter already has several job offers and she hasn’t even graduated yet. In addition to a great education, Hinspeter is gaining invaluable skills through the Applied Technology in Business (ATiB) program.
Participating in ATiB does a lot to enhance a resume. Just ask Hinspeter or one of the other 12 students fortunate enough to have been selected for this two-year program that combines real-world work experience with academics. The students chosen for ATiB have the opportunity to work for some of the largest corporations in the country, while earning a two-year scholarship.
"It’s been beneficial, particularly being in the real business environment," said Adam Ostdiek, a senior at OU and an ATiB student. "You can put on your resume that you’ve worked at GM or another big company." Ostdiek learned about the program in one of his Information Systems classes and it piqued his interest. He wasn’t even aware of the scholarship until after he applied.
Ostdiek and Hinspeter worked at GM’s Powertrain headquarters in Pontiac to create an electronic training manual to replace the outdated paper process for the company’s MPPR (miscellaneous parts procurement request). "When GM engineers use this tool, instead of their old paper process, they’ll be referencing the online manual we built into the program," said Ostdiek. That’s quite an accomplishment for a college student, and just one example of how SBA students are transforming the Michigan business community.
Hinspeter, an accounting major, adds, "Not only did we learn how to train people on a program used globally throughout GM, we also learned how to examine a process, understand it, and execute it so that everyone else can understand it as well."
Hinspeter says she also honed her time management skills and gained team building experience. "ATiB has definitely helped me to get a job. I already have three offers and I haven’t graduated yet, so that’s exciting. I have more confidence with my real life experiences in the corporate world."
It’s clear that Oakland’s connections to the international businesses headquartered in Oakland County benefit SBA students, but the corporations who employ OU students also see astounding returns.
Businesses that sponsor the program donate both money and time over the two-year period. Their employees serve as mentors to the students assigned to their organization and, in return, sponsoring companies gain interns to assist them in everyday operations and on special projects, in addition to potential employees.
"General Motors benefits from having very bright and talented Oakland University students expand the effort and creativity on information technology projects," said Jeffrey Brennan of General Motors Powertrain. "ATiB students from OU have very impressive resumes," he continues. "Beyond a challenging academic portfolio, an ATiB intern obtains hands-on experience with real-world corporate business and technology challenges."
Brennan, who supervised the interns, is pleased with the work of Oakland’s ATiB students within GM. "Adam and Amanda gained experience with workflow automation technology and the business process involved in procuring parts for our research and development area," said Brennan. This technology builds prototype engines and transmissions for GM products for upcoming model years, such as the new hybrid powertrain technology for the Saturn VUE, according to Brennan.
ATiB began their relationship with GM Powertrain through Chief Information Officer David Essig, who has a long-standing affiliation with the Oakland University. "Dave Essig was introduced to the ATiB program and viewed the internship component of the program as an excellent fit for the General Motors Powertrain Information Systems and Services organization," said Brennan.
Mohammad Dadashzadeh is the ATiB director. A professor of management information systems (MIS) at OU, he oversees the program and guides the students through it from start to finish. Along with other faculty members, Dadashzadeh is active throughout the students’ internships, helping them get the most out of their experience by being involved in the entire process.
"The program’s objective is to allow students from essentially every major in the SBA to gain real life experience by working on real projects under the supervision of faculty members," Dadashzadeh said. "The ATiB program allows them to connect what they learn in the classroom to what happens in the work place. It’s a wonderful opportunity for the students to learn."
"ATiB sponsorship is a winning proposition for the sponsors. They get a chance to preview prospective employees while fulfilling their social responsibility in giving back to their community through scholarships and mentoring students," said Dadashzadeh.
But it’s more than a feel-good experience. In addition to 400 hours of project support and a semester of on-site assistance from ATiB students, sponsoring corporations also gain access to the combined knowledge of Oakland University students and business faculty, who bring innovative solutions to the table at a cost substantially below the price of private consultants.
Brennan, along with his colleague Robert Wilson, conducts periodic sessions to tie all of the ATiB students’ work to the overall objective. "The big picture includes delivering exciting new cars and trucks in the marketplace such as the Pontiac Solstice, G6 and H3," said Brennan. "I think that component of their internship might be the most valuable for the students. Adam and Amanda found it rewarding to deliver a software solution that allowed engineers to get experimental parts developed faster, and it’s important to GM to get exciting new designs and new gas-saving powertrains to the market faster as well."
To apply for the ATiB program, a student must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA, submit a resume and go through an interview process. There are a limited number of openings — about 14 — per year. The program is open to students in all majors and fulfills the requirements for a minor in Applied Technology in Business.
For more information on joining General Motors Powertrain in benefiting from the talent and creativity of the SBA’s Applied Technology in Business students, visit the ATiB Web site.