April 20, 2024

By Janice Phelan
Communications and Marketing University of Central Missouri-Missouri Innovation Campus

Owen Douglas Smith, a senior in the Missouri Innovation Campus (MIC) program, was recently recognized as the University of Central Missouri’s Outstanding Design and Drafting Student Technology Student for 2023-24. A 2022 graduate of Lee’s Summit West High School, Smith will also receive his bachelor’s degree in design and drafting this May.

The 19-year-old college senior said the Missouri Innovation Campus program saved him both time and money.

“I graduated with a bachelor’s degree two years earlier than any of my friends,” he said, “and I also have a full-time position lined up directly after graduation.”

Through the Missouri Innovation Campus program, a partnership involving UCM, the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, Metropolitan Community College (MCC), and approximately 70 metro-area businesses, students enter the program the summer before their junior year in high school when they begin taking classes at Lee’s Summit R-7’s Summit Technology Academy. Throughout their final two high school years, MIC program participants take college-level classes from both UCM and MCC, allowing them to earn their UCM bachelor’s degree just two years after high school graduation.

In addition to the accelerated college degree pathway, the MIC program has earned national recognition for reshaping the way students experience education. Another unique aspect of the program is its three-year, year-round, paid internships, designed to connect students to industry-leading businesses.

Smith has served as an intern at Olsson for nearly three years, working in the general civil team’s drafting department. Thanks to this internship, his skills in programs such as Civil 3D and Bluebeam Revu have greatly improved, he added.

As with a majority of the MIC program interns, Smith has been hired by the company where he served his internship. He will begin his new job as an assistant technician at Olsson in June.

“I’ve made good friends with many of my co-workers, and we usually go out to lunch or play a card game together at least once a week,” Smith said.  

“Owen was one of our first hires as Olsson began working with the MIC program back in March of 2021,” said Jason Newland, Olsson’s design manager, adding that Owen’s growth as a person, in his career, and his understanding of the industry as a member of the company’s team has been exceptional.

“People he works with regularly would forget that he was still an intern, saying they just thought of Owen as part of the team,” Newland added.

The UCM senior said he selected the MIC program due to its many benefits and the number of fields offered. 

“Practically all of my degree-related courses were actually helpful in my job,” Smith said.

For more information about the Missouri Innovation Campus program, visit this webpage.