Bringing the Real World to the Engineering Classroom
This past summer, every engineering student who wanted an internship got one; in fact, some employers had to be turned away! This was thanks, in large part, to Sheri Campeau, assistant professor of engineering, who runs Bethel’s unique 3/2 engineering program. She knows firsthand what a difference industry experience can make for a young engineer.
“Internships give students a better idea of what they want to do,” she says. “They make classes come alive. And they look good on a résumé!”
She should know. As part of her undergraduate work for GMI Engineering & Management Institute (now Kettering University), she completed a co-op with General Motors and secured a job there well before graduation, laying the foundation for her 20-year career with the company. There, she worked in manufacturing engineering, training and as a vehicle systems engineer, among other roles.
She transitioned to teaching at the collegiate level to provide better work-life balance for her family, which includes her husband, Mike, and four boys ranging in age from 8 to 16.
Now in her fifth year at Bethel, she uses her work experience to illustrate classroom concepts.
“In the hard-core engineering courses, I can tie it to real life. [I can say], here’s how I used this knowledge in a real situation.”
Campeau also keeps students engaged through experiments. For example, in the Introduction to Engineering course, the class works in groups to analyze and improve remote control cars (pictured).
“They have to find a way to make it better,” Campeau says. “They have to analyze, problem-solve, using [materials] in the package, work in teams … and then write a report. It’s all about the problem-solving process.”
Campeau is passionate about advancing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) at the K-12 level as well. She sits on the advisory board and teaches the Jr. STEM academy for Penn-Harris-Madison (PHM) School Corporation. She also advocates for women in STEM careers, speaking at conferences like “Expand Your Horizons,” recently held at University of
This involvement also allows her to make connections in the community that turn into opportunities for students, like this summer’s interns who served at AM General, ASA, Bosch, Boston Scientific, Cooke Nuclear Plant, DCS (Detroit), DLZ, Elkhart Brass, Jamko, Plasan (Grand Rapids) and Southwire.
“I am adamant about pushing our internship opportunities,” she says. After all, it was an internship that launched her career, and directed her on the path that led to Bethel.
This year, 47 students are enrolled in Bethel’s engineering program.