The Cooperative Education (co-op) program at Cleveland State University’s Washkewicz College of Engineering is an experiential education opportunity that provides the link between the classroom and the workplace. It is an opportunity for the student to learn about her/his area of academic interest through practical experience.
In today’s competitive job market, employers can select students for future employment and are looking for experience coupled with a college education. Co-ops allow the student to gain work experience through a relationship with the college and the employer, allowing them to explore different career opportunities. They are able to try new areas of professional experience and develop and apply communication skills. It is a win-win situation, where both the student and the employer have the opportunity to determine if there is a good fit. In addition to the professional benefits, the student can help pay for his or her education.
- Students are able to pre-test their academic and career choices. Through Co-op, students may discover they prefer a different discipline or working "in the field", rather than sitting behind a computer, or that technical sales allows them to use their strongest attributes.
- Co-op provides a link between what is learned in the classroom and what is done in the field. Students move beyond solving assigned, textbook problems to identifying real engineering problems and their solutions. Typically, students who participate in Co-op demonstrate higher achievement in the classroom due to their experiences.
- Students are able to practice their communication skills and learn how to effectively market themselves through the mediums of cover letter, resumes, and interviews. This will provide valuable experience when it comes time for the student to seek his/her first job after graduation.
- Co-op provides an excellent opportunity for students to network with potential, future employers. Many companies use co-op positions as a training process, anticipating successful students becoming full-time employees after graduation. In addition, students will interact with engineering students from other universities, professional engineers working in the field, as well as professionals from other disciplines.
- Students are eligible to begin their first Co-op experience during the sophomore year depending on the student’s area of academic study.
- Co-ops are taken on a pass/fail basis.
- As an academic program, there is a required course, ESC 300/400, which students must take and assignments to be completed. Faculty Mentors assign grades of Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory for ESC 300/400.