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.

                             Visit our new co-op page on the Engineering Library website:

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 Fall Co-op Job Fair Tuesday, September 27, 2016 William Pitt Union 10:00am - 2:00pm