School of Engineering

Co-op Employers

Engineering Cooperative Education Program

Key Employer Activities/Dates

2014 - 2015

During the summer semester, our students begin their first co-op experience. There are opportunities throughout the year when you, as a co-op employer, can be involved with the engineering program. Following are key seasonal activities and rough dates for your engagement with our engineering co-op program:

Summer 2014:

May – August: Employ new first-semester junior co-ops

· Orientation and foundational corporate learning

May – July: Interview soon-to-graduate seniors and make career employment offers

· Interviews on campus or at employer’s facility

August 1: Attend Engineering Design Conference and Co-op Employer Appreciation Luncheon

· Employer forum, luncheon, and senior project review – graduation for most seniors

Fall 2014:

August – December: Employ returning third-semester senior co-ops; make career employment offers

· They will graduate next August after completion of their senior year

August – November: Submission and consideration of Senior Project Proposals

August – December: Document interest in hiring from the new co-op class *

· Complete and submit your Co-op Job Description to LakerJobs

October 21: Participate in GVSU Fall Career Fair – EGR 289 (Co-op Prep Course) students required to attend *

· 1-5 pm at DeVos Place with multiple student/grad employment opportunities – fee – over 1,500 attendees

November 11-14: Practice Interviews with “Pre-Engineering” sophomores in EGR 289 *

· Participate in an on-campus “Speed Interview” session with 20 – 30 students

Mid-November: Panel discussion on business environment/co-op with EGR 289 students*

· Late afternoon panels with employer technical and recruiting personnel and senior co-ops or recent grads

Early December: Employer facility tours for EGR 289 students *

               · Afternoon presentation/tour

        Winter 2015:

January – April: Employ returning second-semester junior co-ops

·  Additional responsibility compared to first semester

January 9 – April: Interview approved/promoted Engineering students and make co-op employment offers *

· Interviews at your facility or on campus

January 14: Participate in the Engineering Co-op Recruiting Event *

· 2-4 pm at Eberhard Center – fee – with all approved co-ops seeking employment attending

February 24: Participate in GVSU Winter Career Fair employment fair

· 1-5pm at DeVos Place with multiple student/grad employment opportunities – fee – over 1,500 attendees

· Events to engage students from the new cohort to begin co-op typically in Summer 2015

If you or your company are looking for more opportunities to get involved, please e - mail the School of Engineering at


The cooperative education program is a partnership and cooperative effort between the student, the employer and the university. Each participant has expectations, and some requirements, in order to make the experience a success for all involved.

For the Student:

· Complete three work semesters with the same organization. The student can work in different units, groups or facilities within the organization over the course of the three semesters.

· Complete written assignments for each co-op semester (includes keeping a journal of work activities, reading various books and writing reports on them, reviewing and analyzing ethics case studies, and writing an end of semester work summary).

· Attend one group evening meeting of all co-op students.

· Complete an evaluation of the co-op semester.

For the Employer Organization:

· Provide progressively responsible engineering work for the student for three, alternating work semesters.

· Assign a supervisor for the student who is a degreed engineer.

· Provide mentoring of the student to aid in the student's professional growth as an engineer (this may or may not be provided by the supervisor).

· Be available to host a once-per co-op semester site visit from a GVSU faculty member (typically consists of a short, on-site meeting to see what the student has been working on and to discuss the student's progress).

· Complete an evaluation of the co-op semester.

· Pay the student (no payment rate specified). Because it is expected that the student is participating in real engineering work for an employer (and not simply shadowing or observing), this ensures compliance with the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

For the University:

· Facilitate the co-op program, including assisting with the hiring process between the student and employer, coordinating the student non-work assignments for the semester, and coordinating the evaluation process.

· Assign a faculty co-op advisor to each students each semester. This faculty member will monitor and evaluate the student's co-op semester and be available to assist the student and/or employer with issues that arise during the semester.

Successful co-op experiences have typically included the following components:

· Student provided with challenging work.

· Goals established each semester in collaboration with the employer and student.

· Student is given responsibility.

· Employer progressively grows the student from 'apprentice' to 'entry' engineer status over the course of the three semesters.

