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Co-ops and Their Communication Needs

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

What Are We Learning About Co-op and Experiential Education Experience?

Tagged Division

Cooperative & Experiential Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.319.1 - 25.319.9



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Paper Authors


Craig J. Gunn Michigan State University

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Craig Gunn is the Director of the Communication Program in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Michigan State University. His duties include the integration of communication skill activity into all courses within the mechanical engineering program, including overseas experiences. He works closely with the Cooperative Engineering Education Division of the College of Engineering to monitor the communication skills of students who co-op during their college years. He is currently the Editor of the CEED Newsbriefs and is co-author of a number of textbooks focusing on engineering freshmen orientation.

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Co-ops and Their Communication NeedsFor over 10 years the Cooperative Engineering Education program at XXX provided a workshopin communication for its students going out on their first co-op. The 3-hour workshop addresseda range of topics that will be provided in the paper while addressing needs that students mighthave in the real world. It was a rushed effort to remind students quickly about what they neededto think about during their co-op experience. They left campus almost immediately and becameimmersed in their work. When the co-op finished they produced reports detailing what they hadlearned from the co-op. They were required to write of their experience fourteen weeks after theinitial workshop. It became easy to see that the workshop was really only a poor preparation for apaper produced much later and not a good introduction to necessary communication skillacquisition or remembrance. The issue of communication in the real world was lost in most ofthe co-ops’ minds. When it was realized that not enough was being done for the students’ needs,the current structure of addressing communication was implemented without the workshop.The new plan attempts to bring students closer to the communication activities of the workplaceand to allow them to see the importance of communication along with their technical expertise.In changing the focus of the experience from only personal acquisition of information on theworking world to a broader involvement in actual communication activities, communicationbecame more centrally focused and valuable to the co-ops. The paper addresses the original ideaof the workshop idea combined with the present approach to suggest that by combining bothefforts together, the co-op will receive the most value for the experience.Surveys of students and employers concerning communication will help to show the importanceof a continuous stream of communication focus in the life of an engineering co-op.

Gunn, C. J. (2012, June), Co-ops and Their Communication Needs Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21077

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