Pitt | Swanson Engineering
Cooperative Education

Cooperative Education, aka Co-op, is the single best educational experience an undergraduate can have. Co-op is a unique opportunity for undergraduate students to connect directly with industry for “real-world” experience in bioengineering. By complementing and expanding upon the classroom curriculum, Co-op enriches the undergraduate experience. The Department highly encourages all undergraduates, including transfer students, regardless of future career aspirations (industry, graduate school, medical school, etc) to participate in Co-op. Experience gained through the program will pay dividends in future endeavors, whatever they may be.

Some of the reasons to participate in Co-op include:

  • Gain practical experience with engineering tools and equipment used in bioengineering practice.
  • Gain experience and knowledge that will help you make a more informed decision about your post-graduation plans (industry, graduate school, health-related professions). Do you really want to ...?
  • Gain maturity that appeals to those who control your entry into industry, graduate school, or a health- related profession.
  • Improve post-graduation placement prospects, regardless of intended destination.
  • Due to salaries earned during Co-op cycles, many students can forgo part-time employment while on school rotations, providing more time to devote to academics or extracurricular activities.
  • Grade point averages increase significantly for over two-thirds of Co-op participants.
  • Academic credit. Co-op participants register for the 1-credit ENGR 1090 for each rotation. Satisfactory completion of three ENGR 1090 rotations can be used as a technical elective. See COOPERATIVE EDUCATION in the BioE UG Guidebook for details.

Process
Students typically spend three rotations of four months each (a semester) employed by one of the participating Co-op companies. Students gain appreciation for the application of their academic skills in solution of real-world problems and greater understanding in their field of interest. The Co-op experience is a mutually beneficial undertaking between the Co-op employer and the student. Hence, students typically start the Co-op experience anytime between completion of the Spring Semester, Sophomore year (when students have gained sufficient engineering skills to offer the Co-op employer) and the start of Fall Semester, Senior year (when the required two- semester senior design sequence commences).

       NOTE: The process for Bioengineering students differs slightly from that in the Co-op Office brochure.

  1. Register with the CO-OP PROGRAM.
           NOTE: YOU DO NOT NEED TO HAVE AN "APPROVED CO-OP SCHEDULE" to register or search for a position.
           Co-op schedules are individually tailored to the student, depending upon which semester one starts and the rotation cycle (three Co-op semesters in a row, alternating Co-op/school semesters, or some other sequence).
           See POSSIBLE BioE CO-OP SCHEDULES for ideas on how you can structure your co-op experience.
           BIOENGINEERING WILL PROVIDE AN APPROVED SCHEDULE ONLY AFTER YOU HAVE A CO-OP OFFER.
  2. Start searching for a position.
           Your responsibility.
           The Co-op Office can help, but do not expect them to do all the work.
  3. Notify both the Co-op Office AND your Undergraduate Coordinator when you have an offer.
           Your Undergraduate Coordinator will prepare an individualized (and approved) co-op schedule based upon your educational process and the semesters you will co-op.
  4. The Co-op Office will register you for ENGR 1090 for each semester that you co-op.
  5. Inform the Co-op Office and your Undergraduate Coordinator immediately about any changes to your co-op plans.

The wonderful staff in Co-op Program office work individually with each student applicant to provide resume and interviewing assistance, as well as specialized job development. When requested, the Co-op Program office will help find a suitable Co-op position, which can be local, national, or even international in location. Bioengineering students work with the Bioengineering Undergraduate Coordinator upon receipt of an offer from a participating co-op employer to develop a personalized Co-op rotation/academic schedule (see previous link) to assure timely progression to graduation. The Co-op program has the support of key University offices including registration, financial aid, and housing.

Interested students should explore opportunities with the Co-op Program staff. Follow up by discussing your interests with your advisor and the Bioengineering Undergraduate Coordinator.