I am a senior in civil engineering. Over the spring and summer of 2017, I was in Groton, Connecticut working for General Dynamics Electric Boat (EB) on submarines. Being a co-op student is different from being an intern. You are given much more responsibility. I was fortunate enough to be given my own projects. I was able to do real problem solving inside of one of the world’s most complex machines. I was able to learn new skills like FEA before it was introduced in any of my classes. The senior engineers would willingly provide support anytime I needed it, no matter how long it took.
At EB, I was a structural engineer responsible for determining the structural adequacy of foundations in the submarine. One of my favorite experiences while working at the shipyard was the opportunity to walk around a submarine before it was delivered to the Navy. My most rewarding experience was selling my designs to the U. S. Navy without any issues. Working for EB required me to obtain a security clearance that I can use for other jobs that may require one.
I started my co-op rotations at Stantec when I was a sophomore. Working at Stantec in North Dakota during the oil boom was an interesting experience. I was given a truck, an apartment, and a food stipend while I worked in the field. I worked long hours to complete a highway project before the ground froze. I was exposed to more than just the inspection position as a co-op. I was able to learn about all the roles involved with highway construction and introduced to different possibilities I could explore after graduating.
I believe I had two great co-op experiences that encompassed a lot of what civil engineering has to offer. I was able to work in an office and in field settings doing two completely different jobs. I learned how important continuous learning is to being a good engineer. Being a co-op in civil engineering at CSU is uncommon and sets a student with one apart from their peers. Having a co-op is the greatest college experience I could have ever hoped for.