The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) and Chattanooga State Community College will announce a new higher education partnership funded jointly by the Chattanooga Area Chamber and the Small Business Administration (SBA). A press conference about the partnership is scheduled for Wednesday, July 22 at 10:30 a.m. at the Hamilton County Business Development Center, 100 Cherokee Blvd. The public is invited to attend to learn more about the programs offered through the partnership.
The partnership will allow both UTC and Chattanooga State to provide real-world experiences for students while providing needed resources for businesses in the region through a variety of research projects. The partnership agreement includes the creation of a Research Internship Program designed to expose students to practice-oriented experience in entrepreneurship.
UTC and Chattanooga State SBDC will jointly develop economic research internship opportunities to actively involve students in research and outreach services. Research interns will receive credit hours awarded by their respective institutions and will be paid by the internship employer or sponsors.
Planning is underway to create and pilot the Research Internship Program and then expand and offer research internship opportunities to students across the UTC and Chattanooga State campuses. As part of the pilot program, UTC will offer an Opportunity Assessment class in the spring of 2016 to instruct students about how to conduct research.
“The Research Internship Program will provide students with quality, real-world research experiences that will build upon and enhance the knowledge they gain in the classroom,” said Dr. Robert Dooley, Dean of the UTC College of Business. “This program will also benefit new and expanding businesses by providing quality research.”
In addition to the Research Internship Program, the partnership will also provide practical experience hrough a General Internship Program managed by various departments at UTC and the Chattanooga State Division of Business and Information Technologies. Student interns and internships associated with each institution will be chosen by each organization. Although no additional funding is required, students will receive credit hours awarded by their respective institution and paid by their internship employer or by a business sponsor.
“This partnership allows UTC to connect our students with our community. Our students will benefit from access to internships and work experiences that allow them to apply their knowledge and skills in real-world settings,” said Dr. Steve Angle, UTC Chancellor. “The partnerships with Chattanooga State, the Small Business Association, and the companies that create these internships strengthen our relationships within our region and allow us to meet the needs of our business community while providing our students with excellent learning opportunities.”
Dr. Flora Tydings, president of Chattanooga State, adds, “Research has shown that early and active involvement in undergraduate research that provides an opportunity to solve real world problems strengthens students’ analytic thinking abilities and engagement in their studies. This is exactly the kind of partnership that proves our community leaders and educators are committed to student success inside the classroom and after graduation.”
“Chattanooga’s entrepreneurial landscape is built on partnerships and we are excited about the potential for this program to support small businesses in the region,” said Charles Wood, Vice President of Economic Development for the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce.
While it is still in the early stages, the general internship program has already had a positive impact on students who have participated in internships through the TSBDC. Jordan Dukehart, a UTC student working with the SBDC, began gaining real world experience in January by assisting with event planning and other duties.
“The experience and knowledge that I have gained through TSBDC has been so valuable,” said Dukehart. “I feel that the staff have truly welcomed me with open arms and helped me to become work-world ready. Working with the clients and staff have taught me so much more than the basics of everyday tasks, they have helped me to apply many of the things that I have studied throughout my college education. I could not have asked for a better internship experience than this.”
For more information about the partnership, contact Sharyn Moreland, Managing Director, ChSCC SBDC at 423.756-8668 or email SMoreland@tsbdc.org.