· Student's knowledge, skills and abilities are utilized.

· Employer provides mentorship to the student.


How to Structure the Experiences:

EGR 290 – The first assignment

Getting Started:

The first task is to assimilate the student into your organization. Consider the student like any other new employee.

Basics, completed prior to arrival:

· Workspace with chair, filing etc.

· Computer and company system logins

· Telephone

· Assignment plan


· Introductions to co-workers & organization

· Company history/overview (include values and vision)

· Company co-op philosophy

· Company co-op goals

· Hire new engineering graduates for long-term talent needs

· Complete productive engineering work

          · Review of assignment plan with understanding/agreement by student and supervisor

· Contribute to the student, university & engineering profession


The major opportunity here is for the student to learn how your company operates and how engineering work is accomplished. The student should be viewed as an apprentice engineer who might not have much experience in an industrial company that performs an engineering function. The learning objectives should include a broad knowledge of your products and services as well as how they are produced in limited prototype quantities and in manufacturing production.

Typical assignments might include working in a model shop/new product prototyping department, working in manufacturing (usually for two to four weeks), working in a test lab or documenting engineering changes for your product designs.

An assignment in a prototype department allows the co-op the opportunity to gain a broad understanding of its contributions to the product development process. Knowledge of the tools and materials used in your products should be obtained. An understanding of the value of quickly building functional and/or aesthetic samples and how they facilitate the product planning process should also be a result of such an assignment.

A short-term “hands-on” manufacturing operations assignment affords a great opportunity to learn how products are produced in larger quantities, as well as introducing the student to the manufacturing employees in a personal, non-threatening way. This assignment can be viewed as a foundation of proper design for manufacturing.

Working in a test lab provides exposure to many facets of the product development process, a wide variety of products and the performance requirements that they must meet. Tasks might include development of new/revised test methods and engineering specifications, automation of existing tests, upgrading of test equipment and verification of existing product test specifications.

By documenting product design revisions the student gains exposure to your product line as well as the tools and systems used to engineer, revise and document your designs. If there is a longer term project in mind for the student, this would be a good time to introduce the project to the student.


EGR 390 – The second assignment

Getting Started

Unless this assignment is in a different department or location (which is a great idea to expose the student to many facets of your company and keep their learning curve steep), this should be pretty easy. Reference the Basics and Orientation sections from the first assignment, and apply as many as needed for this one. Always include a new assignment plan with learning objectives.


By now the student has had an entire semester of technical work at your company. They should know their way around! The co-op has also completed a semester of upper division engineering classes appropriate to their chosen engineering emphasis (computer, electrical, interdisciplinary, product design/manufacturing or mechanical). The work assigned in the second semester should be more challenging and involve more responsibility, aligned with your estimation of their developing engineering skills.

Project assignments should be considered, with the scope proper for the student and their four-month full time availability.

There are a number of potential assignments that expose the co-op to relevant technical areas where they can apply their developing technical skills. Some of these are manufacturing engineering, industrial/operations engineering, quality engineering, product engineering, and controls engineering.

A manufacturing engineering assignment exposes the student to a broad range of tasks which vary on a daily basis. The student might work closely with a product development team to help design robust, cost effective parts that can be easily manufactured and assembled. They could be assigned a role to improve existing processes or help design new ones with a requirement for quality and cost effectiveness. Floor support, with a focus on solving problems, process control and workplace ergonomics is a potential assignment. The student should gain a good dose of knowledge of how people, machines, tools and fixtures operate to manufacture your products.

An industrial/operations engineering assignment can require the student to be involved with optimization of the manufacturing plant’s ability to make products and meet the overall company’s goals. The scope of the student’s assignment could be focused on work cells, or individual product lines. Improvement of production methods, workplace layouts and production flow to increase profitability and productivity are typical goals. Development, installation and administration of production standards and work incentives to motivate teams towards company goals are also potential tasks. Students will work with a number of functions and levels of your organization to gain agreement and acceptance of ideas and plans that will achieve business goals.

