Co-op Student Resources

On This Page:

  • Steps to Obtaining a Co-op
  • Co-op Course Requirements
  • EGR Student Co-op Experiences
  • List of Co-op Employers

For questions related to the academic or workplace component of the co-op program, including academic requirements/milestones, individualized educational plan, and on-site co-op visitation by a faculty co-op advisor, please contact:

Diane LaFreniere                                     
James R. Sebastian Chair
Engineering Educational Development, Assessment/Accreditation and Co-op Education
Phone: (616) 331-6017
Email: lafrenid@gvsu.edu


How to Obtain a Co-op

Step 1: Apply for Secondary Admission to the School of Engineering

Application for Secondary Admission
Prior to participating in the co-op program, students must first apply for secondary admission to the GVSU School of Engineering. The secondary admission process consists of completing an online application form, which includes a review of academic background and past involvement in work experiences and other activities.  The final component of the application package is a review of corporate employer feedback on the practice interview forms to assess preparedness for the co-op job search and interview process.
Note: A student must have an overall grade point average of 2.70 or above and a 'C' or better in all foundation courses (with only one repeat) in order to gain secondary admission to the School of Engineering. Learn more about secondary admission


Engineering Professionalism (EGR 289)
The application process, including preparation and participation in employer practice interviews, is coordinated through the Engineering Professionalism course (EGR289). EGR 289 introduces potential engineering cooperative education students to the industrial environment and the basic principles of leadership. This course helps students develop a better self-awareness through self-assessment and career development theory and prepares students for the co-op interview process. The student is exposed to simulated interviews, as well as practice interviews with corporate employers.  This process helps to build confidence and preparedness for the job search process.
IMPORTANT: Students need to plan to schedule for EGR 289 enrollment in the fall semester prior to the summer targeted for the first co-op semester.  Those students who will not complete their foundation coursework prior to the summer targeted for Co-op I should not enroll in EGR 289 until the following year.


Practice Interviews
Practice interviews are conducted by industry volunteers and are a required part of EGR 289. Each student completes a final resume and at least one simulated interview to prepare for the industry interview. The instructor and corporate representatives provide feedback and critique the students on how well they interview. The professional input received from the course instructor and corporate representative provide the student with a chance to see areas of improvement before scheduling co-op interviews. During the practice interviews, the Career Services engineering liaisons and staff provide each corporate interviewer with a feedback form for each student. These forms are kept in the student's co-op file and made available to the faculty in the secondary admission process. The aim of this process is to assist the student in developing the necessary confidence and assertiveness to be successful in the co-op job search and interview process.

Step 2: Secure a Co-op Position

Once a student is admitted into the School of Engineering, the corporate search begins for co-op employment. The Career Center engineering liaison, Chris Babbitt, will assist the students in finding co-op employment, but the student is ultimately responsible for securing the co-op position. The student must take the initiative to lead the job search and locate a co-op position. A student is required to secure a co-op position prior to being granted full secondary admission status, which allows the student to take Upper Division (Junior and Senior-level) undergraduate courses.

If the student would like to co-op for a company that is currently not on the co-op employer pre-approved list, it is the student’s responsibility to contact Chris Babbitt at the Career Center to discuss this matter.  He will initiate correspondence with the employer regarding the co-op program requirements.

Step 3: Complete a Co-op Confirmation Form

An online co-op confirmation form must be completed when employment is secured, or by the end of the first week of the academic semester, at the latest.  To complete, go to the Co-op website.

Login using the information used to login to Kennedy Hall computer labs.

This form will require information about your workplace, including your supervisor's contact information, so be sure to have this information when completing the form.  Note, if the supervisor contact changes during the co-op rotation, please contact Diane LaFreniere, Sebastian Chair, at lafrenid@gvsu.edu to update.

Step 4: Confirm the Co-op Position with GVSU

Once a student secures a co-op position, a co-op agreement form must be filled out prior to beginning each co-op semester. The co-op agreement form can be found by clicking below.

