Co-op, intern programs get $800,000 boost from state


When Matthew Crowder graduated from The University of Akron in May 2013, he joined The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. as a mechanical engineer. Crowder received his job offer during the fall semester of his senior year, after he completed a cooperative education, or co-op, position with the rubber industry giant. 

That’s not unusual. UA’s strong co-op and internship program helps hundreds of students graduate career-ready and with attractive job offers.

Now, UA’s co-op and internship programs will be strengthened further with a $799,286 grant announced today by the Ohio Board of Regents as part of the Ohio Means Internships and Co-ops (OMIC) program.

The award to UA is the third largest of 25 granted statewide. It will be matched with funds from key industries and other donations to create new or to expand existing applied-experience opportunities for students.

Experience gained

At UA, the grant will be used to provide additional funding to employers offering new co-op positions and to enable small and startup businesses to provide students with co-ops at competitive salaries.

“Co-op experience is key to our students’ success after graduation,” says Deanna Dunn, director of cooperative education and placement, who adds that 60 percent of engineering students receive job offers from their co-op employers.  

Working hand-in-hand with the UA College of Engineering’s 100-year-old co-op program, which placed more than 900 students in positions in 2013, the University’s Career Center is implementing a placement model that underscores co-op experience for students.

“We’ve had significant movement in job placement with students taking advantage of relevant learning opportunities,” says Christina Ross, director of UA’s Career Advantage Network, noting that her department has seen a marked influx in student job placement over the past year. “Programs that have been able to implement a formal co-op program within their curriculum will see even more students graduate with jobs.”

More opportunities in more majors

Already, the Department of Applied Mathematics has identified 10 students in its accelerated BS/MS program for co-op positions spanning over summer and fall 2014, and it plans to offer the opportunity in future years.

Applied mathematics students have developed marketable skills by their junior year, says Professor of Mathematics Gerald Young. That’s the right time for them to join companies as co-ops.

“With their applied mathematics degrees and their breadth of knowledge, our students are going into a variety of professions -- as actuaries or retirement planners for financial companies, in information technology, in scientific computation companies,” Young says. “The whole idea with co-ops is to give them a chance to get their feet wet in terms of what an employer would expect from them and, likewise, employers have an opportunity to test out a student ahead of time, before they make an offer. Everybody wins.”

The new grant also will allow UA to build interview/Skype/presentation rooms and to hire additional career and co-op staff members. The “infrastructure” enhancement will better help students prepare for and secure co-op and internship positions. For example, the College of Business Administration, a partner in the grant, will develop a specific job fair for employers and students to make connections regarding internships and career-related part-time employment.

“We are offering workshops for students, helping them negotiate job offers, giving them insight into what the job market looks like and most importantly, facilitating opportunities for experience outside of the classroom. You’ve got to be that total package,” says Ross, adding that companies that recruit students for co-op positions often peg them for full-time entry level positions and fast track them up their corporate ladders.

'Intensive' learning experiences

Professor of Political Science and Acting Assistant Dean Bill Lyons, who helped develop UA’s proposal for the funding, says cooperative education represents a perfect fit for UA students.

“From my perspective, in the College of Arts and Sciences, this is a great opportunity for us, especially as part of a major university that is so STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) focused and emphasizes applied learning experiences,” Lyons says. “The state grant provides departments with an opportunity to embed co-ops into their curriculum to make learning experiences more intensive for students.”

Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies in the College of Engineering Donald Visco adds that use of the well-established co-op employer network in engineering was an important component of the proposal. Companies in the network will look to students in various disciplines in JobsOhio Key Industries for co-op positions.

“From our first OMIC grant we were able to have several companies that traditionally took only engineering co-ops, expand into other areas such as biology, finance and technology,” Visco says. “That was an important outcome of the program. We look to expand on that with the second round of OMIC funding.”

The new funding follows a $932,571 grant UA received in 2012 for expansion of internship and co-ops programs.

Media contact: Denise Henry, 330-972-6477 or

Matthew Crowder

Matthew Crowder