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Cooperative Education In Civil Engineering Technology

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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

3.160.1 - 3.160.4

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Paper Authors

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William Whitaker

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

Session 1148


William Whitaker Murray State University Murray, Kentucky


Cooperative education began in an engineering program at the University of Cincinnati in 1906 where the program continues to exist and be used as a model for others. Cooperative education and engineering technology has a common focus in preparing graduates for a successful professional career. Examining the cooperative education component in the Civil Engineering Technology program at Murray State University offers comparisons to the more established programs.

This paper reports on an innovative work-study program financed by local builders and contractors that attempts to overcome some of the obstacles found in creating a co-op program at a small rural university. While the benefits of the work-study program are consistently mentioned by the students, employers, and educators their statements are purely opinion. There is little data about the effects of the work-study program concerning graduate placement rates or subsequent patterns of promotion and earnings.


Cooperative education programs have been in existence for over 90 years and nearly one-third of the over 3,000 colleges and universities have some form of a co-op program (Woolridge, 1987). The traditional form of co-op involving alternating semesters of work and school, following the traditional ABET format, is not the most popular. Only eight engineering schools make co-op in the traditional form mandatory. The Civil Engineering Technology(CET) program at Murray State University(MSU) requires a one semester co-op or work-integrated learning experience. The co-op requirement has been in place since the CET program’s inception in 1970.

Many schools offer co-op in some form, however, most often they are programs involving small enrollments (Stern, Finkelstein, Stone, Latting, and Dornsife, 1995) and therefore the programs are not expanding or evolving. Irrespective, co-op benefits are well documented (Dubick, McNerney and Potts, 1996; Wagstaffe, 1995; Wessels and Pumphrey, 1995). MSU survey results show employers and students confirming numerous benefits for all involved; students, employers and educational institutions. With over two hundred students involved annually in the MSU program it has attracted more than enough success. According to annual surveys, over 70% of the students participating in a work-integrated experience felt that their job experience lead to an employment offer.

Whitaker, W. (1998, June), Cooperative Education In Civil Engineering Technology Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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