Entertaining a new co-op opportunity

Feb 10, 2006

A new Kettering co-op assignment with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra shows how engineering and business students can positively impact the entertainment industry.

He was born into a home filled with music. His parents attended Gardner-Webb University in the sleepy town of Boiling Springs, N.C., where both earned degrees in music. But eventually they found their ways into different careers and kept music as the center of their creative lives.

Growing up in this environment, Kettering sophomore William Quinn (Chris) realized early in life that he, too, had a gift for music and honed his talent by playing the tuba and through a four-year stint in the Gastonia, N.C., All County Band, comprised of the town's best young musicians. But instead of pursuing a degree in this highly competitive field, he chose Business Management at Kettering University.

Yet by hook or crook, Quinn has come back to music and in a way he'd never considered before. He recently took a cooperative education assignment at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO), which represents a new, untapped market for Kettering's Cooperative Education program.

For some people, this relationship seems a little odd. After all, what does an applied science, engineering, mathematics and management institution have to do with music, and more specifically, with one of the top orchestras in the nation?

"Everything," said Dr. David Strubler, associate vice president of Kettering's Graduate Studies and Corporate Connections Office. "This is really a great opportunity for one of our students to bring his skills and education to an organization that can greatly benefit by his efforts," he added. Strubler's wife, Ann, is a first violinist for the DSO. "Today, organizations cannot run successfully unless they have a strong IT infrastructure in place, even organizations like a symphony, so Chris will have a good chance to help the DSO use IT resources to their fullest extent," Strubler said.

Tyanna Lange, business manager for the Kettering's Business Dept. and an academic adviser, initially directed Quinn to Strubler after discussing new co-op opportunities with the sophomore. When she discovered that Quinn had a strong affinity and background in music and majored in Management with an emphasis in Information Systems, the fit was obvious.

Strubler is pleased by Lange's initiative. "This opens many new doors for Kettering to show how our students can impact a variety of diverse fields," he said, adding that the entertainment field "requires technical expertise more than ever, and we feel Chris could make a significant contribution to the DSO."

Quinn, who is currently attending classes at Kettering's Flint campus, will begin his co-op assignment at the end of the term in late March. Some of his duties will include helping the current DSO's Information Technology Director Richard Jacques with daily maintenance of the DSO computer network, provide desktop support to the staff and teach new staff on how to access the network. In addition, this assignment bridges Quinn's love of music with a field of study he enjoys. As a student at Highland School of Technology-a magnet-designated school in Gastonia-he studied networking and participated in an IT-related internship. When it came time to decide on which college to attend, he debated between the Rochester Institute of Technology, Johnson & Wales and Kettering.

"What made the decision easy was Kettering's co-op program," he said, referring to the institution's more than 80 years of cooperative education history. His first co-op assignment was with Dick Huvaere Richmond Chrysler Dodge in Richmond, Mich. "I really enjoyed the management experience I gained with the dealership," Quinn said, adding that this experience plus his new assignment "will be extremely important to my career in the IT field."

Donna F. Saul, vice president of Facility Operations at the DSO, believes this opportunity will help Quinn "not only hone his IT skills, but also help him interface and bring his knowledge to staff members in one-on-one discussions as he helps the organization with its technology needs." She also said that the DSO hopes to continue utilizing the services of a Kettering co-op student in the years ahead.

To that end, Kettering expects to use federal work-study funds to pay most of Quinn's salary. The DSO will also contribute an additional portion to his pay. But as Strubler noted, Kettering and the DSO require a more consistent stream of funding for this and future efforts, since work-study funds have a limited amount of time for which they are usable.

This is a win-win situation for the DSO and Kettering, and is further strengthened by a marketing and advertising push in Southeast Michigan that the University recently established. Kettering recently purchased space for nine full-page ads in DSO's magazine/program "Performance," read by 5,000-8,000 patrons a week. These ads will run during the course of the 2006-2007 season.

"This strategic alliance with such a well-known international orchestra will aid Kettering in expanding its reach," Strubler observed. "Chris Quinn's new co-op at the DSO is another example of how University departments-in this case Graduate Studies and Enrollment Management-are working together in concert to create cooperative education opportunities in new industries, such as the entertainment sector," he added.

Click on this link for more about cooperative education at Kettering

Written by Gary J. Erwin
(810) 762-9538