June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.1015.1 - 11.1015.13
Preparing Engineers for the Global Workplace: The University of Cincinnati International Co-op Model
In 1906, the University of Cincinnati developed the concept of Cooperative Education in the College of Engineering. Today UC has the largest cooperative education program at any public university in the Country, with 4,000 students (from five colleges) and 1,500 employers.
The College of Engineering continues to be a leader in the field, creating the International Engineering Co-op Program in the early 1990s. Now after expanding to include students from all UC’s co-op colleges, the ICP is one of the University of Cincinnati’s premier programs.
The International Co-op Program responded to the need to improve the ability of American students, particularly engineers, to understand and deal with other cultures. Initially programs were created in German and Japanese. A Spanish program was added later. The goals of the programs were two-fold: to improve students’ knowledge of a specific language and culture; and to familiarize them with the social, economic, and industrial structures of their chosen country. Following a rigorous preparation program in the US, students use their technical, language, and cross-cultural skills in a capstone co-op assignment abroad. The combination of skills acquired through the professional practice and language/culture programs creates a structure which attracts highly-motivated students, and allows them to succeed in an international work environment1.
About ten percent of all engineering students (over 200 to date) participate in the ICP. The strengths to the UC program are: 1) Students complete four co-op quarters in the US, prior to an international co-op assignment and 2) An intensive language program comprised of over 300 classroom hours of German, Japanese or Spanish was created specifically for students preparing to live and work in abroad. This combination of work experience and language proficiency has proven valuable to students and employers. The students enter an international work environment feeling confident of their technical abilities. They become employee who can work independently and take responsibility for their own projects. The language proficiency and cultural understanding enables them to quickly assimilate themselves into a new culture, and become productive members of work teams.
The most recent addition to the program is the creation of two learning modules, which students are expected to complete during their international assignments. The learning modules are designed to make students aware of how their newly-acquired language skills enabled them to better deal with problems and to better understand the culture in which they’re working.
Over the next few years, the University of Cincinnati plans to expand their international co-op program by implementing new initiatives, to create more opportunities for students to co-op abroad and to attract international students to the University of Cincinnati to meet the needs of employers for a culturally diverse workforce with the ability to work across borders.
Elliott, G., & Cates, C., & Dansberry, B., & Trent, L. (2006, June), Preparing Engineers For The Global Workplace: The University Of Cincinnati Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. https://peer.asee.org/600
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