James Clark

James Clark on a construction siteName/Major: James Clark, Civil Engineering

Year in School: 5th year senior, graduating December 2023

Co-op Employer(s): Caliber Contracting and Ulliman Schutte Construction 

How do you feel you have benefited from your experiential learning opportunity? I have learned what it is like working in the industry, I have gained the real-world experience that I am able to transfer to my classes which is helpful and makes them easier. 

What is your biggest takeaway from your rotations? I have found what I want to do. Engineering has many different disciplines and opportunities in it and co-op has allowed me to find what I truly enjoy. 

What advice would you give to other students? Take chances, don't be afraid to move across the country for a co-op. College is the only time you'll be able to do this easily to see if you like it. Take the chance with a company that intrigues you, even if it isn't the highest paying or in the geographic region you prefer. 

William L. Muckelroy III

william muckelroy head shotName/Major: William L. Muckelroy III, B.S. Computer Engineering

Year in School: Rising Junior

Co-op Employer(s): Tesla (Austin, TX 12 months), Google (Mountain View, CA 3 months), Amazon (Sunnyvale, CA 3 months)

How do you feel you have benefited from your experiential learning opportunity? The opportunity to work with these companies has benefited me in a profound way both educationally and personally. For example, my co-op/internship experience has gained me deep and meaningful connections with those in industry, taught me what I love (and maybe don't love) within my field, and it's truly challenged me in a meaningful way that I had not experienced previously in classes.

What is your biggest takeaway from your rotations? There is so much more to co-ops than the work and the pay. Part of it is the connections you make along the way. I've gained so many friends and mentors through my experience that I can confidently rely and lean on for years to come. Another important part is the opportunity for self-exploration. My experience had me traveling away from the east coast for the first time in my life. I had the opportunity to explore almost all of Texas and even California, meet new people, gain new perspectives, and grow as a person. My biggest takeaway is that there's so much more to life than school or work, it's the people we meet along the way (as cheesy as that may sound it's true!).

What advice would you give to other students? There are going to be people in your life whether it be family, friends, professors, faculty, etc who will always tell you what they think you should be doing. Whether it's what school to go to, what classes to take, what company to work for, or anything else in life, someone will always have an opinion. Don't let this confine you to a single subset of options when there are infinitely many possibilities. Sometimes it can be comforting to have everything laid out for you, but don't succumb or conform to these suggestions as that's all they are, suggestions. If there's something out there that you want, whether it's to study within a certain field, work at a certain company, or even start your own company, go ahead and try to do it. Learn to try and fail fast and to get back up even faster. Also, your education is more valuable than just a fun time, so put your all into your studies and absorb the information, as it may actually be useful in your career (even if it may not always seem like it). If you need to space out classes across more semesters, don't hesitate to. An extra year or two to graduate is nothing compared to the entire life and career ahead of you. Lastly, just be kind to everyone around you and don't lose yourself. You never know when someone you know or meet will be the gateway to your dream opportunity.  

Nikki Konley

nikki konley head shot

Name/Major: Nikki Konley, Industrial Engineering

Year in School: Senior

Co-op Employer(s): Curtiss-Wright EMD and Stores Consulting Group

How do you feel you have benefited from your experiential learning opportunity? I feel like the real work experience that I have gained from co-op has given me a better appreciation for the classes I am taking and shown me how to apply the skills learned in class to real world situations. It has also shown me what types of roles I would like in a career and things that are important to me in a work setting. These kinds of things are not something that can be taught in school, and I am glad to have had the opportunity to learn this before graduation.

What is your biggest takeaway from your rotations? My biggest takeaway is that while on co-op, the company wants to see what you can do for them, and you want to show yourself in the best way possible. Even if it may be intimidating at first, working hard and having confidence in your work can be rewarding. After putting a lot of time and effort into research for large project during my last rotation, I was able to lead the project and present my work to the Director of my department, an experience that I would not have imagined having while still a college student.

What advice would you give to other students? My advice to other students entering a co-op or internship would be to talk to as many people as possible. Even if they are not your mentor, they could still have a lot of helpful information and potentially teach you new skills. Additionally, meeting more people helps you to expand your network and learn about what other types of jobs may be out there for your major.

Logan Marsalko

logan marsalko head shot

Name/Major: Logan Marsalko, Bioengineering with Mechanical Engineering Minor

Year in School: Fourth Year

Co-op Employer(s):Human Engineering Research Laboratory (HERL)

How do you feel you have benefited from your experiential learning opportunity? My co-op experience has allowed me to have a better understanding of myself and my values. One of the most difficult aspects of college and growing up is answering the question, “What do I want to do for the rest of my life?” Since I started college, my answer to this question has changed more times than I can count. However, my co-op has given me clarity in discovering what it is I value within a job. Along with this, my position has also allowed me to further hone my skills towards my interests, providing me with a better idea of what I want to do in the future.

