Students gain valuable experience through industry partnerships

Mechanical engineering senior, Tyler Riley, was recently recognized with the 2016/2017 Valley Industry Partnership for Cooperative Education (VIP) “Shining Star” Award for his work at E&J Gallo Winery in Fresno. Riley helped design and manage construction of a $2.2 million project to meet new FDA requirements for the facility. Gallo was the second of Riley’s two-part internship of which he spent the first six-months at International Paper completing several projects of which he says helped prepare him for Gallo.

“To say that I was part of Gallo Fresno, the second largest winery in the world competing only with Gallo foreverything-digitalLivingston is an honor,” Riley said. “And, to be given such a large project and have so much responsibility in such a short time while having someone have that much faith in you has given me a real sense of ownership and I was able to come back to school with smooth transition.”

Riley’s duties included designing large pneumatic lift covers including calculating, specifying and purchasing the required pneumatic cylinders for multiple applications.

“Tyler worked with our mechanical contractor to get prototype covers built, installed and tested. Each application was then modified as needed before the final design was released for fabrication,” Gallo Plant Engineer, Kurt Eulberg said.

Riley also coordinated the efforts of two mechanical contractors, an electrical contractor, in house electricians and controls technicians. Eulberg said it was a fast paced project with a tight schedule and had to be ready in-time for harvest season.

“Deadlines are now easier to meet than they were before the VIP program. It taught me so much more than just engineering. Personal growth, not just the technical knowledge and engineering growth, but personally and as an individual. I have nobody else to thank but the VIP program and it’s been a great opportunity. I don’t think I’d ever trade it for anything,” Riley said.

Eulberg says the project was such a success that he received praises from Gallo’s Quality Leadership Team and upper management.

“Tyler did an excellent job on this project and worked many long hours to make sure things kept moving forward. His dedication the level of responsibility he assumed was commendable and was very much appreciated by Gallo and myself.” Eulberg said.

Riley is currently taking 21 units and holds a 4.0 GPA. He will be has two job interviews line up over the next few weeks in Michigan at Toyota and GM.

“My Dad’s a 30-year mechanic for GM. That’s been his life and growing up, cars were all around me and it would just be full circle to work in the auto industry.”

Riley follows in the footsteps of more than 15 Shining Stars and even more interns who have participated in the VIP program since its inception in the 1980s. Most recently he follows, former VIP intern at International Paper and Gusmer Enterprises, Kathryn Belmore. She won the 2015/2016 Shining Star Award for her work at Gusmer.

“She worked on projects that I would give a seasoned engineer,” Director of Production Operations for Gusmer, Marco Fabila said. “Kathryn would juggle multiple projects. When projects got behind, she should always come up with solutions and added value throughout the process. She would always jump right in and ask what she could do to help.”
Kathryn completed three projects while at Gusmer Enterprises:


Kathryn Belmore was honored with the 2015/2016 Shining Star Award for her work at Gusmer Enterprises.

Project A: The Pilot Plant is a project leveraging innovative technology with highly automated monitoring systems to produce industry specific product not in existence today. The proprietary process is expected to further secure Gusmer Enterprises’ position as the premier provider of goods and services to the beverage industry.

Project B: New Cold Storage Unit included CAD layouts, submitting plans for approval to the City of Fresno and coordination of various contactors to complete the project. The project provided for an increased storage capacity of 40% while reducing energy costs by half.

Project C: LED Lighting Retrofit Project that reduced operating costs significantly by calculating calculated and submitting a 15.8 month ROI for the project which was subsequently approved and implemented. Scope of work included CAD layouts of the affected warehouse area, securing quotes from multiple lighting contractors, contractor selection and overseeing installation / performance validation.

“Kathryn also worked on numerous minor projects indicative of her ability to manage multiple priorities,” Fabila said. “She is professional, articulate and tactful and her work ethic and resourcefulness provided for a heightened level of competence. This will serve to leverage a more confident and assertive presence when presenting ideas and solutions to any prospective employer.”


Trey Carey worked on a 300 ton conveyor project from start to finish. The project removes finished parts from the product line which allowed the machine to keep moving and less downtime as parts began to stack up.

Belmore says that because of her experience, she’s now ready to begin her career as a mechanical engineer.

“The VIP internship program provided many opportunities for me to succeed. With mentor, staff and management support, I managed capital projects, participated in design work, improved processes, and solved problems – all while applying real world applications.”

Like Riley, Belmore is pleased with her overall experience with her internships and encourages others to consider joining the VIP program.

“The experience gained through VIP internships will prepare you for the work force after you graduate and give you experience on meaningful engineering projects,” she said. “The time you take off of school will go by fast and the work experience will make you more desirable to future employers once you graduate.”

Belmore is currently taking 15-units and plans to graduate in May 2017.

“My internships through VIP prepared me for working as a mechanical engineer in the manufacturing industry with exposure to project management, process improvement, plant maintenance, safety improvement, and design work – and, possibly the automotive industry.”

Lyles College of Engineering’s VIP program has nearly 20 participating member companies who dedicate their staff and time to mentoring Fresno State students from disciplines such as civil, computer electrical, and mechanical Engineering as well as construction management, industrial technology, and computer science. While in the program, students gain skills and knowledge while earning a competitive salary during two, six-month internships.

“Without the VIP program, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to manage full scale projects from start to finish,” mechanical engineering student, Trey Carey said. “At Betts Company, I designed a parts conveyor for a 300 ton press which improved efficiency and production costs. I’m now even more motivated to complete school and start my career. I highly recommend that all students get experience before entering the workforce and the VIP program really is the perfect opportunity.”

Besides hands-on experience, skills and knowledge, students also access to seasoned industry professionals and often times, become full-time employees.

“Interns at JBT have gained valuable design experience while helping us deliver world class machinery to our customers. JBT has been a member of the Lyles College of Engineering’s VIP program for 14 years and we have hired 10 VIP interns upon completion of their degree,” said Alex Sandoval, JBT engineering manager and electrical engineering alumnus of Lyles College of Engineering.