WSU engineering student becomes ‘pro’ through summer internship


A Wichita State University student has wielded her love of nature into an internship with one of the nation’s leading outdoors companies.

Maria Jimenez — a junior studying industrial engineering in Wichita State’s Industrial, Systems and Manufacturing Engineering Department — spent her summer interning with White River Marine Group, a co-op of Bass Pro Shop. For her, the chance to work for the company was an extension of not only her skills, but also her love of all things outdoors.

“Growing up, my family has always had such a strong love for the outdoors; and eventually I, too, adopted that same kind of love and passion,” she said. “It has always been on my bucket list to work with a company that has the type of outdoor leisurely activities I enjoy.”

Maria heard about the internship after searching around for internships during fall 2020. She finally landed on the Bass Pro internship in November 2020 when she saw it advertised on the engineering college newsletter.

“I saw it as a great opportunity to get some insight into a company I’ve always been interested in,” Maria said. “I grew up in southeast Kansas, so I love fishing and hiking, and the White River Marine Group involves the boating side of things.”

She immediately applied. Once hired, Maria began working for the co-op in January.

While at the co-op, Maria worked as part of the new-product development team as a 3D computer aided design (CAD) technician. This involved reverse engineering and 3D scanning on boats and parts already in production. She also scanned older boats and parts and created 3D models from the scan data for the company to make changes to the new products it produces.

“The scans included every feature of the boat from engineering the boat deck all the way down to the upholstery,” Maria said. “I did a seat cushion, a rod organizer for fishing poles and handles for kayaks.”

Real-life work experience

The hands-on approach of the internship provided Maria a chance to expand upon the knowledge base she has acquired while a student at Wichita State.

Coby Cady, Maria’s co-worker at the co-op, assigned Maria two projects between January and July. Like Maria, he saw great value in involving interns in programs at companies like the White River Marine Group co-op.

“It’s important to involve interns in programs like this for two reasons: First, internships give the students some real-world work experience and a glimpse of the day-to-day activities in the environment they could potentially be working in,” said Cady. “I believe that the experience gained during an internship can help a student make an informed decision about their chosen career path. Secondly, internships are a benefit to the sponsoring company because they showcase the talent that will soon be entering the workforce.”

Maria also enjoyed that her internship allowed her to be present for the full engineering of her plans.

“I got to see these plans through all the way down the line whereas in my course work it’s more just a simulation type of thing or a theoretical project,” Maria sad. “Instead of working with CAD models, I actually got to produce the CAD model, produce the design and then see it being made.”

Maria also appreciated her time with her team of industrial designers at the co-op.

“My favorite part was being able to work alongside a great team of engineers,” Maria said. “The Bass Pro new product development team really does a good job of making you feel like you’re a part of a team as an intern.”

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