Featured News JCU IT internships produce real results

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Tue, 10 May 2016

JCU IT internships produce real results

Improving the performance of a streaming video for a web page, streamlining photo tagging to improve search functions, and creating an Android App to work on Google Glass are some of the projects James Cook University IT students have helped local organisations develop.

The students are gaining ‘real world’ experience during their degrees as part of a unique JCU internship program working with organisations during the November period in Townsville and Cairns.

These have included a number of partners, including Queensland Health, the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) Data Centre, Safety Culture, Mater Hospital, Q-Solutions, among others.

Head of IT, Associate Professor Dr Trina Myers, said the IT internships have been running successfully for four years with some exceptional outcomes.

“The difference between usual internships and this model is that teams are all undergraduate cohorts working on real world projects in situ at the industry host's location,” Dr Myers said.

Students from first to fourth years work in teams in IT industry outside of the study periods to develop future graduate real-time skills and experience.

The internships run for four weeks after the Semester Two exam period leading up to Christmas.

“We believe successful transition to the workforce requires the development of communication methods and exposure to professional team-related skills, which are imperative to the production of quality ICT graduates,” Dr Myers said.

Students work in self-managed teams at the host premises on a specific project for four weeks

The projects are set by the hosts and aim to achieve a basic prototype in the four-week period. They are predominantly ‘wish list’ items the host would like to achieve that may not be their core business.

The teams are deliberately made up of a mixture of first, second and third year students, which means each group has a mixture of enthusiasm and skills.

“Students are able to take part in real world work while studying and to kick-start their CVs,” Dr Myers said.

“Importantly, this initiative opens the students’ minds for the next year of study.”

Norvan Vogt, Chief Information Officer for the Townsville Hospital and Health Service, first initiated the partnership while at the Mater Private Hospital in Townsville during 2013.

"I often hear complaints about the lack of ICT talent in North Queensland, and that is why we developed a partnership with JCU, giving students industry experience,” he said.

“We are building a sustainable knowledge industry in the North that will benefit the whole community.

“Over the three years, I have seen the quality of interns improve as we have improved the work packages designed for students."

Dr Myers said there were benefits on both sides.

“The host gains enthusiastic workers willing to listen and learn, a chance to scope local - and future - talent, completing projects that may have been on the perpetual ‘back-burner’, and free access to developing IT skills.”

Projects have involved a variety of skills, such as web design, programming, networking, app development, among others.


Caroline Kaurila, JCU Media Liaison, (07) 4781 4586 or 0437 028 175.