For the third year in a row, more students from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) were selected for summer internships through the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center's Internship Challenge than from any other participating institution. Over the past three years, 72 WPI students have been selected through this competitive program for paid internships at life sciences companies throughout Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center is charged with implementing the state's 10-year, $1 billion Life Sciences Initiative. The Center's Internship Challenge was created in 2009 to facilitate connections between life sciences companies looking for promising young talent and students who are preparing for a career in the life sciences. More than 1,300 students applied in 2011; 219 were selected by 128 participating companies. In that group are 29 students from WPI, the largest cohort from any of the 63 colleges and universities participating in the program. Last year, nearly 900 students applied and 170 interns were selected, of those 22 were WPI students; and in 2009, 21 of the 104 interns selected were from WPI.
"The students selected for these internships were chosen because of their talent, work ethic, and passion for scientific advancement in WPI's rigorous life sciences programs, and we couldn't be more proud of them," said WPI President and CEO Dennis Berkey. "The early exposure in our curriculum to team-based problem solving is excellent preparation for the productive roles our students play in these internships, in work environments in life science companies very similar to what they have experienced in the WPI laboratories. We applaud the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center for the vision and commitment to implement this important program."
Originally a summer-only program, the success of the Challenge prompted the Center to offer it during the academic year as well, beginning this fall. The announcement of the expanded scope of the program was made by Lt. Governor Timothy P. Murray on June 14 at this year's Challenge kickoff event, which was held at WPI's Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center at Gateway Park.
"The Life Sciences Internship Challenge is a key investment in future generations of the Massachusetts life sciences workforce," said Susan Windham Bannister, president and CEO of the Center. "Through this program, life sciences companies mentor and provide on-the-job experience for students across the state. Many of our participating companies go on to hire their interns on a full- or part-time basis. WPI has had the largest number of participating students for three years running. Clearly, WPI is giving its students great preparation and we thank the Institute for helping to make our internship program such a success."
Among the WPI students selected this summer is Peter Costello, a Worcester native, who earned a BS in biomedical engineering at WPI this year, and who will be returning to WPI to pursue a master's degree in the same field. Costello's internship is at 5G MEDICAL in North Andover, Mass., a medical device company founded by WPI alumni that is developing technologies that improve outcomes in surgery and wound care.
"We feel very fortunate to have access to such talented young people through the center's Internship Challenge," said Raymond M. Dunn '78, MD, co-founder and CEO of 5G MEDICAL. Dunn is professor of Biomedical Engineering at WPI, and chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery at UMass Memorial Medical Center. "This program helps emerging companies like ours, and it helps young people refine their career paths. The addition of such bright young people to our staff will allow us to accomplish much more this year as we continue to grow our company."