Penn State Erie, The Behrend College

School of Engineering and Engineering Technology

Electrical Engineering Technology

Co-op Program Guidelines

(Click here to see these guidelines in a larger font )


What is co-operative education?                                           Requirements for the EET co-op program

Registration benefits                                                           How the co-op program is implemented

Specific responsibilities of each person in the co-op process       The co-op process

Financial Aid                                                                                             Tuition                                                        

Housing                                                                            Sequence of classes and an optional minor in MIS

Electrical engineering technology policies                                Preparing for the first day on the job

How to check email while on co-op                                         Problems during the co-op assignment

Sexual harassment                                                               Grading and educational requirements

Contact Information


Co-operative education (or co-op) is an integrated approach to higher education which enables bright, highly motivated students to obtain relevant work experience while completing an academic program. Participation in the co-op program provides students with practical knowledge and experience related to their academic interests and enables them to test their aptitudes and professional competence through on-the-job training. It also enables them to develop skills in working with people and, of course, provides financial assistance in meeting educational expenses. An additional benefit is improved permanent employment opportunities, since many potential employers look at relevant industrial experience as a critical factor in making hiring decisions.

Sponsoring organizations also gain from student co-ops, as they are offered a chance to observe employment prospects on a relatively long-term basis and can accomplish projects that might not be otherwise possible at existing staff levels.


Students in the co-op program are required to complete the academic baccalaureate degree requirements in electrical engineering technology (EET). In addition, they complete three work semesters, i.e., periods of approximately 16 weeks during which a student is employed by a business or industry. Typically, students alternate semesters between work and school until completion of the third work semester. Both the employer and the EET program evaluate a student's performance for each work semester. The Penn State Behrend Career Development Center (CDC) is responsible for securing employers to participate in the co-op program and will assist in arrangements between prospective co-op students and employers.

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A successful co-op program requires the cooperation of four individuals, each with specific responsibilities. They are:

  1. Co-op Student – The co-op is a currently enrolled student who is eligible to engage in a university-approved co-op opportunity. Student eligibility is determined according to school criteria, such as minimum semester standing, GPA or completed course work.
  2. Faculty Supervisor – The faculty supervisor is an official university representative who has faculty status and is responsible for the academic oversight of the student.
  3. Site Supervisor – The site supervisor is the officially recognized professional at the approved sponsoring organization who is responsible for the on-site supervision and evaluation of the co-op student.
  4. Co-op Coordinator – The staff of the CDC serves as the link between the academic and engineering communities.

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CDC Co-op Coordinator

The CDC co-op coordinator is responsible for maintaining lists of engineering contacts and potential co-op positions. Every effort will be made to provide positions for all interested students. When a request for a co-op is made by an engineering organization, the CDC will forward a copy of the position description to the EET in-charge faculty for review. If the in-charge determines the position is viable, it shall be made available to students interested in obtaining a position, and the CDC will act as the initial point of contact between the student and the organization.

Co-op Student

The student is responsible for making the initial inquiry into obtaining a co-op position and for meeting all departmental and university requirements in terms of eligibility for the co-op program. The student is also responsible for filing all appropriate paperwork.

After getting departmental approval to begin the co-op, the student will sign up for 1 credit of EETBD 495 (internship) at the beginning of each co-op semester. The grade for this course will be determined at the conclusion of the semester, and will be based upon the evaluation of the site supervisor as well as the term paper documenting the co-op experience (see below). Upon satisfactory completion of three semesters of co-op experience, the three credits of EETBD 495 which have been accrued will be used to satisfy one 400-level technical elective in the EETBD program.

Co-op students will conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times. This includes the development of respectful and cooperative relationships with the site supervisor and other employees at the sponsoring organization. The student will establish and maintain regular and punctual working hours, and will conduct himself/herself in an ethical manner, conforming to the sponsoring organization’s policies and procedures while executing the specific duties and responsibilities of the co-op position. Failure to comply with the sponsoring organization’s policies may result in termination of the co-op position.

At the conclusion of each co-op semester, the student will submit a term paper documenting the co-op experience to the faculty supervisor. The term paper serves as the primary means by which the faculty supervisor will evaluate the co-op experience. Information included in the paper will be kept strictly confidential by the university. Details are provided in the section on electrical engineering technology policies.

The student will also ensure that the site supervisor completes an evaluation of the student. Both the student and supervisor need to sign this evaluation.

Faculty Supervisor

The in-charge faculty must approve all potential co-op positions as worthy of academic credit. Such determination shall be made based on the type of work to be performed, and by the contribution the co-op will make to the student’s learning experience.

The faculty supervisor is responsible for monitoring the student’s activities during the duration of the co-op semester. The faculty supervisor will contact the site supervisor to check on the progress of the student midway through the co-op semester. Additional student meetings, consultations with the site supervisor, or on-site visits may be arranged by agreement among the parties. At the conclusion of each co-op semester, the faculty supervisor will assign the grade for the co-op student in accordance with departmental guidelines. The faculty supervisor will then forward a summary evaluation of the co-op sponsor/experience to the CDC for quality control purposes.