A goal of an assignment in quality engineering should include exposure to all levels of quality assurance and control within the company. This experience should give the student understanding of the impact that each of the engineering disciplines have on one another, and on the company’s business goals. Tasks can include assisting product development teams with robust design methodology, customer issue resolution, product layouts, design of experiment applications and capability studies. Exposure to customer priorities for the company’s products can be obtained through customer site reviews of the product’s applications.

A work assignment within product engineering will expose the student to the company’s product development process, product lines, product functions and product performance criteria. Experience with the creative design process, a systematic approach to solving problems and an exposure to other functional areas, such as marketing, finance and manufacturing can be obtained.

An alternate product engineering assignment would have the student responsible for the design intent of a product line in production. Here the co-op would focus on improvements in the product’s profitability and quality by implementing product revisions, innovative problem solving and minor product enhancements. Exposure should be obtained to the customer’s issues, as well as the manufacturing facility and personnel.

An assignment in controls engineering should have the student working on both hardware and software designs for automated equipment. They should be responsible for the start-up and debug of equipment they design, as well as offering process recommendations for the new equipment and support for existing equipment in production.


EGR 490 – The third assignment

Getting Started

By now it should be easy, but reference the previous sections and remember to include a new, or updated, assignment plan with learning objectives.


This is the last co-op term and begins the student’s senior year. Levels of responsibility should increase with the student working at the junior engineer level within your company by the end of the semester. The opportunity here could allow the student to specialize in an area of their interest (and company need) and take on projects of larger scope and responsibility.


Assignments that will expose the student to a variety of products, functions and locations, with a steep learning curve, are some of the key goals of the co-op work assignments. Some companies use many small duration projects that fit within a four month semester to build a co-op assignment. Some companies will work a student into a longer term project that will span multiple co-op terms. Other companies will rotate students through many parts of divisions of the company to give them a broad exposure. How you chose to structure co-op in your company will depend on you, your company’s needs and the student. You might end up with different approaches for different students. The overall guiding principle should be to make this a useful part of the student’s preparation to enter the engineering work force while engaging them in meaningful and useful work. And at a minimum, it’s a great interview process for potential full time hire of new engineering talent!

Sample Assignment Form

Click here to view a sample assignment form

(Sample Corporate Program(

Co-op Company Philosophy

 The Engineering Co-op Program provides the company and the student with the ability to contribute to the future successes of one another.

 Co-op Work Experience

The Engineering Co-op Educational Program is structured to provide the student with as much exposure to the corporation as possible while keeping in mind the student’s major field of study and career objectives.

The rotational assignments will give the student the opportunity to network among the company’s employees, vendors, customers, and other co-op students. Co-ops will gain an understanding of the organization’s different functions, as well as, the product development process, manufacturing processes, the company’s products/services, and the interrelationships of the respective departments.

Each work assignment will be relevant to the co-op’s development, and will be reflective of the tasks that engineers encounter at the company. Co-ops will be provided the opportunity to develop and demonstrate their initiative, judgment, leadership, interpersonal, and problem solving skills. Co-ops will also be given the opportunity to assume responsibility and accountability for planning and execution of assigned projects.

Learning Opportunities

For the Student

    · The opportunity to learn the operation of a world class corporation from the inside out.

    · A “real world,” productive, hands-on work experience designed to complement the student’s  academic program.

    · The opportunity to develop and achieve short-term and long-range career objectives.

    · A chance to meet students from other universities.

    · The opportunity to start building a network within and outside of the company.

For the Company

    · A source for a talented, diverse workforce.

    · An essential resource for generation of new concepts and fresh ideas.

    · A focused resource for projects and valuable productive work.

    · A rich source of technical talent for the future.

Work Assignments

An individual assignment plan is developed with each co-op to match the needs of the company and the individual department with the developing needs and capabilities of the co-op. Typically a new co-op will start with a Level 1 assignment to learn some of the basics about the company’s processes, materials, products and services. Level 2 assignments will follow to expose the co-op to a variety of relevant areas where they can apply their developing technical skills. Level 3 assignments will typically build upon the previous experiences as the co-op is completing their academic degree. Assignments that will expose the co-op to a variety of products, functions and locations, each with a steep learning curve, are some of the key goals.

Page last modified July 31, 2014