Cooperative Education (CO-OP)
Cooperative Education (CO-OP) is an experiential learning program for students of the School of Engineering and Computer Science. Students, usually of junior standing, immerse themselves in the workforce of a corporation or public agency. There, they practice and grow their engineering and computer science skills. They also learn the soft skills they need to have in order to thrive in a corporate environment.
The seven-month long CO-OP gives students the opportunity to dig into projects and see them through to a hand-off and they also get to experience a diversity of activities from field work to lab work to office work. The companies they work for get valuable contributions as the result of the skilled work of the students. Companies have come to realize that CO-OP's are extended interviews and help build a pool of strong future professional employees. It is a win-win proposition.
Fast Facts about CO-OP
Pacific's engineering and computer science students receive many benefits from the CO-OP program, including:
- The faculty like this program, most for its effect in helping students relate theory to practice. This learning-by-doing increases comprehension and retention.
- Students appreciate the income, which averages $2500 - $3000 per month, helping to defray their education costs upon returning to campus.
- Students talk much more about how much it helps them to secure permanent employment upon graduation. Nearly every graduating senior reports either, "Yes," or "Maybe" when asked if they could secure an offer of permanent employment with their former co-op employer. We would guess that nearly all would say, "Yes," except that many are planning to pursue their masters first and thus do not know yet.
- Another major benefit is helping students choose and confirm their major and concentration. Engineering and computer science are such stealth professions that most students going to college do not really know very much about it. Co-op helps them to learn firsthand what their chosen major is, how well they do in it, and how much they like it. Afterwards, they can change their major if they wish, possibly not losing very much time towards their graduation.
Other notable benefits include:
- Exposure to cutting-edge developments within their majors.
- Increased professional, people, communication, ethical and critical thinking skills.
- Greater motivation to persevere through their remaining upper-division courses.
The CO-OP Program also just helps to ease the transition from student to working professional.