Internships prove priceless — and tasty — for MTSU...

Internships prove priceless — and tasty — for MTSU master’s students

Nathan Riggsbee just finished an internship with Jack Daniel’s Distillery. Quite an opportunity — and the job included quality control … aka taste-testing the whiskey.

Approaching commencement Saturday, Aug. 12, in Murphy Center, Syed Bukhari more than finished his internship with the Tennessee Board of Regents. He did so well in completing his first project early they presented him a second one he’s in the midst of completing now.

Samuel Wolf makes MSPS presentation.

Samuel Wolf discusses his internship with Brentwood, Tenn.-based LifePoint Health during the MTSU Master of Science in Professional Science presentations Aug. 10 in the Science Building. He is a biostatistics major. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Riggsbee and Bukhari were among 17 MTSU graduate students making end-of-summer term Master of Science in Professional Science presentations Thursday (Aug. 10) in the Science Building. Most are hopeful of landing full-time positions with the respective companies they interned at these past number of months.

The MSPS is a groundbreaking two-year master’s degree program that combines business and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curriculums to produce in-demand, working graduates. Also known nationally as Professional Science Master’s, MTSU degrees equip students for successful careers in business, nonprofit, government or academia.

Advantages of an MSPS degree from MTSU include:

  • 70-plus percent of MSPS students are offered a job at their place of internship.
  • 90-plus percent of these students are employed at graduation.
  • Average salaries for graduating students are between $60,000 and $70,000.

“It was just fantastic,” Riggsbee, 24, a biotechnology major from Cookeville, Tennessee, said of the Jack Daniel’s experience, where he and three other college students worked and lived together in a Lynchburg, Tennessee, home provided by the company.

“From the day I stepped in the door, everybody was more than helpful,” he added. “They understood that I was an intern, that I wasn’t going to be an expert on the first day. … They were really good support.”

Riggsbee recently applied for a microbiology position with the company.

Bukhari, 46, of Knoxville, Tennessee, a graduate teaching assistant in the Department of Engineering Technology and 2016-17 student president of the Experimental Vehicles Program, provided process maps in engineering and budgeting information for TBR’s Office of Facilities Development.

“I gained a lot of knowledge about the product — management and safety and health,” said Bukhari, who oversaw the completion of MTSU’s lunar rover, solar boat and Baja (off-road vehicle) hands-on student projects.

His second TBR undertaking involves developing educational training modules for the regents’ staff. Bukhari earned his bachelor’s degree in electro-mechanical engineering in 2015. He has a 3.51 graduate GPA.

Actuarial science, biostatistics, health care informatics, geosciences and engineering management were the other areas of study for this latest group of MSPS interns.

For more on the program, visit or call Saeed Foroudastan, program director, at 615-494-7681 or Carey Snowden, graduate coordinator, at 615-904-8581.

— Randy Weiler (

Mengqi Zhang makes MSPS presentation.

MTSU graduate student Mengqi Zhang points to the screen showing part of the process of her internship with Ancore LLC in Franklin, Tenn. Zhang is a biostatistics major. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)