Imagine putting on your college applications as a high school senior that your name is on a patent.
That’s the reality for interns at nth solutions. The product development, manufacturing and business incubation company, has been running its internship program for about 10 years, but hopes to expand even further now that it’s based at the nth innovation center in Chester County’s Coatesville.
Susan Springsteen, cofounder of nth solutions LLC and president of H2O Connected, said the benefit of having the interns at the new center is that they get to see products develop from an idea on a piece of paper all the way to commercialization. That includes the different steps of developing a product, testing, market research, protecting it with intellectual property, optimizing it for a manufacturer, and manufacturing and distributing it to the marketplace.
“They get that whole whole view,” she told Technical.ly. “So it’s really a unique process in that interns work alongside the professionals to actually develop products and launch them into the marketplace.”
The program usually has 10 to 15 interns per year working on an engineering and STEM track or a marketing track. Generally, the students start in their sophomore or junior year of high school, but Springsteen said she’d like to eventually have interns from junior high all the way through college. The internship is paid, and interns work two days a week after school in 10th and 11th grade, then three days per week in 12th grade.
“We now are focusing on the Coatesville area for our additional interns,” she said. “We’ll still look at other schools but we’re really interested in being able to help the Coatesville school district supplement their STEM opportunities for their students. We’ve had Coatesville students before and it’s worked out extremely well.”
Springsteen said it took some time for the company to settle into the new innovation center, which officially opened last month, but now that they’re more settled, she said they’re hoping to double the size of the internship program.
“This facility gives us an opportunity to do that, but we had to lay the framework for that,” she said. “Having manufacturing right next door, we’re adding to our professional staff. The other thing is that we brought in some of the companies that were incubated by nth solutions are now under the same roof. So as those companies mature, there’s more opportunity for them to see additional product development.”
The interns even have their own spaces in the new center, both in the engineering lab and the marketing area. Springsteen calls these spaces Intern Alley.
Joe Cottingham started as an nth solutions intern in 2016 when he was a sophomore in high school. He is currently working for one of the nth Solution’s incubated companies, H2O Connected, a toilet monitoring system primarily for hospitality facilities that works out of the new innovation space.
During his time in college, he said, having a perspective of the entire process of a product from start to finish helped him get more out of his classes.
“Because of the skills I built in the internship,” he said, “I understand all the different aspects of how we are building out the product even though I might not have a direct hand on them.”
Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. -30-