AU Office of Cooperative Education joins College of Engineering

By Cassie Montgomery

Published: Mar 17, 2021 9:52:00 AM

The Auburn University Office of Cooperative Education has joined the Engineering Office of Career Development and Corporate Relations. The Auburn University Office of Cooperative Education has joined the Engineering Office of Career Development and Corporate Relations.

More than 90% of all Auburn University students who complete a co-op position are pursuing their degree in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. In order to better serve these students, the Office of Cooperative Education has joined the Engineering Office of Career Development and Corporate Relations (CDCR) in the Brown-Kopel Center. The merger firmly establishes three distinct teams within the CDCR infrastructure: corporate relations, cooperative education, and student career development and coaching. 

“The cooperative education team is a welcome addition to the College of Engineering, and we remain committed to continuing to serve our students, and the entire campus community, through their co-op expertise,” said Christopher B. Roberts, dean of engineering. “Our Office of Career Development and Corporate Relations has been a vital force in connecting our students with employers and equipping them with the skills they need to be successful in the workplace. I look forward to seeing how this dedicated team continues to serve our students in the future.” 

The cooperative education team serves an average of 450 students per year, representing all engineering disciplines plus students in the McWhorter School of Building Science and the Harbert College of Business. In the fall of 2019, approximately one-third of engineering graduates completed at least one co-op during their time at Auburn, while nearly 40% had completed at least one internship. 

According to Charlie Wilder, associate director for cooperative education, data shows that 97% of the students who co-op have a positive career outcome within six months of graduation. 

“It’s much easier for students to find employment if they have experiential learning through a co-op, internship or research experience,” said Ed Lewis, senior advisor to the dean in the College of Engineering. “We think it’s critical that engineering students are engaged with the CDCR office.” 

Co-ops and internships provide students with valuable industry experience. Whereas internships typically last a single semester, co-ops are three semesters of alternating work terms. For example, a student may work full time for a co-op employer in the fall, come back to Auburn for school in the spring and then head back to work in the summer. 

“The big difference between co-ops and internships is the students’ opportunity to build a skillset and gain up to one year of experience within the workplace,” Wilder said. “After their first work term, they start adding value back to the workplace, so our co-op employers really rely on them. Toward their third work term end, these students are functioning like full-time engineers in the workplace, so when they graduate, they’re ready to hit the ground running.” 

The cooperative education program at Auburn dates back to 1937 and boasts many alumni who credit their co-op experience with jumpstarting their careers. 

“There are many, many proud alumni out there who want to see the program continue to succeed, and because of this move over to engineering, I think the future of the program looks really bright and will continue to be successful,” Wilder said.

Media Contact: Cassie Montgomery, cmontgomery@auburn.edu, 334.844.3668

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