NOTE: The employer and student employer forms must be submitted in an electronic format (PDF) to Diane LaFreniere, Sebastian Chair, at lafrenid@gvsu.edu, immediately upon securing employment, or by the semester start date, at the latest.

Step 5:  Report Any Extenuating Circumstances
All students are expected to complete 500 hours of work during the academic semester.  Work that does not coincide with the academic semester, which the student is enrolled in a co-op course, may not be applied toward the work hour requirement.  Course time conflicts or other extenuating circumstances (i.e. medical leave of absence) that interfere with the scheduled work hours from 8:00 to 3:50 p.m. or the approved plan of study will not be approved, unless an extenuating circumstance warrants such enrollment.  In such cases, the following protocol (order for approval) applies for obtaining the signatures necessary for consideration of a co-op time conflict:

  1. Academic Advisor
  2. Sebastian Chair/Co-op Administrator
  3. Faculty Member of Conflicting Course
  4. Employer (*)

 (*) Note:  Academic time conflicts are rarely approved by the Academic Advisor and Sebastian Chair. Further note, time conflicts and other extenuating circumstances will not be approved in cases where the employer is contacted regarding the conflict, prior to receiving the necessary academic signatures.
 
Before signing a time conflict form, the academic advisor will confirm that there are no available alternatives that will not interfere with the scheduled co-op work hours, and the Sebastian Chair will confirm that the supervisor approves of the proposed time conflict.

Step 6:  Attend Mandatory Co-op Start-Up Meeting

All students are expected to attend the mandatory co-op start-up meeting, prior to enrollment in EGR 290.  This meeting is generally held in late March or early April to discuss the academic and professional components of the online co-op course.  A meeting invitation will be received from the Sebastian Chair, Diane LaFreniere, to notify regarding the date/time of the meeting. Note, the academic requirements include downloadable modules and online quizzes, as well as the submission of the student/employer agreement, student/employer assessment, and Experience Matters summary.  The professional component requires students to complete 500 hours of work during the academic semester.  Any work outside the semester of academic enrollment is not considered toward the 500-hour requirement unless an approved extenuating agreement is on file in the student records.

Step 7:  Register for EGR 290 Co-op I Course

All students must be granted a pending admittance to register for EGR 290.  Students are not academically eligible to register for other upper-division courses until all foundation coursework is complete, and the program has granted full admittance into the upper-division.  The secondary admittance review/approval process takes place at the end of the semester, following the submission of student grades to the Banner system. Once reviewed/approved a letter of full-admittance or denial is received.  If the letter indicates full admittance, the student has the ability to immediately register for upper-division courses.  Registration should take place as soon as possible to ensure section/course availability.  If a denial letter is received, the student is advised to seek program advising to meet the secondary admittance requirements and reapply for secondary admission when eligible to do so (any semester, prior to final grade submission).  Note, students are only able to enroll in one evening (4:00 pm or later) EGR or CIS course when enrolled in a co-op work semester. 


Co-op Course Requirements

During each co-op semester, the student must be signed up for the corresponding co-op course. The following descriptions contain the general co-op program description and requirements for each course. IMPORTANT: Students should consult the Blackboard site for specific requirements and due dates for each semester of co-op.

EGR 290 (Co-op I)

The first co-op rotation allows the student to be immersed into an engineering role within a company. The student learns how a company is structured, how engineering fits into the company, and how things get done in the "real world". Typical tasks include: entering engineering changes into prints (to learn the product line), working on the floor (to learn how a product is produced), completing a short term design project (to gain experience in getting things done in a plant).

While working in industry, the student must be concurrently enrolled in EGR 290. The student has academic requirements that include maintaining a work journal with reflections on the workplace experiences (keeping in mind some items are confidential or proprietary to an organization and therefore should not be described in detail in the journal).  The curriculum also includes academic modules/quizzes on professionalism, engineering ethics, project management, engineering economics, reading assignments, report writing based upon required reading assignments, writing a co-op experience summary, and completing an end-of-semester evaluation of the co-op experience.

