Beyond the Classroom
Learning Through Experience
Civil engineering students at UE gain real world experience through co-op programs that not only provide experience, but also give our students a leg up for better jobs and higher salaries after graduation.
Civil engineering majors are encouraged to participate in cooperative education (co-op) program. Students benefit by not only receiving a B.S.C.E. degree in five years, but also a minimum of three additional terms of experience as a civil engineer. About 20 percent of civil engineering students participate in the co-op program.
The real value of the co-op program is the experience that it provides. A co-op job can be a financial benefit, but the net income from one term at work does not typically cover the cost of one term in education. The co-op program gives employers an opportunity to look at a student as a prospective employee without making a commitment to long-term employment. Likewise, the co-op program gives the student a chance to look at a company and gain some experience before entering the work force.
Co-op students normally get a higher salary offer upon graduation than non co-op students. In many cases the co-op employer provides a long-term employment opportunity for the co-op student upon graduation.
The typical co-op student goes to school the first two years just as his or her fellow students. At the end of the sophomore year the student begins their co-op period and works through the summer. The student returns to school in the fall, but works in the spring. Thereafter, the student alternates between work and school.
|1||School 1||School 2||Work Option|
|2||School 3||School 4||Work 1|
|3||School 5||Work 2||School 6|
|4||Work 3||School 7||Work 4|
|5||School 8||School 9|
Co-op students have a wide range of employers to choose from. Employers are located in the immediate Evansville area, in the surrounding region of Indiana, Kentucky and Illinois and at various places throughout the country. Some of the companies who have provided a co-op are listed below:
- Indiana DOT
- Traylor Brothers
- Burns and McDonnell Engineering
- Davis Heavy Construction
- Bernardin Lochmueller and Assoc
- Morley and Associates, Inc.
- CIVES Steel Company
- U.S. Navy
- R.W. Armstrong
- Patriot Engineering
- Shewmaker Environmental
- City of Evansville
- Koester Contracting
- City of Indianapolis
For more information about the University's Cooperative Education Program, please visit the University of Evansville Center for Career Development.
Students can benefit from semester-long, full-time professional work experiences through internships. Internship placements are set up through CE faculty or the Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education.
When Gulzat Atymtayeva visited Chicago in the summer of 2010, she took an architectural tour of the city’s downtown that would come to shape her passions and her career path. “The structural diversity of the high-rise buildings and the type of materials used left quite a memorable impression on me,” said Atymtayeva, a civil engineering major from Kazakhstan. “Earthquake engineering is a major part of structural engineering, and expertise in that area can help protect communities from the effects of natural disasters, such as the devastating earthquakes we’ve seen recently in Haiti and Japan.” Intrigued by the field of earthquake engineering, Atymtayeva applied for the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center (PEER)’s highly selective Summer Internship Program in 2011. Nationwide, she was one of 11 undergraduates selected for the program and the first University of Evansville student ever to attend.
With the theme “Engineering Earthquake Resilient Communities,” the program gave undergraduates the chance to participate in state-of-the-art research with a faculty advisor and a graduate student mentor. During the program, which ran from June 13-August 19, 2011, students learned how to conduct independent research and how to participate effectively as a member of a research team.
Atymtayeva said her University of Evansville courses provided an excellent foundation for a successful internship. “The core engineering classes I took prior to my internship served as a basis for understanding the earthquake mechanisms sought by a research professor,” she said. “Structural analysis, steel design, civil engineering materials, environmental engineering — all of these classes helped me communicate with the research group on the same level and contribute as much as I could.”
PEER interns were placed at one of three partnering universities: University of California Davis, University of Washington, and University of California Berkeley. The students worked to complete projects related to the seismic resiliency of infrastructure, ports, levees, and urban buildings. Atymtayeva worked with graduate students and the structural engineering faculty at the University of Washington to investigate concrete-filled steel columns, which are widely used in Asia because of their high earthquake resiliency, ductility, and fire resistance. Although the concrete-filled steel tubes serve as a viable alternative to traditional reinforced concrete columns, Atymtayeva said that designing connections for such strong columns is challenging. PEER interns were required to complete a technical report, poster, and three presentations about their research. In addition to her engineering knowledge, Atymtayeva relied on the technical writing and presentation skills she honed at UE. “Our professors incorporate presentations as well as research papers into the class schedule,” she said. “As a result, students graduate not only with excellent engineering expertise but also with great communication skills.”
As a result of her experience at the PEER Summer Internship Program, Atymtayeva plans to attend graduate school to further her knowledge of structural and earthquake engineering. “Research conducted by engineers can be applied in creating tools that help prevent the disastrous outcomes of natural forces, as well as assist society in making a quick recovery if such an event takes place,” Atymtayeva said. “After witnessing the aftermath of the recent devastating earthquakes, I feel that being a part of a research team will allow me to help make a difference in the prevention of catastrophic outcomes.”
Watch the YouTube Video (courtesy of the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center).