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York College Chemistry grad takes J.D. Brown Center internship experience to New York

November 10, 2016
Garrett Amsbaugh, former dual intern of MRG Labs and SiGNa Chemistry in the J.D. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship.
Garrett Amsbaugh, '15, says goodbye to his friends and colleagues at York College’s J.D. Brown Center.

One of Garrett Amsbaugh’s proudest moments as a York College of Pennsylvania student is forever captured in a photo he’ll take with him on the next chapter of his professional journey.

It was April 2015 and Amsbaugh was a senior Chemistry student and a dual intern of MRG Labs and SiGNa Chemistry in the J.D. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship.

Wearing a white lab coat and protective goggles while representing not only the labs but his entire college, Amsbaugh shook the hand and conversed with a special visitor to the J.D. Brown Center – Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf.

They shared a brief conversation, but the one question that seemed most pressing to Gov. Wolf was if the product Amsbaugh was helping SiGNa Chemistry develop for fracking was environmentally green.

“‘It’s completely green,’” Amsbaugh remembers telling Wolf. “It was really exciting for me to explain to him what I do here and the opportunities I had as a student.”

Taking the next step

The photo that documents that brief exchange was presented to Amsbaugh last week as he said goodbye to his friends and colleagues at York College’s J.D. Brown Center.

The Elizabethtown native is “hatching” from the business incubator, along with SiGNa Chemistry, the company that employs him.

SiGNa found its home in the J.D. Brown Center, sharing laboratory space with MRG Labs for a time. As the company looks to centralize its efforts, Amsbaugh will move with it to Rochester, N.Y.

And he credits his time at York College for preparing him for the next step.

“I think York College students can get a lot out of the opportunities here,” Amsbaugh said. “The professors are always willing to guide you or offer advice.”

There are also plenty of businesses, like the ones in the J.D. Brown Center, who want to give students experience, Amsbaugh said.

“You never know when that one connection you make will be the one that makes all the difference.”

Experience for the workforce

Offering students like Amsbaugh those relationships and experiences that help them stand out in the workforce is a core mission of the J.D. Brown Center and those who occupy it.

For Rich Wurzbach, president of MRG Labs, being on campus makes all the difference. His lab used to be across Route 30, and he remembers a time a York College student was late one day for his internship.

Just before Wurzbach reprimanded the intern for being tardy, he realized the student got stuck in traffic not because he overslept, but because he made the trek by bicycle.

“These kind of opportunities are so valuable to a college student,” Wurzbach said. “We knew that being on campus was a priority for us.”

Ready for the next step

As Amsbaugh posed for photos during a goodbye lunch, he told his colleagues about the exciting, new things he’ll be doing.

While his time in York County allowed him to focus on one inorganic product that SiGNa Chemistry produced, he’ll now be able to work on all six products the company produces.

“My internships and work experience here made it possible for me to make this move,” Amsbaugh said. “You have to be willing to take the opportunities that are available – and I’m glad I decided to do that.”