Note: No matter how often I check, external links throughout this site go bad. People just seem to have a fetish about changing their server name from Server12 to Sygg44$inc. Wonderful. Please contact me at with the page and link if you find dead links to information in which you are interested, and I will try and find out where it went to. Thanks. Lowery@tamu.edu
For companies interested in setting up a co-op program for their company:
The Co-op program is basically divided into two groups. First, those who administer, set up, and run the university program. In Engineering, that is Brad Collet, firstname.lastname@example.org, 979-845-7725 or 979-862-2509. You should contact him about setting up a program up, and to answer any questions regarding its operation once in place.
On the other side, I take care
of announcing such opportunities to our students, watch over them while they are
on the job, grade their report papers, give them a grade, keep in contact with
you, etc. So after
you touch base with Brad, he lets me know that he sold you on the idea, and to
pull the trigger. He also announces such opportunities to our students.
Once in place I also email all of our students letting them know that the position is
For students interested in the co-op program:
Click here for the Co-op syllabus and general information regarding reports, etc.
Click here for general co-op information.
The Civil Engineering Department at Texas A&M University has an ongoing co-op program where the student works for an engineering company during two or three semesters, while registered for one hour per semester of ENGR 385 (a total of 2 to 3 credit hours, one per semester.) The CE program is administered by Dr. Lee L. Lowery, Jr., Room 705c in the CE/TTI building, phone 979-845-4395, email: Lowery@tamu.edu.
Details on the benefits of the co-op program, what you must do to co-op, dates for initial meetings, companies listed in the co-op program, amounts paid, and everything else you could possibly wish to know about the program are listed at the co-op web site. Details of internships, a completely different program are listed here.
Co-op orientation meeting dates are shown on the above page, towards the bottom by clicking on "Co-op Orientation". All students considering the co-op program must first attend an orientation session where they answer any and all questions, including how much you can expect to make, how many semesters you must participate, etc. For additional information you can also email Mr. Brad Collet at email@example.com (979-845-5139) or Mr. David McMahon at firstname.lastname@example.org (same telephone number). They are our representatives with the University Co-op office.
After attending an orientation meeting, you will register and fill in a list of courses required for graduation. You then bring this list to my office for my signature. Its main purpose is to make sure you understand that co-op may delay your graduation, and to make sure that you don't think those co-op hours can be substituted for any other hours in your degree program. In general, they cannot. If you co-op, you must do so because you want the experience which will be invaluable when looking for a job upon graduation, or because you just want a break from school and want to go see what you will be doing the rest of your life, or you need the money, or ... One thing is pretty sure, you will make some extremely valuable contacts within your co-op company, and they almost always offer you a position upon graduation.
There are many advantages to the co-op program, including the money made, the excellent engineering experience gained, and the fact that you see how the material we are trying to teach you is actually being used in industry. Co-op students invariably have a greater appreciation of their course work after returning from co-op assignments, and make much better grades as a result. It has also been our experience that co-op students average about $1500/year better job offers upon graduation. The down side is that it delays your graduation, and some students are not well suited to breaking into their study routine every semester or so, leaving the university environment. Average salary for CE students during their first co-op term (2002) was $2780/month, with higher averages in succeeding semesters.
At the current time there are co-op job offers available, so you should have an reasonable choice in selecting where you wish to co-op. Civil Engineering co-op students should have a GPR of 2.5 or above, and have completed their first three semester's courses. These suggestions are not rigidly enforced because you may well make an excellent employee even if you don't have these courses or grades. However, it is our experience that if you don't have a 2.5 GPR you probably haven't really gotten serious about your education, and we're not sure you should be out representing A&M and being serious about the job. So we ask that if you do not have a 2.5, come talk with us and let's see what your real commitment is. The reason for asking that you finish your lower courses is that the more you have learned to do, the more valuable you will be to your employer. Again, we are flexible here, but you should come by and convince us that if you haven't had these classes you can still contribute to the company. In any case, you must ethically talk with your potential employer if you do not strictly meet these guidelines, and explain why you think it will be in both their and your best interest to employ you.
