As a high school junior, Ethan Parham hadn’t expected to stay in his hometown for his college experience. Fast forward to the summer of his college senior year and attending UT Martin has paid dividends. Parham completed an internship in August at General Motors’ largest North American facility, the Spring Hill Manufacturing Plant, which proved to be a transformational experience for the future mechanical engineer.
During his internship, Parham’s responsibilities included handling maintenance requests, organizing digital files and implementing a component to increase the cost and time efficiency of welding car frames. However, one of the most valuable experiences for Parham was the opportunity to present in front of company executives.
“We had an introduction presentation and a final presentation in front of the plant managers, plant directors and their staff. Getting to present about us and about our projects in front of them was a valuable experience that most people don’t get to do,” Parham said.
Parham worked with students from schools of different sizes, including The Ohio State University, Purdue University, Georgia Tech, the University of California, Davis, and Duke University.
“There’s so many people from different backgrounds, whether it’s interns or the maintenance crew or even my managers, everybody came from different backgrounds,” Parham said. “It was neat to see what brought them to GM and also to Spring Hill, because a lot of them came from Michigan, Ohio and far off.”
As for his decision to attend college close to home, one of the greatest resources that UT Martin had to offer was the size of the campus, which allowed him to build close relationships with fellow students, faculty and staff members. He’s grateful to several special people who supported his experience.
“Dr. Charley Deal (UT Martin vice chancellor for university advancement), Ms. Brandon Gibson (family friend), and Ms. Ashley Owens (UT Martin lecturer of engineering) have all provided advice and guidance that aided me throughout the interview process and overall internship experience.”
After completing his internship, Parham hopes that his successful participation has introduced UT Martin to new faces and opened the door for other students.