An investment in East Carolina University is benefitting students and Keihin Carolina System Technology.
In its Tarboro factory, KCST assembles and tests electronic assemblies that control the fuel management systems of vehicles. The company sponsors the Keihin Lab on the third floor of the ECU Science and Technology Building.
"'We shall share joy with our society by being a model corporate citizen.' That statement is written as one of Keihin's fundamental beliefs," said Batt Masterson, senior manager of technical operations at KCST.
"Sponsoring the lab at ECU was one way we could give back to the community by investing in the next generation."
"With the complexity of the product that we are manufacturing here, obviously we have the need for highly skilled individuals," said David Catt, plant manager in Tarboro.
The Keihin Lab is used to teach circuit design and analysis, electromechanical systems, electronic and electrical measurement, and advanced controls.
"This lab has really revitalized the way we teach electrical engineering courses," said Ricky Castles, assistant professor of engineering.
David Leake is a senior engineering student at ECU concentrating in electrical engineering. He's had several classes in the Keihin Lab and likes the way it gives him experience with working with circuits.
"I want to work with robotics, so a lot of robotics is hands-on, building circuits, analyzing circuits," Leake said. "I think it's definitely been a benefit for me."
"I think it's really smart at a bunch of different levels," said ECU senior electrical and mechanical engineering student Ricky Tharrington.
"They're doing their part in generating a new, good generation of engineers, but they're also ensuring their own financial and engineering futures by ensuring they have people they've trained themselves, in a way, to work for them."
That is exactly what happened with Daniel Kirkendall '14. He is now an assembly controls engineer at Keihin. But when he was a student at ECU, he had never heard of Keihin until he had class in the lab.
"That was my first time hearing about them, and then I got an email saying they had internships, so I immediately recognized the name and said, 'Oh, well, I'm going to apply,'" Kirkendall said.
He interned with KCST for six months and then got hired after graduation.
"Just being able to work here while I was in school gave me even more motivation to do better in school, so that I could do better here," he said.
Catt estimates that over the past couple of years they've hired about 10 ECU graduates following their internships.
"I think it's great because many of my students have been those recipients of jobs at Keihin. What they learn here, they must like at Keihin," said Jimmy Linn, teaching assistant professor in the Department of Technology Systems.
With the student success and the success that KCST has had in hiring ECU graduates because of the lab, those in the engineering department are hoping others will follow Keihin's lead.
"The investment from the private sector in our education is really critical to us developing the 21st-century workforce," Castles said. "We're just really thankful for the investment, and we hope that other corporations would see the great things that we're doing at ECU and help us to expand our program."
"By putting their name on the face of the (lab) door that everyone walks in, they're making sure engineers know about them and have interest in them," said Tharrington.
Occupation: Assistant principal of Greene County Middle School, Snow Hill, N.C.
When Howell was an education student at East Carolina University, he did his internships through the Walter and Daisy Carson Latham Clinical Schools Network. In its 20th year, the network is a student-teaching partnership between ECU and 43 public school systems in eastern North Carolina.
Why I teach
“I wanted to impact the next generation.
It was my desire to be a positive role model. Outside of the family institution, the educational system is the greatest influence in empowering, redirecting and structuring the next generation for success.”
“My clinical schools network … offered so much assistance through my process as a clinical student, clinical teacher and as an assistant principal. The network has always been very clear with expectations, norms and procedures for the clinical sites and for clinical students. Coming from the network and being familiar with the program prepared me to assist interns and clinical teachers.”
Ready to work
“We use a lot of interns in the network. Not only are they well-prepared, but we often hire those in the network because of the support that we receive and the systems that we have in place here at Greene County Schools.”
Philanthropy builds opportunity
“Philanthropy is very important; it is the foundation for success. Knowing people care and putting it into action has afforded me several opportunities. My philanthropic views have been influenced through those who have spent time, coached me without selfish motives and cared about my future. Likewise, it is my goal to give back to others the benevolence I received.”