Once at your co-op job you will be expected to contact me two or more times a month by email, to keep me informed on how you are doing, what you are doing, and to let me know how you are coming along on your required paper. It is CRITICAL that you keep records of what you are doing during any kind of employment, either co-op, internship, or after you graduate, since that highly influences whether the Board of Registration thinks you have enough experience to sit for the FE/PE exams. You will put yourself at a tremendous disadvantage if you do not keep careful and complete records of any and all professional experience. Click here for a typical record sheet that you should fill out weekly. It will make all the difference in the world. I constantly hear from graduates asking me if I remember who their co-op was with, and what they did, and do I have a copy of their 4 year old report they submitted to me. Yes I do, but I know they are going to have a tough time remembering all the engineering work they did that long ago.
You can find general guidelines on what types of term papers are acceptable and other requirements here. Guidelines on technical writing can be found here. You are also welcome to drop by and view (not copy) other reports that students have written to get a feel for how they should be written, length, etc. You can set up a time to see me in my office at http://lowery.tamu.edu/officehours. Your co-op report may be either a research or a work experience paper.
If you choose a research paper topic it must be related to your major, but does not have to be directly related to your Co-op assignment. Typical research papers deal with things you worked with on the job. For example, if your company has a new method of applying asphalt on roads, or a new patent on concrete forms, those would be a natural for your paper. The company has an interest in letting people know about its use, and would probably love for you write a paper about it. On the other hand, if you worked all semester installing tanks, write a work experience paper. A work experience paper should be an in-depth study and analysis of your Co-op job experience, or some aspect of your experience. Did you install tanks all semester? Write about what tanks are used for, why they must be carefully installed, what problems are normally encountered, etc.
If you choose to write a work experience report, it must be a quality report of approximately 5-10 pages. If this is your first work term, the report should cover the following:
If this is your second or third Co-op assignment, your paper should represent an extension of the first work term report. Identify a particular organization function or activity to describe and analyze. Demonstrate an in-depth study on a topic aligned with your academic studies and/or work assignments. Consult with your supervisor regarding suggestions for a topic and for assistance in acquiring necessary information.
Finally, DO NOT wait until the last second and then have to pay $20 to overnight your report to me. See here for an example of a waste of money. I would much rather have you email me and request an extension and get it a few days late than to see you blow $20 on something I won't have time to grade for a week anyway. Send it by regular U.S. snail mail only, and IN NO CASE send me your original copy. Send me a copy only. That way if it gets lost in the mail you won't have to start from scratch. We have had several instances of the "only original wonderful complete fantastic co-op report" being lost in the mail.
Far better and much preferred would be to email everything including your evaluations and your report to me. That is the way the world is going and you might as well get used to it. If at all possible, write your report using Word or Word Perfect. Get your boss to show you where the scanner is, then scan in your figures, or draw your figures with AutoCAD. Then import them into your document. If your company isn't able to transfer documents electronically, then they are getting so far behind they may not be there for your next co-op semester. Help them out. Talk them into letting you buy them a $50 scanner and attach it to their computer. Show them how to use this technology. Get them to buy a copy of Adobe Acrobat to make pdf files from scanned pages. They will love you for it. (This must have been written 20 years ago. No company still in business is without this ability.)
If you have any questions please contact me at Lowery@tamu.edu.
Differences Between Internships and Co-op
When students intern, we don't really know what they are doing. The company may have them running a Xerox all summer long. We also have no way to verify that they got any real engineering experience during their employment. Thus at graduation a company looking at the student's resume takes somewhat of a chance as to their work experience. The student who interns is not registered as an A&M student during this time. They are pretty much on their own, although we are always available to help them and they are welcome to contact us for assistance. This may be a problem if you are counting on being on your parent's insurance, since many insurance companies won't cover you when you are not a full time student. If you co-op, you register for a one hour co-op class and are still considered a full-time student.
