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If You Can Dream It, You Can Build It: Where A Passion For Engineering Led Joe Gibson

Joe Gibson graduated from Grand Valley in 2015 with a degree in computer engineering and has a bright future to look forward to.

The cooperative engineering education Joe received allowed him to alternate semesters of work experience with semesters of classwork. This program provided him and other students with as many as 2,000 hours of field experience.

In February, Gibson received the Cooperative Education Student of the Year Award from the American Society for Engineering Education. He has completed co-op work at L-3 Communications in Grand Rapids, the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, and most recently at CERN, home of the world’s largest particle physics lab in Switzerland.

Joe first became interested in engineering during high school. “I used to write a lot of computer programs. It was something I was really interested in. I also participated in FIRST Robotics.”

FIRST Robotics is a nationwide, intensive engineering program where high school students form teams, fundraise, and build robots during a limited time frame. They are exposed to advanced computer software and hardware and learn how to work together. Joe was awarded engineering scholarships from Grand Valley due to his involvement in FIRST Robotics.

Joe’s most memorable experience was his co-op opportunity with NASA. “At NASA, most things were an “ah-ha moment”. I got to meet Buzz Aldrin and other science celebrities. I worked alongside astrophysicists, and was able to interact with people that I could only dream of standing next to. They shared their knowledge with me, and beyond a doubt, I learned more in this co-op program than I would have in just a traditional classroom setting.”

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without the co-op program. It’s so different from anything else you can find. Other universities offer co-op programs, but Grand Valley's is one-of-a-kind. The engineering program, above all other programs, helps shape people’s lives. There are so many applications for engineering from biomedical [work] to cell phones, and everything in between. When donors give financial help so that people like myself can go to school it's huge.” Joe’s scholarships and co-op experiences allowed him the career-changing opportunity to work with NASA.

Joe applied to graduate schools and has already been approached with several open positions in engineering and computer science companies. “Grand Valley definitely set me up for success by providing me all the tools I needed. And who can say that they have NASA experience on their resume? I can’t thank Grand Valley’s engineering program and all who support it enough for launching me into success. I am on my way!”