Co-op program celebrates golden anniversary

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This year marks the 50-year anniversary of the Cooperative Education Program in the College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering at Bowling Green State University. In 1968, the faculty and staff in the School of Technology began providing cooperative education work courses for students enrolled in programs leading to the Bachelor of Science in Technology degree.

In 1985, the School of Technology became the College of Technology and in 2013 the College of Technology was renamed the College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering. Successive changes over the last 50 years has shaped the college, while the co-op program has continuously advanced its theories and methods, and remained a staple and common thread among all college programs.

The BGSU mission is to prepare students for lifelong career growth and the College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering supports that mission by encouraging experiential learning opportunities through mandatory co-op requirements. The State of Ohio supports this mission as well through the Ohio Means Internships and Co-ops grant awarded to the University to increase internships and co-ops with the goal of retaining more workers in Ohio. This funding provides a partial wage and benefit subsidy to qualifying employers in Ohio who hire students for new or additional co-ops and internships.   

Furthermore, the Ohio Department of Education Choose Ohio First Program recently awarded the college a grant of over $750,000, which is funding for the Technology Works scholarship program. This program awards up to $5000, to Ohio students in the college who meet the scholarship requirements, including securing a co-op in the state of Ohio. All of these examples exemplify the overall support and importance of experiential learning, a foundation of the college since 1968.

“Our students complete an average of 500 cooperative education experiences every year,” assistant director of Cooperative Education Melissa Partin-Harding said. “These experiential learning opportunities link students to their professions, exposes them to professional job networks, enhances their academic experience and gives them a greater understanding of their industry as a whole.”

This unique imprint of a College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering graduate distinguishes them from other job-seeking candidates who have obtained similar degrees without experiential learning. Graduates gain up to one year of related work experience and often secure their first permanent job through a co-op experience.

We are proud that for 50 years, the Cooperative Education Program has been a long-standing foundation in the college, and ahead of its time in exemplifying experiential learning through co-op. We kicked off the Cooperative Education golden anniversary during Homecoming last year by asking students and alumni to share their “Co-op to Career” stories. The college is planning a yearlong celebration for co-op and would like to hear how students and alumni are putting their degrees to work, so please send your “Co-op to Career” story to us at coop@bgsu.edu.