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Co Op, Communication, And Engineering Disciplines

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Revitalizing Cooperative Education and Engineering

Tagged Division

Cooperative & Experiential Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.323.1 - 11.323.8



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Paper Authors

author page

Craig Gunn Michigan State University

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

Co-op, Communication, and Engineering Disciplines

Abstract As we look at the modern world, a world consumed with fast communication, websites, text messaging, and cell phone conversation that does not reinforce the necessary tools of communication, one must start to investigate areas that will enable engineering students to enter the world of work and function as valuable members of that world. We are always reminded that cooperative engineering education has proved itself to be an important experience in the life of the young engineer. We must now investigate the ways in which co-op helps to influence the communication needs of the working world. Students usually spend three rotations learning about the environment of their employers. They discover what actually working in engineering is all about. But they also begin to understand the communication activities that will cause them to succeed or falter in their careers. Not only must we study what it is that engineers do when they are out on co-op. We must reinforce those activities when they return to campus. This paper will investigate the communication needs of co-op engineers and the effect that our increased concern with their perfection can have on the careers of the young engineer.


When students begin their cooperative working assignments, there are many things that are flowing through their minds. They consider the money that they will be earning as part of the work force. They are also entering, in most cases, an environment that is unfamiliar to them. They have not previously been in positions that have required them to become the supervisors of older union workers. They have not experienced jobs that have placed ultimate responsibility upon their decision making skills. Additionally, they must communicate to many different audiences both inside and outside the working environment. Some must acclimate themselves to totally new living conditions and cultural experiences. They must also consider what they assume to be the expectations of the faculty that they will encounter when they return to the university or college setting. This may seem like a myriad of stimuli bombarding the student, but it is these items that make up the cooperative work experience for our students.

In order for a work experience to be valuable for a student, there is a definite need to analyze the preparation for the experience, the experience itself and how the student moves through that experience, and the debriefing that the student receives when he or she returns to campus. A great number of the students who go on their first cooperative experience have not really been away from home that long, and it is necessary to prepare them for what they will encounter. It is also important to gain a perspective of what the student has experienced during the cooperative assignment. Therefore, well before students leave for their work sites, they must be given a clear indication of what they find out about the workplace. Since a work report is a commonly used method to obtain a grade for the semester's or quarter's work. On the other hand, the work report can be a means by which the students can focus on what is really contained in the work experience beyond the pay check that they receive at the end of each work period.

Gunn, C. (2006, June), Co Op, Communication, And Engineering Disciplines Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--397

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