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UPR-Mayaguez Becomes A Talent Bank For DaimlerChrysler

Since 1996, six local engineering students have been recruited by the U.S.-German automaker; seven more have participated in summer internships


December 12, 2002
Copyright © 2002 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

If you drive a Chrysler vehicle, chances are that engineers from University of Puerto Rico (UPR)-Mayaguez were directly involved in the design of the vehicle and of many of its components.

Since 1996, UPR-Mayaguez students have been participating in three of the U.S.-German automaker’s vehicle engineering recruiting & training programs.

The man leading the effort to recruit engineering students from UPR-Mayaguez is Nestor Cerame, international program manager for PT Cruiser-DaimlerChrysler. Cerame is a 25-year Chrysler Group employee at the company’s Technology Center near Detroit and a UPR-Mayaguez graduate.

"The company has always had a strong commitment to work-force diversity," Cerame told CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. "To foster the hiring of more Hispanics, the company began recruiting UPR-Mayaguez students."

Through Cerame’s efforts, UPR-Mayaguez was included in 1996 among the select list of 19 engineering universities nationwide from which DaimlerChrysler annually recruits the best students to participate in any of its three engineering training programs. These are the Chrysler Institute of Engineering (CIE) training program, the Engineering Graduate Trainee (EGT) program, and the summer internship.

Since 1996, DaimlerChrysler has recruited and hired six UPR-Mayaguez undergraduates for the CIE program. They are Tomas Diaz (1997), Ivan Roman (1998), Antonio Vidal (1999), Jacob Bunyan (2000), Francisco Rodriguez (2000), and Jorge Collazo (2001).

"The CIE program for vehicle engineering is a two-year training program where the new hire goes through a series of four-month assignments in six areas while he or she pursues a master’s degree in engineering," explained Cerame.

The work areas are Body or Chassis Engineering, Powertrain Engineering, Scientific Labs / Proving Grounds or Vehicle Development, Plant Assignment, and two optional work assignments.

The CIE program covers tuition and fees, but no textbooks. "The student is given a day per week for study time [eight hours], but gets a full week’s salary [40 hours]," said Cerame. "Additionally, a mentor at the executive level is assigned to supervise and counsel the student through the program."

Students also have a networking system where they can get to know each other and share their experiences.

The EGT program is similar to the CIE program, except candidates must have already obtained a master’s degree in engineering before joining the company.

The summer internship program is open to those students who haven’t yet completed a bachelor’s degree. It has become a tremendous opportunity to develop students’ skills as engineers and to acquire practice in a real work environment.

UPR-Mayaguez students Elsie Alvarado, Daniel Caratini, Jorge Collazo, Anibal Karban, Janisse Quiñones, Salvador Toledo, and Nellie Torres have participated in DaimlerChrysler’s summer internship program.

Since the CIE program is relatively small and highly selective, the company recruits only one or two students from each participating university every year.

"That means UPR-Mayaguez students are in a select group, among the nation’s best," said Cerame. "Needless to say, our students have done very well."

In October, Cerame and other CIE program participants visited UPR-Mayaguez to recruit students interested in any of the company’s programs. According to Cerame, from that visit, two students were sent to Detroit for interviews, with one of them being hired.

"Some engineering students from Puerto Rico who have participated in the recruiting program now work at the company developing new vehicle ideas," said Cerame. "They have demonstrated an outstanding knowledge of the engineering field, and we are certain they have great potential and the quality we want to project in our company."

Following DaimlerChrysler’s success with UPR-Mayaguez students, General Motors Corp. has established a similar recruiting effort at the university.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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