Pitt | Swanson Engineering

Welcome to Co-Op

"Our mission is to provide our students and employer partners individualized opportunities to enhance success and opportunity in the workplace environment through relevant and challenging assignments that will result in the graduation of excellent engineers and scientists."

There aren't many opportunities that can boast the advantages that cooperative education can offer. What other program can offer you the chance to learn, earn, and graduate with a higher starting salary, while maintaining status as a full-time undergraduate or graduate student?

The University of Pittsburgh is steeped in history and tradition, and our cooperative education program is no exception. Founded as the third co-op program in the nation, Pitt's co-op program flourished until the Great Depression caused its suspension in the early 1930s. In 1987, under the tutelage of Dean Charles Sorber, the program was re-established for undergraduates. Today, almost half of Pitt's graduating seniors participate in cooperative education.

We have also expanded to allow participation from Pitt students in science-related fields, and we offer the co-op opportunity to all of our regional campuses in engineering and engineering technology. Recently, we implemented a co-op initiative for graduate level engineering candidates.

Co-op offers students the chance to obtain a full year's worth of work experience prior to graduation.

Gian-Gabriel Garcia named National Intern Student of the Year! 


Pitt Co-op's are again being recognized nationally!  Gian-Gabriel Garcia, our Co-op Student of the Year, won the 2014 National Intern of the Year Award through the Cooperative and Experiential Education Division of the American Society of Engineering Education.  Gian completed three terms of co-op with Universal Electric, but also interned during the summer of 2014 with Eaton in Horseheads, NY. It was for a combination of his work experiences and contributions to the university that brought this honor to Gian. Gian was presented with his award in February 2015 at the Conference for Industry and Education Collaboration that was held in Palm Springs, California.  

"I first chose to attend Pitt with intentions of transferring to Carnegie Mellon University. However, by the time I finished my first semester, I enjoyed my experience so much that I had no desire to transfer. I quickly found that at Pitt, I had many opportunities to become involved on campus while growing my skills as a budding engineer. One opportunity that has made a lasting impact on my undergraduate experience is the co-op program.

I spent my three co-op rotations at Universal Electric Corporation (UEC), a small privately-owned company in Canonsburg, PA that manufactures customizable power-distribution equipment. My first major contribution was in helping to develop UEC's first-ever training programs, enabling UEC to achieve its goals in work standardization and quality management. With a formal training program in place, new production employees will enter the manufacturing floor with baseline knowledge, reducing their dependence on others to do their job. My second major contribution was in helping to develop a tool management program for three departments resulting in $100,000 annual savings in labor cost. More importantly, by developing an organized tool management system, I was able to reduce frustration in workers who needed to search for the tools they need to perform their jobs. My co-op experience allowed me to draw the connections between the concepts I learned in class and their applications to real-world engineering problems.

Aside from participating in the co-op program, I took advantage of many opportunities to become involved in the Industrial Engineering (IE) Department and in student organizations. In the IE Department, I performed research for 3 years and was an undergraduate teaching assistant for 2 separate courses. I also took part in many of the department's networking and social events like the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE) Annual Student Chapter Night and Student-Faculty Dodgeball Game.

On campus, I was a member and student leader in many organizations focused on mentoring and supporting freshman engineers and underrepresented students in engineering. These organizations include Pitt EXCEL, the Freshman Engineering Leadership Team, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and the National Society of Black Engineers.

Beginning in the fall of 2015, I hope to begin a PhD program in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research. After receiving a PhD, I want to be a university professor so I can have the opportunity to be engaged as a researcher, educator, and mentor. I hope to take part in addressing many open-ended global problems, especially in healthcare, while continuing my efforts to inspire young minorities to become interested and excited about STEM." 

"In all cases, Gian was able to leverage the people to get the updates required for him to complete his assignment. It is rare to see that someone so young is able to develop relationships and get assistance from people who have their own responsibilities and deadlines.  The other area of responsibility within Gian's internship involved the processing of returned material from our customers. While he was here, Gian worked on (6) failure analysis which was above the agreed upon initial goal of (2). In the process of doing these analysis, Gian took initiative and created a visual basic tool that would further streamline the analysis process after he left. This was completely unexpected and since his departure has continued to add value to my quality organization in streamlining the process. Another area where Gian went above and beyond was his involvement in a kaizen event to re-layout the RMA area. Gian took on a leadership role and drove completion of all of the improvement actions. Normally this would not fall within the scope of an interns responsibilities, however, Gian seemed genuinely enthusiastic about his ownership in the process and asked to drive it to completion.  In conclusion, I am happy to report that Gian completely exceeded expectations by going beyond the agreed upon goals and has had a lasting impact upon my location.  I'd therefore consider him an excellent intern of the year award that he is being nominated for." Steve Mayo, Quality Engineer with Eaton


Co-op Student of the Year Finalist:

Oren S. Lawit, Chemical Engineering, Exxon Mobil


Co-op Student of the Year Honorable Mentions:

Molly C. Finn, Bioengineering, Bayer Consumer Healthcare

Shane P. Kelleher, Mechanical Engineering, Mine Safety Appliances

Aaron M. Lenzi, Mechanical Engineering, Vocollect by Honeywell

Alexander R. Sieman, Electrical Engineering, General Electric Energy Management, Inc.

Michael A. Sivak, Civil Engineering, Mascaro Construction



Westinghouse named 2014 Co-op Employer of the Year


Joe Kennedy, Director of Talent Sourcing, accepts the Employer of the Year award from Gerald D. Holder, PhD, US Steel Dean of Engineering.

Our first co-op began with Westinghouse in the Fall of 1998.  Since then, 82 students have accepted co-op positions with Westinghouse, spanning several degree areas.  Many have gone to work full time with Westinghouse.  Westinghouse was chosen for the sustainability and true partnership they have shared with the University of Pittsburgh.  Another is the true commitment they have made to our program.  They continually stay true to the co-op concept for all of those students they have hired.  Our students enjoy meaningful work and thrive professionally.  Westinghouse has also been a strong partner not just to co-op , but to the entire Swanson School of Engineering.  

Each year the Cooperative Education Program solicits nominations for Outstanding Co-op Employer from faculty and students. 


Co-op and Study Abroad --- You Can Make It Happen




  • 96% retention rate to graduation
  • You will most likely see an increase in your grades; last year's co-op graduates boasted a 3.22 average GPA!
  • Co-op graduates average almost $4,000 more in a starting salary than non-participants
  • Most students complete the program and graduate in 4 ½ years
  • Academic credit is earned and official transcripts are certified with co-op participation
  • All co-op positions are paid
  • Each student has a faculty co-op advisor

You Own Your Future! And BEST of ALL: It's easy!   

The staff of the co-op office maintains an open door policy each day. We offer resume assistance, mock interviews, and individual job development. Our goal is to help you find your path to future success. Our students work locally, nationally, and even internationally.



Where Pitt co-ops work!

This map shows the location of Co-Op student employers. You can interact with the map to zoom in and out, and move left to right, to view regional and national employer locations.


Co-op Recognition Dinner*

Friday, December 11, 2015

Pittsburgh Athletic Association

*for students who have completed their rotations


Annual Spring Co-op Job Fair Tuesday, February 16, 2016 William Pitt Union 10:00am - 2:00pm