When a student co-ops, the University signs a formal agreement with the company. In this case the company agrees to a specified engineering experience content, and to be mentored by an engineer. Thus at graduation an interviewing company can be assured that the student got some serious engineering experience. It might actually be no more than would have been obtained by interning, but it is guaranteed under co-op. The student remains a full-time student registered for 1 hour of co-op during this time. During a co-op period a Civil Engineering professor keeps tabs on the student, and helps them as needed. The student writes a final formal report which is graded
A company can hire their sons or daughters either as interns, or as co-op students. If they hire them as interns, no formal agreement is necessary. If they would like to hire them through the co-op program, they would have to see what is required by the co-op office and sign an agreement with them. They are permitted to hire them to the exclusion of other students.
Companies can find much of the necessary information for this procedure at:
Click at the top on Employers. It gives detailed information regarding what co-op is, how to develop a corporate co-op program, average salaries, etc.
If you get an offer, be sure whether they are offering you a co-op or an internship. Information for both are listed above, but you donít register for classes at A&M for an internship. However, very important, if you intern during a regular semester, you have to make sure you can be re-admitted to A&M at the end of the internship. If you intern during the summer semester, you donít have to worry about that. You should contact Dr. Brumbelow KBrumbelow@civil.tamu.edu to help you with the question of re-admittance. Unless you are on probation, you will probably be approved. Otherwise, you might decide not to intern during the fall or spring semesters.
a) Co-op Office Website Evaluation Forms:
http://careercenter.tamu.edu/docs/employereval.pdf The form you need to evaluate your co-op employer
http://careercenter.tamu.edu/docs/studenteval.pdf The form they use to evaluate you.
b) The Co-op Office Website (where you will probably get trapped):
Cooperative Education is a supervised, academic program for qualified students that formally integrates semesters of academic study with multiple semesters of paid, full-time work experience while retaining full-time student status.
Advantages/disadvantages to retaining full-time student status:
c) Answers to miscellaneous questions asked by my co-op/intern students:
i) Dear Dr. Lowery,
I just wanted to verify the way we are supposed to turn in our report. Correct me if I'm wrong: we are able to email you the report in order to turn it in on time April 20th
>> Yes. Email will be fine and is preferred, and it is not late as long as you let me know when I can expect it, within reason.
>> An email copy of everything you are sending is fine, or if you can't get it into an electronic version, you can mail it. However, I would rather receive it late rather than receive some package that you spent $20 overnighting to me. The due date is flexible. If you pay more than US Postage to get it to me, I'll take off points.
ii) Is an emailed PDF version and a hard copy by mail both required?
>> No. Either are acceptable, email is preferred.
iii) I wanted to verify that the following list of items is all that we have to turn in to you:
Co-op Report (signed by our supervisor)
Co-op Evaluation filled out by us (work experience evaluation)
Employer Assessmentof Academic Preparation (filled out by our supervisorof Academic Preparation (filled out by our supervisor
Letter of Transmittal
>> Looks complete to me.
And if we do have to send a letter of transmittal what is the format you prefer, or can we use the format that our company uses?
>> Your choice.
Also another question, what is the required number of sources and also book sources for our report. I have seen two different numbers on a couple of websites.
>> Either is fine since I didn't know you had to use some number of references anyway. If you are doing a work study report, it might not have any references at all.
Sorry to bombard you with the questions, but I really appreciate the clarifications.
>> : )
iv) Hello Dr. Lowery,
My friend in the Mays business school has gotten college credit for having his internship over the summer. I was wondering if the Civil Department had a program like that because I am starting my second term with Cole Engineering based out of St. Louis, and have kept an activity log throughout the duration.
