April 2006 MECOP internship: Josh Vail working on programming an optical measurement machine.
The Multiple Engineering Cooperative Program (MECOP) at Oregon Institute of Technology demonstrates the power of an effective business/education partnership.
The source of strength for the program is the imaginative ideas they are founded upon: support by a voluntary annual assessment on member companies; a high order of industry interaction with the higher education systems and its students; and continual improvement as the educational institution adjusts its curriculum on recommendations made by the industry partners.
Five-Year Degree/Two Six-Month Internships
Much discussion has evolved around the inability of major universities to provide an adequate education in engineering in a four-year program. Economic limitations hinder their ability to keep up with state-of-the-art technology. With this in mind, we feel we are providing the best of both worlds the University for the technical/theoretical background, and selected industries for the practical, state-of-the-art applications. Our goal is to supply the Northwest with the best engineers with the necessary tools to be true contributors in their chosen fields.
Each company appoints a representative to serve on the MECOP Advisory Board. The board serves a vital role for the program. The board members develop, help manage, and actively participate in all program activities. These activities include but are not limited to curriculum development, financial support, student selection, development of internship sites, placement of students into internships, and promotion of MECOP.
The Program Coordinator, Prof. Brian Moravec, is responsible for the implementation and administration of the program. It is a full-time position supported by the MECOP Board. This method insures accountability to both industry and Oregon Tech, and promotes a balance between the two interests.
Each Full Board member pays a fee to the program, depending on the size of the company. This amount is determined by the board, and the funds are used to support the Program Coordinators position, along with administrative and other expenses which are incurred in cooperative programs of this nature.
Students are selected into the program through two screening processes. First, they are screened academically in their sophomore year. This is primarily an effort to ensure that students are academically qualified to take upper-division courses. A second screening takes place through an interview process during which all members of the MECOP Board interview the students applying for the program. The goal of this screening is to make every effort to ensure that the students are qualified and ready for future internship placement.
The program's objective is to develop students through a variety of high quality manufacturing companies and firms that employ a wide range of engineering disciplines. To insure this, the students are required to intern at two different companies. This allows both the University and the students a more representative view of todays diverse engineering opportunities.
Representatives from each company offering internships for students in the program are required to participate in placing the students into internships. The process consists of an informal social gathering introducing students and representatives, followed by interviews. Each student is interviewed by a group of company representatives to ask questions and clarify students needs and expectations in an internship. The purpose is to match students and companies, achieving mutual benefits to all parties.
Begin lower division course work.
Complete lower division course work. Apply and interview for MECOP at the end of the year.
Attend MECOP seminar. Begin upper division course work. Interview for first internship. Work for one of the MECOP companies spring and summer.
Attend MECOP seminar. Continue upper division course work. Interview for second internship. Work for a second MECOP company summer and fall.
Attend MECOP seminar. Complete upper division course work and receive Bachelor of Science degree.
Benefits of MECOP
- Real work experience
- Two six-month internships
- Opportunity to experience the real work environments, tryout different sectors of industries, management styles, etc.
- Learn early in your career what an engineer really is like
- Learn from experience your academic and personal strengths and weaknesses
- Make more informed course selections upon return to the university
- Have motivation or reasons to apply yourself
- Finance all or a major part of your education
- Develop the ability to understand and grasp course content upon return to the university
- Develop maturity and confidence
- Become highly marketable after graduating
- Make contacts in industry that last a lifetime