INvestEd investment broadens Interns for Indiana program to serve Purdue students in Indianapolis

Purdue University College of Engineering’s Interns for Indiana (IFI) program is getting a boost in its first year of offering degrees in Indianapolis.
Three people wearing Interns for Indiana T-shirts
Purdue Engineering alumnus Jay Shah (right) and Neureva Inc. have hosted nine students as part of the Interns for Indiana program, including Purdue biomedical engineering major Shaiv Mehra (left). Mehra received a bachelor's in BME in May and currently is pursuing a master's at Purdue. Samuel Simonian also is pictured. 

Purdue University College of Engineering’s Interns for Indiana (IFI) program is getting a boost in its first year of offering degrees in Indianapolis.

With a $1.5 million gift from INvestEd, Indiana’s only state-based nonprofit financial aid advising and student loan organization, IFI will expand to Purdue University in Indianapolis and provide students at the new extension an opportunity to experience a paid internship during the course of their studies in Indianapolis.

The investment will allow Purdue to support enhanced summer internship opportunities and career fairs to connect students with employers in Indiana businesses.

“This type of investment supports INvestEd’s core mission of providing students the tools they need to put education beyond high school within reach and successfully connect to a career,” said Joe Wood, INvestEd president and CEO. “We believe Purdue’s Interns for Indiana program will help students persist and complete their postsecondary education while at the same time give them the hands-on experience with Indiana-based companies growing the number of graduates who live and work in Indiana upon graduation. This work further illustrates the value of postsecondary education for students and families in our state.”

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IFI, launched in 2004 in West Lafayette, supports the talent search process with Indiana high-tech startup companies and offers cost-share benefits for intern stipends. High-performing Purdue undergraduates have a one-of-a-kind experience as they are immersed in every aspect of the business, impact technology and are exposed to the ecosystem of startups in a challenging, fast-paced entrepreneurial environment. Students spend 40 hours a week for a minimum of 10 weeks in a company, working with small teams and interacting with founders and top leaders.

The program attracts strong interest from engineering students. Since 2021, 1,789 applications have been submitted for IFI, and 73 interns have been placed in 10 industry sectors.

Current IFI partners include: 34 lives; Amplified Sciences, Continuity Pharma; Glassboard; Heliponix, LLC; Keybyte; LyoWave; Neurava; NutraMaize; Ourobio; WaveLogix; and XTern. Several companies are connected to Purdue faculty. Past companies involved with IFI include Adipo Therapeutics; Digital ai; Moonshine Leather Company; The Milk Bank; Thrive Wellness; and VizyPay.

“Internships are key to developing workforce-ready graduates, and this pledge from INvestEd is a critical step forward to meet that goal,” said Dan Hasler, chief operating officer for Purdue University in Indianapolis. “Behind collaborations like this, our new urban campus in Indianapolis will establish a tremendous talent pipeline that feeds directly into central Indiana.”

The 16 Tech Innovation District in downtown Indianapolis is dedicated to innovation and economic opportunity with membership-based makerspace that invites creativity and collaboration. It’s home to IFI partners Neurava, Ourobio and XTern.

Purdue students in Indianapolis who are in good academic standing in the inaugural 2024 class are guaranteed paid internships, and Purdue seeks to grow partnerships at 16 Tech and more broadly in Indiana’s capital city, said Patrick Francis, the assistant director for industry engagement in Purdue’s Office of Professional Practice, which runs the IFI program.

Jay Shah appreciates that emphasis. He’s the CEO and co-founder of Neurava Inc., a medical device company headquartered in Indianapolis. Shah and Vivek Ganesh started the company when they were PhD students in electrical and computer engineering in West Lafayette.

In 2020, Neurava won second place (and $15,000) at the Burton D. Morgan Business Model Competition for a detection device to give control back to patients with uncontrolled epilepsy with a warning of a potential sudden unexpected death, a risk in epilepsy. Earlier this year, the company announced that it oversubscribed its Series Seed round, raising $2.26 million.

The company has hosted eight interns through IFI in the last three summers and has another this summer.

“IFI provides us with a great candidate pool of summer interns. We have had some amazing interns work for us that we found through IFI. The financial component also significantly helps us as an early-stage startup,” Shah said.

But his company isn’t the only beneficiary of the partnership.

“By hiring Purdue interns, we are hiring world-class engineers that have a solid technical foundation with a desire apply these skills to real-world problems,” Shah said. “We have found our Purdue interns to be motivated, driven, intelligent and critical thinkers — all attributes needed in a startup.”

Sarah Sammon could be the next engineering student to add a success story on the already long list of IFI connections.

Sammon, who will be a senior in biomedical engineering in West Lafayette in the fall, heard about IFI through the 34 Lives job posting on Purdue’s Center for Career Opportunities website. She’d never heard of IFI nor 34 Lives before, but the more she read, the more interested she became.

The company, founded in 2021, is a Public Benefit Corporation headquartered in the Purdue Research Park in West Lafayette that seeks to save lives by reducing the number of donated kidneys that go unused each year.

After landing the internship, Sammon immediately felt the impact she could have while working at a startup.

“I feel like the drive and passion everyone has here is very apparent,” Sammon said. “Everyone is reliant on their co-workers and the importance of teamwork and communication really shines through. 34 Lives is a tight-knit group, and I find that makes it easy to connect with everyone.”

Connected to IFI, Sammon is enrolled in a zero-credit course, Internship and Research Experiences (ENTR 39699). The course helps complete coursework for the Entrepreneurship Certificate Capstone at Purdue and will allow Sammon’s experience at 34 Lives to appear on her transcript, she said. Programming at Purdue also will focus on preparing students for working at a startup and in tech, mixing business, innovation and engineering.

“I think IFI is an awesome program in that I would have never found this company had they not been partnered together,” Sammon said. “I hope that expansion means more students will hear about IFI early on in their college experience. It's a great program to utilize for those who want to dip their toes into industry, and startups are such a unique experience. I feel extremely lucky to have found this opportunity and all the more grateful for IFI and their work to partner us students with these awesome startups.”

For more on the IFI program, visit the Office of Professional Practice website

Students in a lab
Since 2021, 73 interns have been placed in 10 industry sectors through IFI.