>>Sorry, but no. Some departments require that their students co-op and/or intern as part of their degree plan, and hence they get credit for it. Rather than taking 128 hours to graduate, they may be required to take 131, of which 3 are co-op or internship hours. Since Civil Engineering students are not required to co-op or intern as part of their degree, there is no credit for them. Had you decided to co-op with them, you could have taken up to 3 hours (1 hour per semester) of ENGR 385, co-op, and gotten hours credit then. However, those hours would still not substitute for any of the other classes you have to take. You would still need to complete the same required 128 hours with or without co-op. You cannot substitute them for, say, CVEN 444 and 446.
I am interning for a construction company this summer. Today, they approached me about the idea of continuing to work after the summer as a co-op. I do not know much about doing a co-op program through A&M. I looked online and it said that you were the Civil adviser for the program. Therefore, I'm emailing you looking for more information.
Thank you for you time,
Joe: Yes, I understand that the co-op is very similar, but I think it may be a good idea for my future in my career and for finding a job out of college.
L: I certainly agree. It is a great idea. You have probably already read the advantages and disadvantages between the two on my website.
Joe: I looked on the website that you sent me. It says that
I must attend an orientation meeting. I looked online but I could not find a
time for when there is one available. Also, since I work every weekday, it may
be hard for me to attend one.
L: Click on the link http://careercenter.tamu.edu/Sign-In.aspx?returnurl=%2fResources%2fInternships%2c-Externships-Co-op%2fCooperative-Education-(Co-op) to sign in (top secret things in here I guess), click on Current Students at the top left, go down and Click on ďFocus (Co-op)Ē, click on ďLearn how to participateĒ, go down to the middle and click on ďCo-op OrientationĒ, click on ďsteps to Co-op and it will tell you how to schedule an appointment by calling 979-845-5139. I think they will work with you over the phone if you are already working out of town.
Joe: I know that it is a little late in the game to be
trying to set up a co-op through A&M, so I'm curious as to if there is enough
time to do it for this upcoming semester or if it would have to be something
that I could get set up for the following semester (spring semester).
L: I donít think it is ever really too late. They usually find a way to get you in, even quire late.
Joe: Also, would the company (Granite Construction) need to
do anything also?
L: If they offered you a co-op, they are probably already registered to do that, so no, nothing else except call (979-845-5139) or email Mr. Collet to coordinate your coming. If not yet registered, instructions for you to give them are listed at http://ceprofs.tamu.edu/llowery/Things/engr385/385.htm That tells them who to call to set up co-op positions between their company and A&M.
Joe: The co-op web site link on the website you sent me
does not work either.
L: Yea, they change it like they change their socks, why, I have no idea. Here is the new one, and corrected on my web site:
L: Most certainly. I look forward to working with you on this.
Joe: Thank you,
You will have to talk with financial services about your tuition. You would drop any classes you have registered for the fall, and sign up for one hour of co-op ENGR 385-505 with me listed on the section. To be eligible for co-op you have to first go to one of their meetings. To satisfy this see http://Lowery.tamu.edu/Things/engr385/385.htm
sure they are offering you a co-op rather than an internship.
Information for both are listed at the URL above, but you donít register
at A&M for an internship. If you
intern during a regular semester, you have to make sure you can be re-admitted
at the end of the internship. If
you intern during the summer semester, you donít.
See the above URL for a discussion of co-op vs. internships, and
readmission after interning during a fall or spring semester
Good luck and let me know how this turns out. I really think a co-op experience is worthwhile.
From: Alyssa Kieschnick [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2016 10:33 AM
To: Lowery Jr, Lee L <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Civil Interns
Hi Dr. Lowery,
We are looking for two civil interns for the year. Will you have the students send me their schedule, unofficial transcript and resume if they are interested? They will be working in the College Station office for a minimum of 12 hours a week.
Alyssa S. Kieschnick, PHR |
Director of Human Resources
Gessner Engineering, LLC
2501 Ashford Drive
College Station, Texas 77840
Civil | Structural | Geotechnical | Land Surveying | Construction Materials Testing
Sent: Wednesday, August 17, 2016 12:49 PM
To: Lowery Jr, Lee L <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Re: FW: Civil Interns with Gessner Engineering,
Hi, I'd like to apply as a civil engineering intern for
Gessner Engineering. Attached is my resume, Fall 2016 schedule for A&M and my
transcript. Since this will be my first semester at the university I don't
really have any grades from the university so have uploaded the most recent
transcript I have which I used to transfer here.
