Northern Michigan University’s partnership with Intel has expanded to include student internships at the corporation’s Oregon facility and on-campus testing of new products.

            It began as a simple vendor relationship. NMU relied on Intel products to power its notebook computers when administrators launched a universal technology program in 2000. NMU has since used the company’s Centrino® platform to create an infrastructure that allows untethered Internet connectivity from anywhere on campus. With 9,000 notebook computers in circulation, NMU can claim one of the largest technology programs in the world at a public institution. It is the ideal environment for Intel to conduct on-site research.

            “Since every laptop has an Intel wireless card in it, it’s important for us to have a presence at NMU and track issues that might arise only in this educational vertical,” said Larry Averitt, a network validation engineer with Intel’s mobility group. “You can try to emulate situations with software in a lab and generate pseudo reports, but it’s important to get actual results with real-world usage. NMU provides a unique RF [Radio Frequency] environment for testing because of its network density and the sheer number of students accessing wireless at one time in the lecture halls, the Starbucks lounge or the Superior Dome.

            “Because the university wants to implement the latest technology and make it available to NMU students, it worked closely with Intel to test the latest Wi-Fi technology on a select population before rolling it out to everyone on campus."

            Averitt attended the annual fall computer distribution in the Superior Dome to help debug wireless issues unique to the university. He passed the torch to NMU seniors Cory Perry and Joe Manier for the remainder of the academic year. They were the first NMU participants in the Intel Wireless Internship Program.

            “I worked on some automation programming for Windows and learned various networking protocols and debugging techniques,” said Perry. “I learned a lot about how a corporation works and what programming in the real world is like with large and small teams. It was perfect for the dream career I have in mind as a 3D computer simulation engine designer. I also worked alongside some of the most knowledgeable people in computer networking and I must say a little rubbed off on me.”

            The students were paid by Intel for their full-time summer training so they could return to campus and serve as company contacts for tests of new wireless cards and drivers.

            “We’re very excited about this partnership because it provides an opportunity for student interns to participate in cutting-edge research and development,” said NMU President Les Wong. “People are recognizing that NMU has a lot of talent and they want to participate in our initiatives. This also reflects what I think is a sign of the future. Universities have always been the source of ideas. In today’s world, those ideas are worth money. Companies are recognizing they’ve got to partner with universities quickly and we’re very proud that Intel selected Northern.”

            The NMU-Intel partnership will facilitate two student internships each summer.

Prepared By
Kristi Evans
News Director