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.

Nathan Smialek named Co-op Student of the Year! 

Smialek pic

In recognition of his accomplishments during a four-semester rotation at Philips Respironics, Nathan Smialek was selected to be the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering Co-op Student of the Year. Mr. Smialek, a native of Girard, Pa., will receive his bachelor’s degree in bioengineering in the spring of 2016.Among his activities, Mr. Smialek is University Innovation Fellow; a member of the U.S. delegation to Vice Premier Liu at Intel U.S.-China International Maker competition ceremony; and served as President of Engineers for Sustainable Medical Development (ESMD) for which his design team developed an optical coherence tomography (OCT) microscopy mount used in pediatric procedures. The device, for which they filed a provisional patent application, is a mechanical mounting system that allows a surgeon to utilize an OCT microscope while attempting surgery to restore sight in pediatric patients.  The device was used clinically in multiple surgeries. Mr. Smialek stated, “Working alongside industry professionals and actively participating in the development of medical products was the most valuable experience of my undergraduate career.  My time at Pitt has been defined by rigorous academics with the co-op program providing a complementary opportunity to extend my skills acquired as part of my education.”

Co-op Student of the Year Finalists

Morgan A. Skapik

Metallurgy and Materials Engineer

PCC Airfoils

Stephanie Fee Jin Lee

Mechanical Engineer

Eaton Corporation


Co-op Student of the Year Honorable Mentions

Renee M. Corbett—Civil Engineer – Langan Engineering

Andrew J. Pouleson—Computer Engineer – Rockwell Automation

Alexander G. Horn—Chemical Engineer – Air Products

Eric P. Walker—Electrical Engineer – Mine Safety Appliances

Sheridan Zivanovich—Computer Science - ANSYS

John A. Pidgeon—Industrial Engineer – Connors Group

James R. Brucker—Industrial Engineer – Fed Ex Ground


Robinson Fans, Inc. and Zoll LifeVest named 2015 Co-op Employers of the Year

 Robinson Fans                                                                                           

Tom Kuli, Chief Engineer, Robinson Fans, Inc. and Dr. Gerald H. Holder, US Steel Dean of Engineering  

Zoll 2015

Dr. Gerald H. Holder and Shane Volpe, Manager of Embedded Systems Development, Zoll LifeVest

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

Our previous Employer of the Year awards went to the following companies:

1991 Delphi Packard Electrical Corporation/GM

1992 Pennsylvania Department of Transportation

1993 J&L Specialty Steel

1994 US Airways

1995 Nova Chemical Corporation

1996 Eaton/Cutler-Hammer

1997 Bayer Corporation

1998 Westinghouse Electric Company, EMD

1999 ANSYS Incorporated

2000 United Parcel Service

2001 AK Steel

2002 Mine Safety Appliances Company

2003 H.B. Maynard

2004 American Bridge Corporation

2005 Dupont Chemical Solutions Enterprise

2006 Valspar

2007 Medrad

2008 FedEx Ground

2009 Advanced Integration Group, Inc.

2010 Vocollect, Inc.

2011 FirstEnergy Corporation

2012 Siemens Energy

2013 Eaton

2014 Westinghouse

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.

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