From left: Professor Ankita Mohapatra, CSUF Department of Computer Engineering; Nina Parker, Virun; Stephanie Bromley, Virun; Dean Susan Barua CSUF Department of Computer Sciences and Engineering
Guest Professors for a day at Cal State Fullerton
Recently, Virun employees Stephanie Bromley and Nina Parker were invited to be guests professors for a day at Cal State Fullerton’s College of Engineering and Computer Sciences Department, as part of a year-long corporate partnership between Virun and the University. Both Bromley and Parker spoke to students about the current internships the company is sponsoring and how their projects provide mutual benefit for both Virun and the interns involved.
In September 2019, Virun partnered up with Cal State Fullerton for two projects involving students from the College of Engineering and Computer Sciences Department. For the first project, Virun is sponsoring several interns for the purpose of revamping the company’s current website, and to create a new interface that allows our customers to ‘build their product,’ provide details about their product, key ingredients, flavors, and target market, to assist Virun’s scientists in the development of the customer’s vision. Virun’s other sponsored internship opportunity is the creation of an inventory-tracking system that allows for batch recording, formulations using micro-amounts of ingredients, and information cross-over into accounting software.
Philip Bromley, Virun’s CEO and Co-founder, says he loves being able to work with the students and feels like they are getting valuable, real-world work experience. “In our 17 years in business, we have always supported the local colleges and universities. Many of these people end up getting hired by Virun after they’ve graduated because they’ve already shown their abilities and work ethic on the job.” In fact, Virun has had a successful internship program in place with Cal Poly Pomona for many years. Most of the scientists on staff are former interns.
Though Virun has a history of working with other universities, this is the company’s first partnership with CSUF. It is also the first time the company is using student expertise in a field other than Food Science, Chemistry or Biology. Students in Computer Science are helping Virun make day to day tasks run more smoothly and efficiently.
Parker, who is looking forward to the website revamp, agrees, “This new interface will tell us exactly what the customer wants, from ingredients, to bottle or pouch size - this will save us time because the customer will answer a list of questions and criteria for their product. We will know right away if we can make this product and what adjustments need to be made instead, of all the back and forth questions.”
The inventory tracking program will also be helpful. Currently, staff input and calculate everything manually, and they check everything visually. It is very time consuming and tedious. The program the students are creating is tailored to Virun’s specific needs and will help streamline the process. It will also let staff know if there is enough inventory of an ingredient onsite to make a product, or if it needs to be ordered.
As part of the partnership, Virun donated $15,000 to help fund both projects for Cal State Fullerton. Students have been working diligently to try to complete these projects by the end of the school year in May.