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Applying The Rigors Of Internship Principles To A Successful Co Op Design

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.107.1 - 3.107.6



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Virendra K. Varma

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1148

Applying the Rigors of Internship Principles to a Successful Co-Op Design

Virendra K. Varma, Ph.D., P.E. Missouri Western State College

Abstract: The major purpose of an internship is to develop an individual’s occupational competence by application of theoretical knowledge attained through successful completion of course work which is related to the individual’s profession. An internship provides a link between theory and practice, and gives an individual a first-hand experience of involvement in real jobs. Problem-solving skills are enhanced during the course of internship, and a much clearer picture of the profession develops. While there is confusion among educators between cooperative education (co-op), internship, and the work experience, they all tend to accomplish the same, which in essence is providing the student appropriate occupational experiences. Both internship and cooperative educational initiatives serve as pathways for a student to apply and test his learning attained in school. This paper addresses the conceptual design of co-ops that has served the interests of students at Missouri Western well over the last fifteen years. Input from local industry is discussed, and suggestions for improvement of co-op design are made.


If I were to follow the thread of my own journey through engineering education on the way to getting my first degree in civil engineering in the early 1960s, I may set the tone of this paper on an autobiographical course, but the intent and scope of the paper is much broader. It is to use my own example and my own experiences to explain what role does ‘practical training’ play in the overall professional development of a student. The phrase ‘practical training’ has other names, such as internship, co-op, work experience, etc. Going through an academically rigorous 5-year degree program in civil engineering at the time when the space exploration and the race to get to the moon were on the high priority list, our school required that all engineering students complete one summer after the third year, and one summer after the fourth year, taking practical training in industry. We were required to write a technical report on our engineering experiences, and on return to the school, we were interviewed by a team of professors to evaluate our involvement, and depth of exposure to various engineering functions while on the job. The internship gave us the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the profession which we were to join on graduation.

What were my on-the-job internship experiences? One summer, I interned on a steel mill construction project which required huge foundations supported on massive pilings. The other summer, I was involved in the intricacies of design and construction of a defense project of major importance; the job involved rock blasting and construction of a camouflaged operational building with two communication towers made of self-supporting galvanized steel structures. Having been already taught, and trained in the structural theory and design of structures at school


Varma, V. K. (1998, June), Applying The Rigors Of Internship Principles To A Successful Co Op Design Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--6924

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