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CAER Co-op Program

The Center for Applied Energy Research works closely with the University of Kentucky's College of Engineering each semester by hiring students through UK's co-op program.

The five year co-op program is optional, but it provides students with invaluable work experience to complement classroom lessons. Mechanical, chemical, and electrical engineering majors spend their final six semesters alternating between full-time work and full-time academics.

Donna Hewett, UK's director of the co-op program, sees many program benefits. She says, " The job market is so tight. Things have changed. Companies are not going after students. The students are having to go after the companies now." The CAER offers unparalleled experience, especially for students interested in research.

The Center's interaction with the program begins when Hewett sends resumes to interested CAER researchers. Three to six co-ops each semester are employed to assist in experiments and learn first-hand how to conduct high-level research.

Co-ops are assigned to a position for three semesters, meaning they will work in the same field for up to three years. Hewett sees many advantages in this, saying, "If an employer is expecting a student back three times, they are more likely to come up with a job description where the student is actually doing something."

Three semesters of employment at the CAER can mean a great deal in the long run, in addition to the immediate rewards. Jim Neathery, a CAER researcher, employs at least one co-op student each semester. He says a co-op's experience here is rewarding to both parties. "All co-ops have gone to graduate school or gone on to gainful employment." Students also can use the Center as a reference when looking for permanent employment.

Students who have served as co-ops at CAER are now employed at such places as Radion Corporation in Louisville, Abbot Laboratories in Chicago, and East Kentucky Power Cooperative; positions which, as Neathery puts it, "directly relate to work here."

The CAER is the only university research center in the co-op program. For students interested in research, the education received while working at the Center cannot be matched.

For more information about the UK College of Engineering Co-op Program and CAER's involvement in the program contact Donna Hewett at Engineering Co-op, 320 Center for Robotics and Manufacturing Systems, Lexington, KY 40108; phone at (859)257-8864.