LHP training program prepares college graduates for engineering careers

July 25, 2012  by  

Participants get up to speed on embedded control applications in one-fifth the time

Fifteen recent college graduates are better prepared to begin their engineering careers after spending six intense weeks in Columbus, Indiana, at LHP Software’s LHP|U training program.

LHP Software is a contract engineering services firm specializing in automotive and other embedded control applications. It launched LHP|U last summer, and the current class, the program’s third, recently completed the course.

Most of those who attended LHP|U are full-time salaried employees of LHP Software, selected from a pool of more than 500 applicants (the rest are interns).

All have strong academic backgrounds from schools such as Michigan Tech, the University of Pennsylvania, Bradley University, Purdue, and the University of Indiana. Most hold Bachelor of Science degrees but some also have advanced degrees. The most recent class includes mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, and computer science majors – disciplines that must be able to communicate effectively in developing increasingly complex applications.

Graduates of LHP|U will be assigned to work at customer sites, or to work on customer projects at LHP facilities in Columbus, Detroit, or Chicago. According to one customer’s estimate, an LHP|U  graduate on his or her first engineering assignment requires about one-fifth the ramp-up time of a new employee hired right out of college.

That’s because college life is dramatically different from the “real world,” says Zach McClellan, a former Major League pitcher (Colorado Rockies) who heads up LHP|U. College students learn a lot of theory, and when questions arise they can usually turn to a professor for help, but that’s not always the case with an engineering project that has to be completed within a tight time frame. Most college graduates entering the workforce must learn to expect the unexpected.

Participants were tasked to apply model-based design technology to develop a diesel engine throttle control application. They had to sort through and correctly label dozens of wires, and at one point figure out why the engine didn’t work (McClellan had unplugged a module).

Team building was a priority during the six-week program and participants had to learn “business etiquette” skills when communicating with each other and with managers. Each participant took a turn as a project leader. The control application worked correctly during presentations the participants made to mark completion of the program. Each participant spoke enthusiastically about the experience.

The next class begins in September.

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