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[Audio] MSU 'Test Drive a Racer' Program Enters Second Year with "Glowing" Feedback

Matt Markgraf, WKMS

The Murray State University 'Test Drive a Racer' internship program is in its second year and has been met with "glowing" praise from employers says Dr. Steve Cobb, Dean of the Jones College of Science, Engineering & Technology. He stops by Sounds Good to speak with Tracy Ross about how the program helps get students in the door at companies and government institutions where it might otherwise be difficult; they also discuss construction on campus, a career day later this week and opportunities for study abroad.

The Test Drive a Racer program is an internship opportunity in the Jones College of Science, Engineering & Technology, pitched two years ago to the James Graham Brown Foundation in Louisville. The premise was that MSU students were good at what they do and employers would be happy with their performance - that if a company or government agency could 'try them out' that they'll impress their employer and thus lead to long-time partnerships and employment. They received $450,000 dollars in seed money and pay internship stipends to students.

The focus is to maintain relationships with companies in the state. They've had successes with engineering firms and companies with a STEM focus, also the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife. This has opened doors where it may have otherwise been difficult to get into, Dr. Cobb says. He says so far reports back from employers have been glowing in their praise of MSU students. He's looking for opportunities to bring MSU students aboard in permanent capacity, with longer lasting internships. In the program, the company hires the student and then at the end of the internship, they send a bill to Murray State who then reimburses the payment to the student up to a certain amount per summer. There's no risk to the company, all they ask is that in the following or ensuing year the company make a good faith effort to hire another student at the same amount to perpetuate the good relationship.

Anyone interested in the program is invited to contact Dr. Steve Cobb via email. Outstanding juniors and seniors can let their academic advisor know they're interested in the program and should prepare their resume. The resumes will get brought together and distributed to prospective employers.

New Engineering and Physics Building

New construction is underway on the engineering and physics building. Dr. Cobb says it's very exciting to have the third and final phase of the science complex complete. The new building will be the largest in the complex at 72,000 square feet. Its architecture will match existing buildings and it's expected to be complete in Spring 2017.

Construction Career Day

The MSU Institute of Engineering sponsors a Construction Career Day held at the Expo center this Thursday. Through most of the morning and mid-afternoon, 1,500 high school and community college students will be on campus with the support of engineering trades and construction companies. Students can get an idea for employment opportunities available, can operate large bucket trucks, concrete finishers and see the latest technology. Dr. Cobb says this is to let students realize their education is meaningful and can prepare them for satisfying careers in this industry.

Study Abroad

Study abroad experiences in Belize, Argentina and Germany are coming soon. In Belize, studies involve oceanography to tropical rainforest climate. In Argentina, there's an engineering institute focus on occupational safety and health. In Germany, they'll be visiting particular manufacturing companies in Munich and Berlin. Dr. Cobb says they want to provide experiential learning opportunities for students in the context of another society and another language.

Tracy started working for WKMS in 1994 while attending Murray State University. After receiving his Bachelors and Masters degrees from MSU he was hired as Operations/Web/Sports Director in 2000. Tracy hosted All Things Considered from 2004-2012 and has served as host/producer of several music shows including Cafe Jazz, and Jazz Horizons. In 2001, Tracy revived Beyond The Edge, a legacy alternative music program that had been on hiatus for several years. Tracy was named Program Director in 2011 and created the midday music and conversation program Sounds Good in 2012 which he hosts Monday-Thursday. Tracy lives in Murray with his wife, son and daughter.
Matt Markgraf joined the WKMS team as a student in January 2007. He's served in a variety of roles over the years: as News Director March 2016-September 2019 and previously as the New Media & Promotions Coordinator beginning in 2011. Prior to that, he was a graduate and undergraduate assistant. He is currently the host of the international music show Imported on Sunday nights at 10 p.m.
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