Student Introduction to Co-op

Most college students attend classes September-May and take summers off. This sequence began when the economy was based on agriculture and college students were needed for summer harvest. Historically, many students graduated with agricultural experience but without experience related to their academic studies or career choice.

In 1925 when SMU established the Lyle School of Engineering and Applied Science, the industrial revolution had already changed the face of our country. Improved farming methods greatly reduced the need for students to work on farms during the summer. Factories, offices, and cities became common places of employment.

The Technical Club of Dallas, Texas, a professional association consisting of factory owners and senior partners of engineering firms, saw the need to hire and train more college educated engineers. They asked SMU to establish the Lyle School of Engineering to hire more engineers. Since these companies worked twelve months rather than three, the traditional academic schedule of working during the summers did not meet their needs. Therefore, they asked SMU to include the year-round alternating school and work co-op training program as a required part of each engineering student's curriculum. Today, the fast pace of industry continues to need trained students on a year-round basis.

SMU implemented both requests in 1925. Between 1925 and 1965, all Lyle Engineering students participated in Co-op. Since 1965, Co-op has been an optional part of the curriculum. Today more than one third of the Lyle School of Engineering undergraduate students choose to participate.

About Co-op Employment

  • Paid by the employer
  • Related to an academic major or career choice
  • Full-time, forty hours or more per week of work during alternating semesters
  • Year-round, rotating on an alternating basis between spring, summer, fall
  • Supervised by the employer

SMU's Role

  • Determines student qualifications for SMU's Co-op Program
  • Awards grades to each Co-op student
  • Monitors the quality of Co-op work experience

Co-op Employer's Role

  • Determine which student(s) they hire through the Co-op program
  • Invite students to return for subsequent work terms after the first work term

Co-op Student's Role

  • Complete a full-time schedule of classes at SMU during alternating semesters
  • Follow all policies of the employer and the university
  • Earn an invitation from the employer to return for each subsequent work term by following the employer's policies, meeting or exceeding the employer's expectations for job performance, earning sufficient grades at SMU, and following the SMU Co-op Program policies.