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Decentralized Experiential Education Services: Are We Reinventing the Wheel or Providing Specialized Services?

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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

Stops and Starts in the Development of Cooperative Education Programs

Tagged Division

Cooperative & Experiential Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.378.1 - 25.378.5



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Paper Authors


Ilka M. Balk University of Kentucky

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Ilka Balk has served as the Director of Cooperative Education and International Programs at the University of Kentucky’s College of Engineering since 2007. Before that, she served as an adviser in the co-op program for one and a half years. Balk has been a member of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) since 2006, and she is currently serving as the Chair of ASEE’s Cooperative and Experiential Education Division (CEED). She served as its secretary from 2010-2011, and as Chair-elect in 2011-2012. On campus at the University of Kentucky (UK), she is the Staff Adviser for the recently re-started Engineers Without Borders chapter, a group that plans, designs, and implements public service engineering projects, mostly in developing nations. In 2006, Balk also helped establish the German and Engineering program in the college, through which students can work, study, or conduct research in Germany. Under her direction, the College has established an exchange program with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany. She is also leading a group of freshmen students on a five-week tour to Germany every summer. Before coming to Lexington in 2004, Balk served as a political consultant to candidates and campaigns in the Washington, D.C., area and for the European Election Campaign in Stuttgart, Germany. Balk is a native of northern Germany and graduated with a master's in political science, history, and communications from the University of Göttingen, Germany. During her studies, she was an exchange student at the University of California, San Diego, for one academic year.

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Decentralized Experiential Education Services: Are We Reinventing the Wheel Or Providing Specialized Services?The session will explore the different models for helping students gain experience in their fieldof study. Different universities and colleges have different models, from decentralized serviceswithin the school or college for students in the college’s major, to centralized, university-wideservices for all students, and many different varieties in between.With dwindling university budgets, there appears to be a trend to centralize services so that allstudents are given the same opportunities. Many of these units are starting to have to generatefunds to be self supporting, rather than being part of the university’s tuition or fee structure.Some colleges and schools, however, are bucking the trend, and are incorporating experienceinto their mission or strategic plans as an integral part of the overall educational experience. Thepresenter will discuss the example of her own university, where recently the centralized careerservices office has transitioned to serve as provider of infrastructure (posting of positions,organizing a centralized career fair, providing interview rooms and conducting information andprofessional development sessions). Various colleges at the university, including the presenter’sown, have integrated academic advising functions with career advice, thus developing very closeties between academic and experiential scheduling and advising. The colleges also are becomingmore involved in company relations, and the experiential education connections are becomingvital to development offices for fundraising, project funding, and scholarship funding.The College of Engineering at the author’s institution is modeling its experiential educationdivision after the same university’s College of Business, where staff has been added – some fromthe career counseling field, but also from other areas, such as professionals in the majors. Theoffice functions as a holistic entity that accompanies the students from freshman year tograduation. The personal and continuous attention given to students in that college is consideredvital in their success.While the College of Engineering at the author’s institution has not been able to earmark thesame kind of funds as the business college has, it is currently staffed by three full timeemployees. College-employer relationships have already resulted in significant corporate supportfor student scholarships, senior or capstone design projects, as well as excellent placement ratesof students for internships and co-ops, as well as full time employment.

Balk, I. M. (2012, June), Decentralized Experiential Education Services: Are We Reinventing the Wheel or Providing Specialized Services? Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21136

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