Celebrating Next Generation Innovators and Inclusive Prosperity
The 2023 PIN Summer Internship Closing Ceremony
In a showcase of collaboration, innovation and commitment to inclusive prosperity, the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation (PIN) held its 2023 Summer Internship Closing Ceremony on August 4th at Georgia Tech’s Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design. The event celebrated the culmination of an intensive 12-week internship program that brought together a diverse cohort of 63 interns from 25 universities across the nation to work on 35 projects across 15 communities. The number of interns and the range of geographic diversity is a big feat in and of itself. Only four years ago, PIN’s Student Engagement program launched with five interns impacting 4 communities. Our most recent cohort is the largest, most competitive and most diverse group of student interns and project host sites the Partnership has hosted to date.
The rapid growth of the participation in PIN’s Student Engagement program may be accredited to the removal of institutional barriers that are present in many other internship programs. Using an inclusive lens, the PIN Summer Internship:
- Focuses on creating intentional collaborations and next-level experiential learning to help next generation innovators to understand how to overcome or close the gap complex challenges through public innovation and civic technologies using projects across the state of Georgia and the Southeast region,
- Targets higher education students from any year or degree type and from any higher education institution,
- Uses a paired model to connect students from different geographies, institutions and majors, engaging interns in weekly programming and mentoring throughout the summer, and
- Provides paid internships, which play a pivotal role in fostering equity within the professional landscape by creating an inclusive environment where access to valuable learning experiences is not limited by socioeconomic status.
The significant growth of our Student Engagement program in 2023, in turn, brought even more substantial change to every corner of Georgia and beyond in a matter of 3 months. Engaging in 35 innovative projects, the 2023 interns researched or implemented public innovation and civic technology projects across Georgia and in Charlotte, NC, and Washington, DC. Our 2023 cohort showcased their impact during the closing ceremony with a poster showcase, which featured their projects ranging from community resilience, digital equity, economic mobility, sustainable living and much more. A comprehensive list of these projects can be viewed here.
Through the course of their intern journey, many efforts of our interns were highlighted in local news agencies, including:
- Developing Public Art in the Augusta Arts Project
- Turning the Okefenokee Swamp into a World Heritage Site
- A Virtual Reality Education Program Developed in Brunswick, Georgia
The efforts put forward by interns and project leaders provided substantial innovative change to their communities, and the knowledge gained through these experiences will not end with the conclusion of their internship sessions. Yasemin Inceoglu, Athens-Clarke County Neighborhood Climate Resilience Project intern, stated “though our project is based in Athens, Georgia, a long-term goal for me is to apply what I have learned here in terms of disaster preparedness, prevention and climate resilience in my home country of Turkey.”
The societal importance of student engagement was discussed further during the ceremony with guest speakers and panelists. G. P. “Bud” Peterson, President Emeritus and Regents Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Provost Steven W. McLaughlin, both from Georgia Tech, attended as speakers at the event. Provost McLaughlin stated that internship experience “is about problem solving but, more importantly, it’s about problem finding. To make sure that you’re working on the right problems […] that really make the world a better place, make the world a more welcoming place, a more inclusive place, a place where everyone can thrive.”
Panelists Georgia House Representative Saira Draper, Ashani O’Mard with the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, Inc., Commissioner Greg Dozier of the Technical College System of Georgia, and Mark Bennett from Gulfstream Aerospace furthered the discussion on the importance of intern civic engagement, providing insightful advice to the interns taking the next steps in their careers.
Overall, this celebration highlighted the importance of innovation, opportunity and shared economic prosperity in the context of the summer internship program. We are forever grateful for the efforts put forward by our student interns and look forward to welcoming our next cohort of change-makers.