Site Supervisor/Sponsoring Organization

The sponsoring organization agrees to provide a supervised, relevant learning experience for the co-op student. The exact nature of this experience will vary from discipline to discipline, and from student to student. Requests for co-ops will be reviewed by the CDC and EET in-charge faculty prior to any assignment of co-op students.

The sponsor will appoint a site supervisor who will assume primary responsibility for the direction and on-site supervision of the co-op student. The sponsor will ensure that the student is aware of all relevant company policies and procedures. At regular intervals, the site supervisor will apprise the student concerning the quality of his/her work. If the quality of the student’s work is considered poor or marginal, the site supervisor will notify the supervising faculty member in order to develop appropriate corrective procedures.

At the conclusion of each co-op semester, it is the responsibility of the site supervisor to forward a written and signed evaluation of the student’s performance to the faculty supervisor. A supervisor's evaluation form is provided for this purpose, and the site supervisor is encouraged also to write a more expanded evaluation of the student’s work. This evaluation should include a brief description of the co-op student’s activities, as well as an assessment of the proficiency and general attitude demonstrated by the student. This evaluation will be reviewed with the student by both the site supervisor and the faculty supervisor.

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  1. The student requests approval for the co-op program by the EET in-charge faculty within three months of the start of the co-op. Departmental eligibility is determined.
  2. An estimate of needed co-op positions is sent to the CDC co-op coordinator in a timely fashion.
  3. The CDC makes contacts in the business/industrial community concerning the co-op program. The CDC will inform potential sponsors on general guidelines and expectations.
  4. Interested organizations contact the CDC with potential positions.
  5. The CDC forwards a description of the co-op position to the EET in-charge faculty for review.
  6. The in-charge faculty approves/disapproves the position for potential academic credit worthiness.
  7. The student contacts the CDC to identify available co-op positions.
  8. A possible match is made between the student and sponsor.
  9. The CDC staff will submit the student's resume to selected companies.
  10. The student submits an agreement for the co-op position to the sponsor. The agreement form is available in the CDC office, or at the link above. The sponsor returns the signed agreement form to the student. The student provides a copy of the signed proposal to the CDC and faculty supervisor.
  11. The student informs other companies who have extended job offers that he/she has accepted a position with another company and thanks them for the opportunity.
  12. The student registers for 1 credit of EETBD 495. This includes filling out the yellow internship form available from either the registrar's office, the SEET office, or off of the CDC web site.
  13. The student meets with the CDC to discuss housing and financial aid arrangements.
  14. During the co-op semester, the student meets with the site supervisor.
  15. At the midpoint in the semester, the faculty supervisor contacts the site supervisor to assess the student’s performance to date.
  16. At the conclusion of the co-op semester, the site supervisor forwards the student evaluation to the faculty supervisor.
  17. The student submits a term paper to the faculty supervisor and completes any other departmental requirements.
  18. Faculty supervisor assigns the student a grade and forwards a summary evaluation of the co-op experience to the CDC.

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Students participating in the Penn State Co-op Program are NOT eligible for financial aid assistance for the semesters they are on co-op assignment. This includes state and federal financial aid, as well as grants and scholarships. Because all financial aid packages are tailored to the student, we strongly encourage all students to contact the Penn State Behrend Office of Financial Aid. In addition, students with grants and/or scholarships should also contact their granting agency.

Financial Aid Specifics

Financial Aid Checklist

To help you understand the annual calendar for financial aid, especially in regards to co-op students, here is a checklist to help you out:

March/October:                    Register for EETBD 395/495 for the next co-op semester.

May/August/December:      Return your bill to complete your registration process for the next co-op semester.

January:                                 Complete the Free Application for Financial Aid (FAFSA) with actual tax info.

March:                                    Check with your home state grant agency for your state's application deadline and instructions.  Begin a Student Aid file of papers including: copies of FAFSA, tax returns, letters, etc.

April:                                       Make corrections to your Student Aid Report (SAR) if necessary.

May:                                         MAY 1 is the deadline for Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) to receive your FAFSA record and to award PA State Grants.

June:                                        Apply for student or parent loans, sign all necessary promissory notes.  Make any address changes.

July:                                         Complete verification if requested.

December:                               If you are currently receiving financial aid, you should receive a renewal FAFSA.

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As a co-op student, you are only required to pay for the number of credits and the associated fees for which you will be registered for your co-op class and any other PSU class you may be taking while on co-op. You do not need to pay full-tuition if you are taking less than 12 credits during your co-op semester. Typically students take just one credit per co-op.

