Engineering co-op program celebrates 100 years at UA

By Hillary Martter

Buchtelite News Writer

This year the College of Engineering’s cooperative program celebrated its 100-year anniversary. The program, designed to help engineering students find gainful employment in their fields of interest, is an intricate and well-organized system.

The co-op program begins after a student’s completion of their sophomore year. Each semester that follows alternates between in-classroom experience and real-life, full-time, paid experience with a company of their choice. This is what program coordinator Deanna Dunn refers to as a traditional alternating program.

Some students who live locally opt to take night classes during their semesters with a company as well. The alternating semesters help to “blend theory with relative experience,” Dunn said.DSCN0151

“There’s such an array of industry and that’s why this is so fun for them,” she said.

She goes on to detail how most incoming freshmen are unsure of the direction they want to take their engineering degree. In high school they know they like math and science, but they ask themselves, “What can I do with this?”

Freshman and sophomore year helps students to answer this, as there is a vast range in the types of industries that engineers can venture into, such as aerospace, biomedical, chemical, civil, electrical, corrosion and mechanical engineering. Within these areas one can then decide if they would like to do manufacturing, design, consulting, technical sales or quality testing.

Alumni of the co-op program, as well as current students, have received full-time positions from companies such as John Deere, Goodyear, Nike, Honda, Smuckers, NASA, Folgers, Crayola and L’Oreal, among many others.

Dunn insists, though, that the co-op program benefits other departments as well. Her goal spans beyond benefiting the engineering department.

“I work for the college of engineering, but I also work for The University of Akron,” she said. “So, I’m always hopeful that if [a company] takes my co-ops in the engineering side, they may also take a student from HR, or accounting, or finance, or supply chain or IT. If our students do well out there in industry we’re represented as The University of Akron.”

“I’m loyal and passionate for engineering, but I also want the university to survive and thrive,” Dunn said.

This year alone, 24 seniors have accepted positions post-graduation in May. Senior chemical engineering major Todd Simmering is one such student. He first participated with Marathon for his co-op experience, followed by ConocoPhillips. The latter company has offered him a job in Texas upon graduation.

“It’s a phenomenal offer,” Dunn said.

Summering is equally enthused when asked about his future career. He will be working exclusively with new technologies in the shale oil field.

“I’ll have the opportunity to grow with a technology as it evolves. The industry continues to perfect the engineering involved with unconventional assets,” he said.

Another aspect of the engineering department, apart from the co-op program, is the career fair that the school hosts every year.

On Oct. 8, the exclusively engineer-geared fair took place at InfoCision Stadium. It grew so big that it had to be moved from its usual location at the Student Union. Still, 32 companies had to be turned away due to space

“It was really great to get a feel for the companies that I may co-op with in the future,” freshman Kole Williams said. “I also talked to a few companies about internships during the summer of 2014, which would be a great experience for me.”

Simmering agrees about the effectiveness of the fairs. He says fairs in the past have helped him prepare interview answers and learn to be comfortable talking with a professional.

“The fair is a huge confidence builder,” Williams said.

Overall, students and faculty alike agree that the co-op program, career fair, and set-up of the College of Engineering help contribute to the wide range of success stories for its students.