A University of Arkansas at Little Rock student has her heart set on working at one of the top technology companies in the world and is using her UA Little Rock classes and internships to get the experience she needs for the future of her dreams.
Caleaha Virgil, a 21-year-old senior from Conway, is majoring in electronics and computer engineering technology. After she graduates from UA Little Rock in 2020, Virgil plans to work full-time for an engineering company for two years while earning a master’s degree in engineering management. Then she plans to go after her heart’s desire to work at a top tech company – Apple, Google, or Microsoft.
Virgil is getting the experience she needs with unique classroom experiences and internships. This summer, she worked as an intern at Reynolds Consumer Products in Hot Springs. Reynolds Consumer Products is known for its trusted household products, including Reynolds Wrap foil and Hefty trash bags, slider bags, and disposable tableware.
At Reynolds, Virgil worked with programmable logic controller (PLC), an industrial digital computer that has been adapted to control manufacturing processes. Since Virgil learned PLC through her Robotics and Programming Logic Controls course at UA Little Rock, the internship gave her a great opportunity to put her skills to use in the real world. She also worked with the company’s PanelView software, using skills she gained in the Data Acquisition and Sensors course.
“I loved the internship,” Virgil said. “It gave me a new perspective of the courses at UA Little Rock. In class, we sometimes wonder when we are going to use what we learn. During this internship, I learned that what we learn in class is the background information that we use in the real world.”
This is the second internship Virgil has completed. She also worked as a mechanical engineering intern at Tarkett in Florence, Alabama, where she fixed machines.
As a senior in high school, Virgil decided to go into computer and electrical engineering technology after seeing her classmates fixing a computer.
“I was going around taking pictures of different classes we have, and I went into the computer engineering room. I saw the class working on a computer, and I started talking to a few guys in the course who showed me how to fix the computer’s hard drive,” she said. “That’s how I got into computer and electrical engineering technology. I decided this is what I want to do, and I came in as a freshman and got right to work.”
Back in 2015, when Virgil was starting her college career, she said she was attracted to UA Little Rock because of its homey feeling and small class sizes.
“I decided to come here because when I first visited with the orientation leaders, it felt like home,” she said. “The EIT ambassadors made me feel welcome, and the class sizes for engineering were very small. I didn’t want to go anywhere where they could have 100 students or more per class.”
When she’s not busy with classes, Virgil serves as an ambassador for the College of Engineering and Information Technology and the Office of Admissions, as well as president and treasurer of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering student organization. She also volunteers as a praise dance instructor to young men ages 12-17 at Greater Rose of Sharon Missionary Baptist Church as well as a three-year Junior Achievement of Arkansas volunteer with the City of Little Rock.
“People ask me all the time why you want to be an engineer, but I just want to make a difference,” Virgil said. “I was always taught to make a difference and try to impact people’s lives. I can make a difference with my knowledge by helping to create the next big laptop or smartphone or whatever project I am involved in because technology is changing the world every day.”
In the upper right photo, Caleaha Virgil, a 21-year-old senior from Conway, works as an intern at Reynolds Consumer Products plant. Photo by Ben Krain.