During the fall and spring semesters, you will receive a bill for full-tuition, this is how Penn State normally processes bills. Once you receive your bill, you cannot ignore it. PSU will NOT send you a modified bill reflecting only what is owed due to co-op. What you need to do:

  1. Calculate the amount owed for the co-op credits and any other class(es) you may be taking.
  2. Calculate the associated fees. Contact the Bursar’s and Financial Aid office to calculate these fees.
  3. Add the credit cost and the fees together to get your total bill.
  4. Send a check or money order for this amount, along with the return form on your original bill and a note letting the bursar know you are registered for co-op.

During the summer semester you will receive a bill that reflects the per-credit amount for the co-op class you are taking, so just pay this bill as you normally would.

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Residence Halls at Penn State

Relocation and Housing

If the company does not supply housing there are several steps you may take in your search:

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A recommended sequence of classes is provided in the attachments to enable students to complete their three semesters of co-op experience and graduate within five years. This sequence allows for the first co-op semester to begin in either the fourth semester (spring semester sophomore year) or during the summer following the fourth semester. In addition, students have the option of supplementing their baccalaureate degree in EET with a minor in MIS. This minor requires the student to take one additional class over the course of four semesters. Details of the MIS minor for EET students are provided in the attachment as well.

Curriculum for Co-op students (first work semester in the spring semester sophomore year)

Curriculum for Co-op students (first work semester in the spring semester sophomore year) WITH MIS MINOR

Curriculum for Co-op students (first work semester in the summer semester after sophomore year)

Curriculum for Co-op students (first work semester in the summer semester after sophomore year) WITH MIS MINOR


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Students are eligible for a co-op experience in their fourth semester after successful completion of the following classes:

Students must maintain a minimum GPA as determined by the EET program.

Paper Requirement: The term paper prepared by the student after each co-op semester should document the work duties and responsibilities of the co-op. The paper should also include a personal evaluation by the student of the co-op as a learning experience. The paper should analyze and discuss the co-op experience by showing how concepts learned from academic course work were applied in the work place. The paper should also include any other experiences and observations made in the work setting.

Grading: Grading will be on the normal scale (A, B, C, etc.).

In order to receive a grade for the co-op experience, the student must:

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Starting Your Job

The First Day on the Job

Advice to New Co-op Students

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If you have access to a computer that supports POP mail (such as a Windows-based PC) you can use standard POP mail readers like Eudora or the mail tool with Netscape Navigator.  When setting up the software, you need to put <userid> in the POP account field and in the SMTP field.  You can now read your PSU email as you normally would.

If your company gives you an e-mail address…you can forward your PSU e-mail by going to the web page 

From there:

Select "Edit Your Phone Book Entry"

A prompt will appear

Enter your current Access Account UserName and Password

Select O.K.

Enter entire work email address in email field

(or change any other fields if you wish)

Scroll down to the bottom of the page (using bottom right scroll bar).

Select the button "Change Entry"

Using the Internet: If you register with Hotmail, an Internet e-mail provider, you may use your Hotmail account to check your Penn State e-mail. Go to for more details and to register. This is a free service. There are other Internet e-mail providers, but this one is well known and very common.

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Occasionally we do have students who have problems, such as lack of work, assignments not matching their major field of study, conflicts with other employees, etc.

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If any student experiences sexual harassment, we strongly recommend you call the CDC (814) 868-6164 immediately. The CDC will direct you to the appropriate contact to handle the situation. We will confidentially assist you in every way. This includes removing you from the situation.

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Within the first 2 weeks of the semester:

Provide us with your address and phone number where you will be living, your work phone number, and your supervisor contact information.

By the Friday before finals week

Complete your work term report per the guidelines listed above (in electrical engineering technology policies). Send the original and one copy to the faculty supervisor.

Make sure your report arrives prior to the above date!

Keep a copy of your report for your own records!

Have your supervisor complete and review with you the supervisor evaluation form. Both you and your supervisor must sign this form. Be sure your supervisor will be available at the end of the semester to evaluate you. Check your supervisor's schedule to ensure your supervisor will not be on travel, etc. when you wish to have the evaluation completed. Ensure the original and one copy of this evaluation is sent by the site supervisor to the faculty supervisor.

Make sure your report arrives prior to the above date!

Keep a copy of the evaluation for your own records!

HINT: Do not wait until the last minute to do your report. The report can be partially completed any time during your co-op. Please remember, the report is a required academic assignment with a set due date. There is no excuse for not knowing about the assignment or the due date.

Your Co-op Grade

Once your report and evaluation is received, your faculty supervisor will review and grade each report.

If your report is within one week late, your grade will be reduced by one letter grade, if your report is one to two weeks late, it will be reduced by two letter grades, if your report is more than two weeks late, you will get an unsatisfactory grade.


For more information contact:

Robert S. Weissbach, Ph.D.

Electrical Engineering Technology Program Chair

Phone: (814) 898-6346

Fax: (814) 898-6125




Carrie Payne

Coordinator of Placements and Internships

Career Development Center

Phone: (814) 898-6164

Fax: (814) 898-6455


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