YSU STEM Expo Brings Employers and Students Together

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Haltec Corp. was Michael Stevens’ first stop at the Spring 2022 STEM Expo Thursday inside Stambaugh Stadium.

Stevens, a junior at Youngstown State University studying information technology with a concentration on databases, knew a recent graduate who works for Haltec. Seeing a peer find local work gives him confidence as he spoke with representatives from Haltec and the rest of the 13 IT employers present at the event.

“I see a lot of my fellow alumni being picked up by all these companies,” Stevens said. “It helps me feel better about myself that I can get a job at these companies.”

Some 550 to 600 YSU students and alumni spent the day visiting with 71 in-person employers and 12 others who attended virtually. Students sought full-time positions, co-op, internships or something for a senior capstone project, said Sherri Hrusovski, YSU director of STEM professional services.

More employers are increasing their involvement with students on campus, she said. They come to campus and talk to students in a classroom setting, “not only about their companies, but their majors,” Hrusovski said. “[They are] trying to figure out new ways to get closer to the students.”

Khaled Alsharif, who is working toward a master’s degree in electrical engineering, has friends who graduated with him last year who are in the workforce.

“YSU is a really good place, especially for mechanical engineering and electrical,” he said. “You get that professor-student interaction, which gives you the confidence to achieve great things in the future.”

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Gallery images include Khaled Alsharif and Chris Allen of Ultium Cells; Simmer Crane’s Paul Miller, Pat DeChellis and Tom Cunningham; and Haltec Corp.’s Adam Shields, Jeff Kovacich, Henry Meckler and Adam Kemp.

There are as many as 40 YSU students working at Simmers Crane and Design Services in Salem out of the 90 employed there.

“We’ve been very successful with the performance of all the YSU graduates,” said Pat DeChellis, operations manager at Simmers Crane. “The way they operate and their work ethic, we’ve been able to grow using their services here.

YSU emphasizes the basic fundamentals of engineering, which is helpful to the diverse work environment of Simmers Crane employees, he says.

“They’re not at a desk every day doing engineering work,” DeChellis said. “They go in the field, climb on cranes, meet our customers, run projects – actually running their own business within our business.

“The more of them that can do that, we are successful in growing our organization,” he continued. “They care about what we do. We come back looking for more every year.”

BRINGING JOB SEEKERS AND EMPLOYERS TOGETHER

Haltec is a Leetonia-based company that designs and manufactures custom tire valves, torque products and inflation systems for commercial trucks, off-the-road markets and adjacent transportation systems.

What draws job seekers are the football inflation systems produced by Haltec for the NFL to prepare 24 to 26 Wilson-made footballs for game days. YSU’s football team has a couple of these systems as well.

“We’re looking for intellectually curious individuals who are willing to take concepts, bring them to life and collaborate very actively with our teams,” said Adam Kemp, Haltec vice president of engineering. “We have a very relaxed and collaborative environment. We’re looking for people to fill in, leverage their skills that they’re learning in school and have fun.”

Expos like these are no longer a one-way conversation with the employer dictating and job prospect listening. These future employees want to know about the work environment and balance with social life, sometimes more so than salary requirements.

“The greatest pitch I could get from a company is what they can offer me in terms of as much knowledge as they can give me,” Stevens said.

Alsharif spoke to Ultium Cells LLC, Lordstown Motors Corp. and other area companies. He earned his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and did a good amount of design work.

“As a young student looking to get in the industry and gain experience, I want to hear about work/life balance and how you can learn and grow in your company – improve your skill set as you go along,” he said.

Haltec pays $20-25 an hour for interns and will work with their schedules, Kemp said. Full-time employees can earn anywhere from $50,000 to $65,000. He and the other three company employees on hand are all YSU graduates.

“I personally hired two [YSU] interns full-time – one last year and I’ve got one who will be graduating in May,” Kemp said. “It’s treated me well and provided me with a great career.

“I find the engineering program and STEM in general produce quality graduates. A lot of these individuals are looking to stay and I’d like to give them the opportunity to do that versus trying to attract people from other places.”

Simmers Crane pays engineers from the low to high $20 an hour, working varied hours.

“Customers want things and they want it now,” DeChellis said. “We have to deliver in time with good, quality products.”

Alsharif said if the opportunity presents itself he’ll find a job elsewhere, but he felt good talking to Ultium Cells and Simmers Crane.

“They’re both really good companies,” he said. “If you can stay local, why not? It’ll help your community, too.”

Pictured at top: YSU student Michael Stevens hands his resume to Haltec Corp.’s Jeff Kovacich.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.