I have read over your documents and understand that you are new to A&M. Iím sure you understand that the company will in all likelihood be inclined to hire someone with a longer track record and has taken more CE courses. This would let you help with more problems without guidance from their other employees.
That is by no means saying they donít expect and look forward to helping whoever they hire to solve new and complex problems. But they would much prefer to hire someone who is already able to solve for reactions on a simply supported uniformly loaded beam (CVEN 221, a course you will take this coming semester).
I still recommend that you apply for the position, since you never know who they might hire. Read the email below on how to apply. But please donít be disappointed should they not select you at this stage of your career. Keep on trying as you develop your courses and grades at A&M.
Please contact me if you have any questions on this, and I truly wish you good luck,
My name is Joe and I am a civil engineering student. Over the last summer I had an internship with a civil firm. I know some majors get credit hours for internships and I was wondering if that is available for civil majors too. I asked my advisor but he didn't know. If there are any credits I can receive please let me know.
Some majors add a couple of required hours for an internship in their program, which is why those students get that credit after they intern.
CE does not require an internship, although doing one certainly adds to your resume and your chances of future employment, but not towards your required 128 hours for a degree.
Even if you co-op, you have to do it because you want the experience and the money and the probability that the firm almost always makes you an offer after graduation. You still need 128 hours of coursework for a degree.
On your comments: ďI recommend the option for co-op students to bypass writing the paper if the employer allows it. It is difficult to find the time to write a 10 page paper working 60 plus hours a week.Ē
Thatís not an option, it is a co-op requirement. We want you to get experience writing reports, and yes it is difficult, which is why the more we make you do of it the better you get at this critical aspect of your skills set.
The following is not a trivial task but it is critical that you do it and take it seriously:
You should keep a daily log of what you did, day by day, in a spiral notebook. You should also take extensive photos of your job sites and of plans and specs you worked on and save them in a separate directory on your phone. Check with your boss and make sure this is OK, telling them it is for your final report.
You should keep a detailed list of who you worked for, who you worked with, who you met from other companies, people at other firms you worked with, etc. You should keep their full names, complete addresses, email addresses, complete contact information, titles, job responsibilities, etc. Also keep detailed information on why/how/how well you know them and the nature of your interactions. This will prove invaluable when you are desperately trying to remember people and especially registered professional engineers to recommend you when you go for your Professional Engineering License. Keep in close touch with these people. They are part of your family of people who helped you get where you are today.
Email them year or so and see how they are doing and what they are working on now. Ask them for help whenever the need arises. For example: "Don: I remember you told me about a computer program that made notes and sketches on pdf files for emailing. Do you remember what that was? Also, thanks again for the help on the Missouri City tower collapse. I still owe you on that."
This is NOT sucking up. This is using your friends to keep in touch.
Then towards the end of the semester you should have had no problem writing a 10 page summary of what you did, what you learned, how you were impressed with your work and your employer, what you found missing in the co-op experience, etc. I promise that at the end of the semester you will find it takes about an hour at most to put together a 20 page document which you will then have to go in and delete a bunch of things just to get it down to 10 pages, especially when you include the photos you took of your assignments, copies of plans you drew up, what you learned about how to read them, meaning of engineering terms for which you had no clue what they meant when you first came in (what is a corbel, anyway?), things you had to explain to the client about details and why they were done the way they were, and so on.
Also hang onto it to show potential employers about your report writing skills.
P.S. After writing the above I got around to reading your co-op report and wrote a note on it. "If it was hard and kept you up at night and you hated it, thatís tough buddy. Thatís exactly why you will be twice as valuable than your non-co-op buddies" and: ďEXCELLENT PAPER! One of the best I have seen in quite a while. Well written, complete, thoughtful, structured, informative.