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.

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.
  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.