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Engineering: Current Undergraduate Students

Co-op Experiences: Page 3

Our students are highly encouraged to participate in an internship and/or co-op experiences, allowing them to learn more about a specific area of engineering with practicing engineers on real-world projects. Many of these positions lead to full-time employment after graduation.

  • Internships are typically a summer only experience, and if they are local, there is potential for the student to continue working part-time through the school year.
  • Co-ops require a semester or a semester and a summer away from campus. Students maintain full-time student status while on co-op, and resume their studies when they return to campus. Intern and co-op students may also be able to receive academic credit through their department.

Andrew Ruskamp

JR, Electrical Engineering
Co-op: Lincoln Electric System (LES), Lincoln, NE

From the start of my co-op, my supervisor told me he wanted to get me exposed to a variety of different projects and areas of engineering. One project I worked on involved looking through several wiring prints for a substation and making the necessary changes to match the retrofitting that will be done at that substation. I also went to one of the generating stations and assisted in performing plant maintenance by checking relay and circuit breaker functionality.

As an Electrical Engineering major, the experience and knowledge that I am gaining through my co-op is invaluable. It allows me to apply and expand upon what I have learned in class. One of the biggest driving forces behind my wanting to participate in a co-op was to determine which area of Electrical Engineering I would like to go into. If I do decide that this is what I want for my career, I will have the experience to put myself a step above the other applicants.

First of all, a co-op is a great experience! I recommend that every student looks into taking a co-op. It is a great way to get an extended work experience and earn some money to pay for school. I know it delays your graduation a semester but it is worth it to gain the real-world experience. If you receive a co-op make sure you take every task you are given seriously.

SUPERVISOR: 2005 UNL grad - Electrical Engineering

The co-op program is extremely beneficial to my organization. The eight-month time period really gives the student a chance to get acclimated to the company. We are able to give them longer projects that not only provide a huge benefit to us, but also to the student. We do not even consider summer internships simply because the time frame is too short to be beneficial to either party. It is also a great opportunity for us to scout future talent. As we face an aging workforce, we need to be on the outlook for talent, and the co-op program is the absolute best way to do this. It is an eight month “interview.”

Ryan Schrack

SR, Chemical Engineering
Co-op: ExxonMobil / Baytown, Texas

Analyzed technical and economic feasibility of a common, large scale chemical product based on bio-methods of creation. Determined future markets and value of isobutanol. Evaluated butanol as new blend stock, as opposed to ethanol. Simulated and improved energy efficiency of two future processes using Pro II (Chemical Engineering Flow sheet Simulator).

The work I was given at Exxon was very similar to what I believed a chemical engineer would do. This experience has given me the opportunity to compare different jobs in the chemical engineering field and see all the opportunities in one company alone. It has helped me refine my ideas of what I want to do.

My main advice would definitely be to get involved during your co-op. Try and meet as many people as you can, and learn about them and their jobs. Volunteer with some of your extra time through the company. All these things will help you to network, gain better personal skills, and have a more enjoyable experience overall.


Co-op assignments are truly a “win-win” for the company and the student. It gives the company an opportunity to see how a future candidate contributes in specific roles, and of course allows the student to gain valuable professional experience. Particularly if a student does all three co-op assignments with the same company, working in three different areas, both the company and the student have a good idea of how the student’s interests and capabilities match with the company’s objectives and career opportunities. When a company hires a co-op student, they in effect hire someone with 1-2 years of directly applicable engineering experience, enabling more rapid assimilation and contribution. Our company has had great success with its co-op program over the years.