When it comes to manufacturing, engineers play a key role – from conception and implementation to maintenance and innovation. Because of the importance of engineers in the entire operations of a plant, companies want engineers who can be both project managers and technical experts, which is exactly what the College of Charleston offers.
One firm particularly excited about how the College is marrying engineering skills with a liberal arts education is REI Automation, Inc., a Columbia, South Carolina, company that is part of a global network of factory automation companies. REI specializes in designing and building custom industrial equipment, including assembly lines, robotic cells and special-purpose machines.
“In South Carolina, all the state higher education institutions have a different slant when it comes to engineering,” says Grant Phillips, president & CEO of REI Automation, Inc. “The CofC angle of a liberal arts degree combined with a technical background offers a beautiful program to match what REI does. We really value the human interaction skills the CofC engineering graduates acquire.
“We need engineers who can solve difficult problems, but can communicate the details to customers and colleagues,” he adds. “One of our core values is collaboration, which equals success in a technical field. We need different types of engineers to work together, which is why we are excited about the CofC engineering degrees.”
REI recently formed the REI Automation Endowed Engineering Scholarship with a focus on systems engineering students at CofC. Investing in higher education in the state is part of the long-term commitment REI and its German parent company, HAHN Group, are making in South Carolina. The College first began offering a systems engineering degree in 2020, followed by electrical engineering in 2021. Most recently, CofC added software engineering in the fall of 2022.
The first scholarship will be awarded in the 2023-24 academic year. In addition, REI plans to create internship and co-op opportunities for CofC engineering students. The initial internship opportunity will begin in the summer of 2023.
“A partnership like this with REI is a such a great fit for the College of Charleston,” says Sebastian van Delden, dean of the School of Sciences, Mathematics, and Engineering. “The College of Charleston recruits numerous students from the Midlands and the Upstate who want to return home for summer internships and full-time jobs when they graduate. Even though this partnership is just getting started, I’ve already had the privilege of connecting engineering students with REI for the summer 2023 internships.”
“The CofC engineering program is an excellent fit for the growth of advanced manufacturing in South Carolina, and of course for REI,” adds Phillips, who looks forward to recruiting engineering students in the future.