MHTA — The UAV drone industry is booming and Minnesota is home to an exciting young startup in this space. Sentera, an early-stage drone solutions company composed of UAV and image experts, is headquartered in Richfield at an office bustling with energy. They serve three main industries: precision agriculture, infrastructure inspection (primarily for bridges and mobile phone towers) and public safety. With new products in development and no shortage of exciting work for the team of 22, Sentera hired two SciTechsperience interns this summer. Cody Lund (above right) and Matt Skelton (above left) are students at the University of Minnesota where they’re studying computer science and aerospace/mechanics, respectively.
Benefits go both ways
Todd Colten, Chief Aerospace Engineer at Sentera, had a series of summer internships when he was in school studying aerospace engineering and recognized the value of his experiences. “I felt that they were hugely valuable for me, so in my career I’ve always tried to bring on a summer intern, or two, or three…or sometimes twelve,” he says. Beyond understanding the value internships brings to students, Todd also sees internships as a great way to infuse energy and talent into a company. After quickly receiving more than a dozen resumes from the SciTechsperience pool, Todd interviewed several candidates and ultimately offered positions to Cody and Matt.
Ready for take off
Cody and Matt have both had on-campus jobs in the past, but Sentera has provided their first true internship experience. Todd describes Matt as a “jack of all trades,” a job description that will sound familiar to many startup employees. His projects have included building prototypes, designing packaging to ship drone parts, testing equipment, and assisting with flight tests. Cody is writing code for a dashboard designed to help drone operators navigate controls on their laptop. A highlight of his internship was going out into the field with a drone to test the dashboard. Many of Matt’s most memorable moments also occurred during flight tests. “It’s satisfying to see all the things I’ve been working on come together,” he says.
Todd makes it clear that drones are not only expensive toys for recreational use. Sentera is working hard to create products for serious commercial applications but is also having a blast along the way. “There’s so much passion among all of our employees,” says Sarah Ritzen, Manager of Marketing and Communications. “It’s infectious and it makes it exciting to come to work.” Both Cody and Matt echoed this sentiment. Before even accepting his position, Matt remembers sensing the passion and energy from the employees he interacted with during his application process.
Visit Sentera’s website to learn more about their products and to read about their latest accomplishments. The new SciTechsperience program year kicks off on September 1st and 250 matching grants will be available. Visit SciTechMN.org to get in on the action!