EGR 390 (Co-op II)

During the second co-op rotation, the student has successfully completed one co-op rotation and has worked in an engineering capacity within a co-op company. The student has also taken a full semester of engineering coursework related to their major (Biomedical, Computer, Electrical, Interdisciplinary, Mechanical, or Product Design & Manufacturing). The projects or work assigned should be more progressively more challenging and should involve more increased responsibility in alignment with the company's observation of the student's ability to assume that responsibility.

The academic component of Engineering Co-op II concurrently engages the student in academic material with an increasing level of difficulty during the second workplace rotation, and prepares the student for the professional knowledge and skills related to engineering technical communications, particularly technical proposals.  During this semester, students are immersed in more challenging experiential learning in an industrial/professional environment, in addition to online academic instruction, specifically developed to meet the needs of engineering professionals. The writing intensive academic content associated with the second co-op semester focuses explicitly on developing written communication in the context of engineering technical communications, preparing students to communicate professionally and effectively in an engineering workplace.

The academic component of the Engineering Co-op II course is centered on a series of technical writing exercises.  Writing assignments include a preliminary and final presentation that provides an overview of the proposed project; an engineering pre-proposal memo and two drafts of a final formal technical engineering proposal.  Ideally, the technical proposals will be based on projected engineering projects with a feasible, supervisor-approved workplace implementation.  In addition to the writing skills component of the course, which involves technical proposal development, two learning modules will be reviewed to gain an understanding of the examples and discussion regarding various types of written technical communication.

EGR 490 (Co-op III)

This is the last co-op semester for the student, which coincides with the beginning of the student's senior year. Increased levels of responsibility should be expected and the student should be working at a level that is commensurate of a junior engineer by the end of the term.

During this semester, the student has academic requirements that include keeping a work journal detailing the student's reflections of workplace experiences (keeping in mind some items are confidential or proprietary to an organization and therefore should not be described in detail in the journal).  The curriculum also includes reading assignments, academic modules/quizzes related to engineering ethics, project management, and engineering economics, report writing based upon required reading assignments, writing a co-op experience summary, and completing an end-of-semester evaluation of the co-op experience that semester.

Overall

An individual educational assignment plan is developed with each co-op student to match the corporate and departmental needs with the developing needs and capabilities of the student. Typically, a new co-op will start with a Level I (EGR 290) assignment to learn some of the basics about the company’s processes, materials, products and services. Level II (EGR 390) assignments will follow to expose the co-op to a variety of relevant areas where they can apply their developing technical and professional skills and learn to integrate an intense professional and academic workload to gain an overall accountability for both. The Level III (EGR 490) assignments will typically build upon the previous experiences, as the co-op is completing their academic degree. Workplace assignments will expose the co-op to a variety of products, functions and locations, each with a steep learning curve. Typical assignments are commensurate with those of a post-graduate, entry-level engineer and typically include engineering design.


EGR WORK AND STUDY ABROAD EXPERIENCES

For information related to work and study abroad experiences offered at GVSU, please refer to the following link:


Study & Work Abroad Programs

 

Any student who is interested in a work and study abroad experience should plan early and contact the Assistant Dean, Padnos College of Engineering and Computing, Casey Thelenwood, thelecas@gvsu.edu, to discuss available options.

EGR Student Co-op Experiences

For examples of typical co-op experiences, refer to the GVSU Experience Matters website. This site documents student experiences on internship and co-ops throughout the university. Simply identify the major you would like to review experiences for and the site will provide a variety of engineering examples (Biomedical, Computer, Electrical, Mechanical, or Product Design & Manufacturing Engineering).


List of Co-op Employers

For a complete list of current and potential co-op employers that GVSU works with, please contact:           

Chris Babbitt
Assistant Director
Phone: (616) 331-6708 
Email: babbitc1@gvsu.edu