Learning by Doing: Internship on Franklin College science center project provides lessons from the field

With its science program, Franklin College has developed a curriculum based on “learning science by doing science.” One of its students had the opportunity to learn by doing as a construction intern on the newly dedicated Franklin College science center.

The college participates in a “3+2” program with the Purdue University School of Engineering and Technology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. The program allows students to earn a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from Franklin College and a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University in one of three engineering fields, typically during a five-year period. The math degree requires an internship, an opportunity that aligned well with Hagerman’s commitment to facilitate a student enrichment program on the science center project through The Hagerman Institute of Learning.

Colton Polter is participating in the “3+2” program and took advantage of the Hagerman internship opportunity.

“I hadn’t experienced construction, other than doing renovations at home,” Colton said. “I learned how to read the drawings, understand the specifications, and determine what had to be done to comply with OSHA regulations. Once you get into it, you realize how much detail is involved, and how important those details are. The biggest thing I learned is how long lead times can be on materials, so it’s important to account for that.”

With his interest in mechanical engineering, Colton said the internship also helped him grasp how his studies applied to construction. “There are so many ways you can use knowledge in engineering and math,” he said. “The internship helped me understand how it applies in the field.”

Photos by Emily Ketterer, The Franklin

Colton also enjoyed seeing the building progress.

“When I started, they were pouring concrete, and when I finished, they were painting and hanging whiteboards,” Colton said. “I was in charge of the restrooms—checking the accuracy of blueprints and ordering parts and materials. When the spaces were complete, it was great to know I had a role in making sure everything was correct.”

While Colton hasn’t taken a class in the new science building, he spends a lot of time there.

“A lot of students from the math department like to study together, and once we stepped into the science center, we decided it was the place we were going to spend time. It’s a great environment,” Colton said. “Everyone I’ve talked to really likes the science center.”

Colton’s internship working on the building sparked an interest he’s continuing this summer. He’s back at The Hagerman Group, working as an intern in the estimating department.

“It’s good to be back working at The Hagerman Group in a different way,” Colton said. “Everyone I’m working with is helping me understand how to dig in deeper and build upon what I learned during my internship at the science center.”

Related: Project Feature: Breaking new ground at the Franklin College science center

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