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Barbecue was on the menu recently as the Labor Day weekend kicked off in style for UT engineering students thanks to a cookout and meet-and-greet hosted by the Office of Engineering Professional Practice.

Students were invited to come and grab a bite to eat while visiting with representatives from cookout sponsors Alcoa, Altec, DENSO, Dow Chemical, Eastman Chemical, Garmin, MAHLE, and Southern Company.

Lineup“The ability to have our annual cookout is due to the generous support of our sponsors each year,” said Todd Reeves, director of the engineering professional practice office. “We are grateful for their participation and commitment to our cooperative education program here at UT and for giving students an early chance to talk to employers in a relaxed setting before our fall 2014 Engineering Expo.”

While the chance to talk about the various co-op and internship opportunities with each business is a good opportunity for students, it is also a fun way for sponsors to reaffirm their ties to the university.

Several of the companies stressed that their relationship with UT is a key aspect of their success.

“We have a very strong relationship with UT, one that is vital to us,” said DENSO recruiter Brian Crawford. “We try to help out any way we can. We’ve sponsored student chapters here such as the National Society of Black Engineers, the Society of Women in Engineering, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineering, as well as various other groups.

“Anything that can help them eventually helps us both.”

FoodThe professional practice office was founded in 1926 as a way to bring engineering students in contact with companies for paid co-op and internship positions.

Now, eighty-eight years later, students are still reaping the benefit of its efforts, and not just in a financial sense.

While a co-op experience or internship is strongly encouraged for engineering students at UT, the payoff to participants can go beyond what they learn on the job.

“Having that co-op experience is very crucial to being successful,” said Imani Jackson, a mechanical engineering major who spent the summer with Duke Energy. “It wasn’t just about putting what I’d learned to use, but about figuring out what I really liked to do and what I didn’t like to do. Now I can use that experience to tailor my classes to fit what I really want to wind up doing, which is another aspect of this that other people should think about.”

As much as the co-op experience pays off for students, companies also get the advantage of having an early look at some of the College of Engineering’s best and brightest students.

That, together with the added bonuses of having new perspectives, ideas and ways of doing things that students can bring, makes participating in the program an easy choice for corporate sponsors.

“Being able to not only have such a strong engineering program in our backyard but one with whom we are closely allied is crucial for us,” said Eastman Chemical recruiter Brooke Seal. “Our support of them is important for them to attract the best and brightest, and them attracting the best and brightest is important for our company’s future because we have so many alumni from UT.

“Supporting programs like this and the other things the Office of Engineering Professional Practice does is a win-win.”

The other benefit for students at the event was the chance to mingle with others throughout the college.

“This is a great way to bring us all together,” said Christina Sanford, a civil engineering major. “I’ve got friends throughout engineering, but it’s really rare for all of us from different disciplines to have an event, other than graduation, where we’re all together.”

The fall 2014 Engineering Expo—the next opportunity for students to learn about co-op and internship programs—will be held from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. on September 25 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

C O N T A C T :

David Goddard (865-974-0683,