MT. VERNON — Two additional Mt. Vernon Township High School students will now participate in a special internship program at National Railway, thanks to an ongoing partnership between the company, MVTHS and the City of Mt. Vernon.
The cooperative placement program, run by the Mt. Vernon Area Vocational Center, was launched last summer. MVTHS students James Campise and Jacob Williamson were the first to take part.
With the program, the two students worked full-time at National Railway during the summer, then switched to part-time when school began. The experience gave them a taste of what it’s really like to work in an engineering position.
“This is something you can’t learn in the classroom,” said Williamson, now an MVTHS senior. “Hands-on work experience is going to set us
apart in the future. It’s definitely an experience you can’t find in any school around.”
Now, MVTHS juniors Abigail Winkler and Graham Henken are poised to join the program, starting this summer.
All four students — plus several National Railway, MVTHS and city officials — gathered at the local National Railway fabricating facility Tuesday for a special event to mark the continued growth of the internship program.
Robert Knutson, director of the Mt. Vernon AVC, said the ultimate goal of the program is to not only give students valuable real-world experience, but to then draw those students back to Mt. Vernon after college to work for local companies.
“We are doing something that isn’t happening in many places,” Knutson said. “It’s a model, not just in the State of Illinois, but nationally.”
While working at National Railway, Williamson has been involved in redesigning parts for the company’s next locomotives. Campise has also worked in mechanical engineering, using software to aid in the design process.
“I think it’s enlightening,” Campise said. “There’s only so much you can learn in class. This work experience has definitely benefitted us.”