What is your biggest takeaway from your rotations? My biggest takeaway from my co-op is learning to be comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. Putting yourself in uncomfortable situations is necessary for growth and learning more about yourself. Everything is not meant to be easy, but figuring out your interests and what you are capable of at a young age is an important start to a successful future.

What advice would you give to other students? From a young age, I was always told that everything happens for a reason. Last summer, I applied to countless positions around the country and didn’t receive a single offer letter. Rather than getting down on myself, I told myself that it wasn’t meant to be and used it as a learning experience. I worked even harder throughout the past year to give myself a better chance at finding an opportunity. Now, I couldn’t be happier with the experiences I have had and how my co-op has turned out.

Chris Kefalos

Chris Kefalos in front of curtiss wright signName/Major: Chris Kefalos, Electrical Engineering

Year in School: Senior, graduating Spring 2024

Co-op Employer(s): Curtiss Wright 

How do you feel you have benefited from your experiential learning opportunity? Participating in the co-op program at Curtiss-Wright has been a tremendous experience, enriching me both professionally and personally. During my three rotations, I was able to contribute to unique projects while putting into practice the breadth of concepts I have learned throughout my academic journey. With each proceeding rotation, I observed significant growth in my technical abilities and even in my self-assurance, progressively earning greater responsibilities with each assignment. For me, the opportunity to work alongside experienced professionals emphasized the significance of teamwork and professional communication.

What is your biggest takeaway from your rotations? The biggest thing I took away from my rotations was how much I've grown in just a total of just one year in the program. Moving through three rotations, I could see my skills and confidence getting stronger with every new project. Getting my hands on real projects also gave me insights and practical knowledge that just can't be obtained without experience.

What advice would you give to other students? To future students interested in the co-op program, I would suggest approaching each rotation with an open mindset, eager to learn from every project and interaction. At times a project may appear daunting, so do not hesitate to ask questions. No matter where your co-op rotation is, you will always be surrounded by professionals who can help you (or the rare occasion when they can’t, then it is an even greater learning experience.) Your experience should be a bridge between theory and practice, make your energy count through learning as much as possible.

Max Harris

Max Harris in front of johnson and johnson signName/Major: Max Harris, Chemical Engineering

Year in School: 5th Year, Graduating in December 2023

Co-op Employer(s):Ethicon (Johnson & Johnson MedTech)

How do you feel you have benefited from your experiential learning opportunity? My co-op experience has given me industry experience and taught me what an engineering working environment was like. In addition, it has given me perspective on what I want to do for a living after my graduation. These are things that can't really be taught in a classroom and are just as valuable. 

What is your biggest takeaway from your rotations? My biggest takeaway from my co-op was learning how to step outside my comfort zone. Being asked to solve complex problems is sometimes uncomfortable, but it helps you step out of your comfort zone. Navigating through stressful situations and finding causes of and solutions to problems leads to a tremendous amount of professional and personal growth. It's never easy being in these situations, but your employer is evaluating how you perform in these situations, so it's important to make good impressions whenever possible. After completing several projects, my confidence grew, allowing me to work through even more complex projects.

What advice would you give to other students? Don't be afraid to ask questions. Your employer is there to help you and wants to put you in the best position to succeed. As a result, it is better to seek help rather than get stuck trying to figure something out on your own. At any company you work at, there will likely be people with decades of experience in that industry. Trying to work with them and ask them questions as much as possible is extremely valuable. Also, try to work on projects that aren't necessarily directly in your department. Having the opportunity to meet different people and learn about different areas of the facility is extremely valuable.

Ryan Alston

Ryan Alston on site at his co-op in protective lab gearName/Major: Ryan Alston

Year in School: Senior

Co-op Employer(s):Redzone Robotics and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

How do you feel you have benefited from your experiential learning opportunity? My co-op opportunity has allowed me to gain valuable hands-on experience and get a taste of what it is like to work in industry.

What is your biggest takeaway from your rotations? My biggest takeaway would be how willing everyone was to help me when needed, including my mentors and managers.

What advice would you give to other students? My advice to other students is to go into your co-op open minded. You are not expected to know everything. Ask good questions and learn as much as you can during your time there.

Andrew Zilavy

Andrew Zilavy in a lab using equipmentName/Major: Andrew Zilavy Material Science and Engineering

Year in School: 5th Year senior, graduating December 2023

Co-op Employer(s):The Timken Company

How do you feel you have benefited from your experiential learning opportunity? I was able to apply the theoretical knowledge I gained in my academic studies to real-world situations, enhancing my practical understanding of the subject matter.

What is your biggest takeaway from your rotations? My biggest takeaway is a heightened sense of confidence in my chosen career direction. I've gained hands-on experience that has solidified my passion and affirmed my professional path in material science and engineering.

What advice would you give to other students? Don't be afraid to take risks. Embrace the unfamiliar tasks and projects that may come your way. Don't fear making mistakes because they can become valuable learning experiences that contribute to your personal and professional development.