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Cooperative Education As A Prime Mover And Key Constant In Industry ? University Relationships

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Curriculum Reform with Cooperative Education

Tagged Division

Cooperative & Experiential Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.408.1 - 12.408.7



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Paper Authors


Daniel Walsh California Polytechnic State University

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Daniel Walsh is currently Department Chair for Biomedical and General Engineering, and Professor of Materials Engineering at the College of Engineering at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He received his B.S. (Biomedical Engineering) , M.S. (Biomedical Engineering) and Ph.D. (Materials Engineering) degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Prior to joining Cal Poly, Dr. Walsh was employed by General Dynamics Corporation, as a principal engineer and group leader in the Materials Division.

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Jon Whited St. Jude Medical

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Jon Whited graduated from San Diego State University with a BS in Engineering Management. He is currently Manager, University Relations and Recruiting for
St. Jude Medical, Cardiac Rhythm Management Division. He has worked as a Software Test Manager and Systems Test Manager for General Electric Space Systems and as Manager of Software Product Assurance for TRW’s military space programs. Mr. Whited has developed engineering recruiting programs with universities through Co-Op programs, Sr. Projects, offering students the opportunity to take St. Jude Medical e-learning classes in clinical applications for engineers, and providing jobs on campus as University Associates to work on St. Jude Medical projects.

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Robert Crockett California Polytechnic State University

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Robert Crockett received his Ph.D. from University of Arizona in Materials Science and Engineering. He holds an M.B.A. from Pepperdine University and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from University of California, Berkeley. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Dr. Crockett is a specialist in technology development and commercialization of advanced materials and manufacturing processes. Prior to joining Cal Poly, he was founder and President of Xeragen, Inc., a San Luis Obispo-based biotechnology startup company. He has also served as an Assistant Professor at Milwaukee School of Engineering and was employed by McDonnell Douglas Space Systems Company, where he was a lead engineer and Principal Investigator on projects to develop technology evolution plans for the Space Station.

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

Cooperative Education as a Prime Mover and Key Constant in Industry - University Relationships


The Cooperative Education Experience underpins the educational development of the student, provides an opportunity for the student to become familiar with industry and industry practice, allows industry to become familiar with students and creates a comfortable vehicle for interaction between faculty and industry colleagues. It is the critical crucible where strong individual first-impressions are formed, and more importantly an integrator over time which is the foundation of the association between the industry and the university and the basis for their rapport. When correctly developed and administered by industry and university stakeholders, the coop can be not only the beginning of a longer term relationship between student and industry, but the harbinger of a strong and deep relationship between the company and the university. This paper discusses the development of one such successful relationship and the maturation of a relationship initiated in the cooperative education experience which blossomed into project work at the university, participation on advisory boards, sponsored laboratories, distance learning activities, help retaining faculty and the development of a consortium to support student projects and Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) learning outcomes.


All too often the plethora of opportunities presented by cooperative education programs go unrealized. In the minimal case the university perceives the coop program only as a tool to provide students the opportunity to gain professional work experience, and earn money. Again in this minimal case, industry perceives coop only as a “try-out” for potential employees, and as an opportunity to get make temporary hires to accomplish low-level work. In this scenario, neither the university nor the industry invest in an infrastructure to leverage the coop program to maximize outcomes for students and employers. Cooperative education should be much more. It is a low risk vehicle for growth of a relationship between the university and industry, and a device which allows for the evolution of this relationship. Through this device the university and the industry become familiar with each others structures, strengths and limitations.

Cooperative education has inherent educational value. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology implies that engineering education needs to become more holistic in nature. It demands graduates that are integrative as well as analytical. Academia must develop programs that are capable of producing graduates who are adept at functional thinking as well as analytical thinking, alumni as capable of integrating and connecting parts as they are at reductionism. Engineering education must provide exposures that extend a students desire to develop order into an ability to orchestrate chaos, experience which push students beyond a need to create certainty to enable them to develop a tolerance for and an understanding of risk and an attendant ability to embrace ambiguity. It requires engineers to practice problem forming as well as solving. It will stress engineering design and the ability to realize products. To be successful, engineers will need to have facility with intelligent technology to enhance creative opportunity. They will need the ability to manage complexity and uncertainty as members of productive teams rather than

Walsh, D., & Whited, J., & Crockett, R. (2007, June), Cooperative Education As A Prime Mover And Key Constant In Industry ? University Relationships Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2261

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