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Tairu Zong, SIU student, works at a computer

Shanghai Internship

Internship in China is valuable to student’s career

By Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Like many students, Tairu Zong is spending time at home with his parents this summer. Zong, who will be a junior this fall at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, is potentially also opening new avenues for international internships for the aviation technologies program.

Zong is spending two months through late July working at Rockwell Collins’ facility in Shanghai, China, learning more about avionics. Michael Burgener, department chair, and Rachel Lee, department field representative, said Zong is the first student in the department to participate in an international internship they can recall. Rockwell Collins is one of the largest manufacturers of avionics in the world, and focuses on flight management systems, GPS, autopilots, and software that integrates them together, Burgener said.

The department has a longstanding relationship with the company, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The company participates in an externship program, is involved with the aviation program’s advisory committee and has hired many SIU aviation graduates, Burgener said. Lee said that 10 percent to 20 percent of the program’s 140 students are from outside the United States.

Burgener said Zong, who is from Shanghai, had opportunities for “multiple internships” this summer – Rockwell Collins, Pratt & Whitney and Honeywell. The opportunity for students to participate in internships is important, he said.

“They receive real-world experience while they are in school,” Burgener said. “Especially for a student from China, this will open up a lot of doors where they can finish their degree here and then return to China and work for a large American company.”

Zong, the son of Li Song and Yijun Zong, said he has worked in two departments during his internship, In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) and Avionic 2 (radar) so far. He will also be working in Avionic 1 (sensor) and study the difference between VHF omnidirectional range (VOR) and automatic direction finder, or ADF to finish out his internship.

Zong said he appreciates the opportunity the internship is giving him. The experience “is an opportunity to absorb new knowledge that I might not experience” while in college, he said. Zong anticipates specializing in avionics at SIU Carbondale, and expects he will continue in graduate school after completing his bachelor’s degree.

Zong chose SIU’s aviation technologies program because it is well known, and “I have more advantages than other college students after I graduate from here,” he said.

Lee said that the aviation internships in China are valuable because the nation does not have the aviation infrastructure in place like in the United States.

“It’s good when we get students here from China. There is a great need,” she said. “We are trying to develop more partnerships with China. There is a huge need, and it’s great that we can get SIU in there.”