Decades before Einstein, Herman Schneider, Dean of Engineering at the University of Cincinnati (UC), believed that to educate a student to become an engineer, that student must have an opportunity to practice being an engineer. Thus, in 1906 he arranged for engineering students to alternate periods of study and periods of paid work in their field of engineering. A fundamental premise of Schneider's concept was a form of ongoing collaboration between university and industry which includes components of academic education and real-world work experience...or, Cooperative Education (co-op). The first co-op class as UC had 27 students who earned wages of 8-10 cents an hour. Students and employers found this cooperative approach to be so beneficial that by 1908, the program at UC had 2000 applicants. The success of the UC program spread rapidly, and today many well-regarded engineering schools have robust Cooperative Education programs.
The Ingram School of Engineering is incorporating practical work experience into its curriculum in the form of our Co-ops4Cats program which enables integration of classroom instruction with practical and valuable on-the-job work experience. Our flexible program allows alternating periods of work and school, typically beginning in the junior year of study. At the end of the approximately five years, the "co-op" student is usually ahead of the "regular" student in that you not only have a degree, but you've accumulated approximately 12 months of work experience in your area of professional interest and will often have a full-time job offer from your co-op employer.