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ZTE Student Employees Gain Meaningful Experience and Industry Knowledge

student works on Shima Seiki machine in knitting lab

By Mary Giuffrida and Destry Adams

As the semester nears its end, the student employees at the Zeis Textiles Extension (ZTE) are showing no signs of slowing down. 

ZTE employs students from across Wilson College of Textiles. They all work in different capacities. From working directly on industry projects in some of the Wilson College’s many labs, to writing the ZTE newsletter, all the student employees bring something special when they come into work.

“The students bring a lot of value to the work that we do,” Melissa Sharp, the associate director of ZTE, says. “They keep us energized.It’s great to see people who are excited to do and learn new things.”

The ZTE student employees have the opportunity to work closely not only with Wilson College staff, but industry professionals. They collaborate on various projects, including the swatch book project, which brings textbooks with textiles swatches to first-year Wilson College students.

“They’re getting that hands-on experience on the equipment; they’re learning how to work with real-world projects,” Sharp says. “They’re seeing the back and forth between the customers and the lab managers.”

Below, get to know some of the ZTE student employees:

Anne Graf, Knitting Lab Assistant

Senior, Fashion and Textile Design

What does a normal day look like for you as a ZTE student employee?

As a knitting lab assistant, I troubleshoot the Shima Seiki Machines. I also create and run programs for other students, perform maintenance on the knitting machines and facilitate design decisions.

What made you decide to become a part of the ZTE team? 

I really wanted to learn more about how fabric is made. Knitwear seemed really cool to me, and I was excited to be able to work on the machines.

How has your time at ZTE contributed to your education as a whole?

I know way more about knit structures and how to program knitting designs than I ever could have otherwise. I had a summer internship where I was working on the Shima Seiki Machines, which I was qualified to do because of my role as a knitting lab assistant. I also understand the Apex Mills software and how to create programs for knitwear, which is not necessarily something I would have learned with my degree alone.

Cecilia Huynh, Marketing and Business Development Intern

Senior, Textile Technology

What does a normal day look like for you as a ZTE student employee?

I work with the office to develop and maintain the ZTE websites by updating the information on the pages. I also write the ZTE newsletter.

What made you decide to become a part of the ZTE team?

I began as a student in the SOAR Outreach program to gain experience in the weaving, knitting, spinning and physical testing labs.

How has working at ZTE changed your experience as a student within the Wilson College of Textiles?

Without my experience at ZTE, my student life here at the Wilson College would be incomplete. This position was vital to me when I started as a sophomore to gain more experience and prepare to enter the textile industry. I do not think I would have been prepared for the work force or have the same amount of confidence in my skills if it was not for the ZTE.

Denisse A. Sada-Romero, Office Assistant

Junior, Textile Technology

What does a normal day look like for you as a ZTE student employee?

I have a daily checklist, where I check for requests for the ZTE labs. I also help with Six Sigma meetings and academic services that are provided. 

What made you decide to become a part of the ZTE team?

I wanted to become an active member of the Wilson College community.

How has your time at ZTE contributed to your education as a whole?

My time working in ZTE has benefited me and my education. I have become more acquainted with the staff in the Wilson College and received support from my coworkers. The ZTE office specifically has helped me with my academic career by providing aid, and I was also fortunate enough to come along with them to the IFAI Expo.