New Engineering Co-op Program

by Andrew McKenzie—Cedarville, Ohio

Offering an education that prepares students for the real world has always been a top priority for Cedarville University. In the fall of 2006, Cedarville enhanced the preparation it offers with an engineering co-op program. The program provides a professional, hands-on employment experience to engineering and computer science students—and can often help students secure a job—before graduation. In addition, participating in the co-op program can give students additional income to help pay for their education.

Cedarville senior Peter Gohdes, a mechanical engineering student from Wausau, Wisconsin, was the first student to participate in the program. Gohdes worked with the Logistics Support Management Group, a growing private and military contractor that is developing a new process that consolidates R&D, engineering, manufacturing, and materials testing in a centralized location. LSMG’s Springfield, Ohio, testing facility—which is designed to create and test tougher, thinner, lighter metals—is the first of its kind in the United States and one of only three like it worldwide.

While at LSMG, Gohdes wrote a 2-D numerical heat transfer program that can be used to give estimates for the amount of time it takes a billet of material to reach a uniform internal temperature when subjected to an external temperature change. He presented his work at two of the company’s board meetings and was heavily involved in the testing of aircraft aluminum and the reduction of that data. “The experience allowed me to greatly improve my verbal and writing skills while allowing me to affirm much of the engineering curriculum that I have learned over the past four years,” Gohdes says. “It taught me how to function in an engineering work environment, which will benefit me whether or not I chose to remain as an employee with LSMG.”

He added that the experience complemented his Cedarville education. “The engineering thought process, which has been developed through the courses I have taken at Cedarville, is what I have really used and gained experience in while working. Having this opportunity will place me much further ahead in the search for a job. Employers look for individuals who have had co-op experience because they often have the equivalent of a year or two of experience over other graduates.”

Gohdes learned about the co-op opportunity with the help of Lew Gibbs, director of career services at the University. “Employers recognize the character and the preparedness of graduates,” explains Gibbs. “They want to hire people they can rely on, not just someone to show up for forty hours a week. Cedarville students project the depth of education and character building that goes on at Cedarville.”

Cedarville’s co-op program comes in both full-time and part-time varieties, allowing students to tailor their experience to best match their time constraints and financial needs.