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The Mutual Re Enforcement Of Curricular Education And Co Operative Education: A Case Study

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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

The Influence of Cooperative Education

Tagged Division

Cooperative & Experiential Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1245.1 - 15.1245.9



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Paper Authors

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Jim Wojciechowski Grand Valley State University

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Charles Standridge Grand Valley State University

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

The Mutual Re-enforcement of Curricular Education and Co- operative Education: A Case Study


It is well accepted that curricular education and co-operative education are necessary and complimentary components for preparing job-ready bachelors-level engineers. A case study is presented concerning how one engineering student in the Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree program at a regional comprehensive university expanded his engineering knowledge and abilities through a three semester co-operative education experience at a local manufacturing company. The emphasis of the case study is on the specific ways that curricular education and the co-operative education experience influenced each other. Some support for the co-operative education experience came from individual courses such as freshman level CAD/CAM which prepared the student for a first co-op assignment on the design team where knowledge of the software tool Pro/Engineer was reinforced and expanded. This better prepared the student to use CAD concepts and Pro/Engineer in subsequent academic courses. Some support came from the general engineering knowledge acquired in multiple classes such as the use of Excel; engineering terminology, mechanisms and devices; and the engineering design process. This knowledge was applied during the co-op experience to customer relationship topics such as meeting requirements, using design standards, satisfying machine footprint constraints, and writing documentation that was understandable to all constituents. General curricular knowledge was also applied to technical issues such as calculating the thrust force of a pneumatic cylinder given its bore size, stroke length, and supplied air pressure. The professional development gained each co-op semester better prepared the student for the ensuing curricular education experience in various ways including assurance that no curricular assignment, project, or task is too challenging; realization of how much there is to learn; confidence to communicate professionally with professors, academic advisors, and other engineers; and a newly developed awareness of project scope beyond the student’s direct involvement, including funding and planning.


Since co-operative engineering education (co-op) was introduced at the University of Cincinnati in 1906, it has become generally accepted that this co- curricular activity is an essential part of preparing job ready bachelors-level engineers. Milliken and Fatehi1 discuss how co-op is an invaluable career development tool as almost all employers first recruit new full-time employees through co-op. Furthermore, a large percent, 86% in this study, of co-op students accept full-time employment with their co-op employers.

Curricular education prepares students for the co-op experience and the co-op experience prepares students for additional curricular education. For example,

Wojciechowski, J., & Standridge, C. (2010, June), The Mutual Re Enforcement Of Curricular Education And Co Operative Education: A Case Study Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15765

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