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Considering Graduate Residencies And Co Ops In Healthcare Engineering

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Graduate Student Experience

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.312.1 - 15.312.6



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Paper Authors

author page

Barrett Caldwell Purdue University

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

Considering Graduate Residencies and Co-ops in Healthcare Engineering


Co-op rotations and practicum-style internships are common educational and professional development activities at the undergraduate level in engineering colleges. However, this practice is much less frequent in graduate engineering programs, presumably because of the focus on graduate research activity. Should similar limitations extend to graduate students who are conducting field-based research in emerging engineering discipline areas? This concern is especially critical in the field of healthcare engineering, on which there is growing national emphasis as well as a willingness to embrace new engineering techniques and practices in hospitals and medical centers. Ironically, the healthcare environment has an existing model for graduate preparatory training before the start of independent postgraduate practice: the medical residency. This paper describes the author’s experience in developing a research lab emphasis on “graduate engineering residencies” in healthcare settings. Multiple models are used, including partnerships between the author’s lab and campus healthcare technical assistance programs.


The concept of practical education in industry is not a new concept for undergraduate engineering disciplines. Co-operative engineering programs, despite fluctuations in design or student enrollment, remain a mainstay of undergraduate engineering programs across the US. Many students develop a sense of the applications of theoretical principles and useful equations during semesters and summers of professional experience. In addition, employers often find the co-op experience beneficial as a type of “extended interview and recruiting” process, where the employer learns both the skills of the student and the opportunities for applying recent innovations from the university to improving the performance of the organization.

Although this concept is well respected and implemented at the undergraduate level, the extension of the co-op / internship model to graduate education is much more sparsely implemented. Thesis-based graduate students are assumed to be spending their time on campus conducting research. As a result, a graduate-level co-operative education program is still considered a novelty at a number of universities, including the author’s current affiliation.

This disconnect between graduate education and industry practice can be seen as damaging to effective partnership and knowledge transfer between campus and company. Even in well- established disciplines, a lack of graduate student experience in the priorities and demands of real-world problems (except as filtered through a research advisor) can represent a dangerous contribution to a perceived gap between university research and workplace priorities. However, this problem is multiplied as engineers begin to work in emerging problem domain areas. For

Caldwell, B. (2010, June), Considering Graduate Residencies And Co Ops In Healthcare Engineering Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16811

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