Experiential learning is a process through which students develop knowledge, skills, and values from direct experiences outside a traditional academic setting. Experiential learning encompasses a variety of activities including internships, service learning, undergraduate research, study abroad, and other creative and professional work experiences. Well-planned, supervised and assessed experiential learning programs can stimulate academic inquiry by promoting interdisciplinary learning, civic engagement, career development, cultural awareness, leadership, and other professional and intellectual skills. We offer a variety of experiential opportunities and professional development workshops each semester for CECS students.
Learning that is considered "experiential" contain all the following elements:
- Reflection, critical analysis and synthesis
- Opportunities for students to take initiative, make decisions, and be accountable for the results
- Opportunities for students to engage intellectually, creatively, emotionally, socially, or physically
- A designed learning experience that includes the possibility to learn from natural consequences, mistakes, and successes.
College and University Benefits
The National Commission for Cooperative Education outlines benefits that the university and its faculty gain from having a co-op program on campus:
- Expands the range of educational opportunities for students by integrating learning at the workplace into the academic program.
- Assists in the recruitment and retention of students. Co-op earnings and enhanced prospects for professional employment increase student and parent interest.
- Improves student and faculty access to state-of-the-art equipment and technology by using the workplace as a laboratory extension of the classroom.
- Keeps college curricula up-to-date with changes in industry through constant input from the employment sector.
- Builds a positive relationship between the institution and the local business community.
- Enhances public support for higher education by improving the post-graduation career opportunities for students. Policymakers increasingly request demonstrated outcomes for students, and co-op can enhance the quality and level of employment results for graduates.
Students co-oping have been beneficial to numerous UTC faculty members. It has led to faculty developing research and consulting relationships with many of our co-op employers. Recently, several faculty have developed new class structures built on our students working on special class projects generated by employer demand that benefit both the students and our employers. It has also lead to updated curricular advances and improvements.
All College of Engineering and Computer Science co-ops are managed within the Mechanical Engineering Office.
An externship is an opportunity for students to engage in practice-based learning in a specific field of interest. In its most simple form, it is an opportunity for students to shadow a more experienced professional in the industry of interest. The duration of an externship is much shorter than that of internships. An externship could last anywhere from a single day to a couple of weeks at the most; whereas, an internship would typically be about eight weeks at the very minimum and can even extend to much longer than that for some fields. Externships give interested students a firsthand look at what it would be like to work in that particular career field and to help them explore their interests further. Students do not get paid during an externship, nor do they receive any school credit for the experience. Externships are the perfect solution for students who are still deciding on a career path.. While observing professionals at work, the student not only learns more about the job or occupation of interest, but also gains a better understanding of the day-to-day activities of professionals in the field. The student can assess whether the career path aligns with strengths and interests. An externship also gives the opportunity to build or expand upon a professional network.
The college encourages students to take advantage of internship opportunities. Interning provides students with:
- practical experience
- insight to potential jobs
- the ability to network with employers
- help them make career decisions even if the company may not have any full time positions available
Interning helps employers gain experience with future employees, and helps in the selection of the best candidates for open positions. Finding motivated employees with a passion for the work they are hired to perform is difficult at best. Having the opportunity to “try out” future employees first can help make sure the correct employee is hired. Internship programs provide cost saving to a company by:
- reducing risk of hiring the wrong person is worth thousands,
- cost savings of recruiting to find good employees,
- Salary savings by training interns over new hires
A company interning CECS students are invited the semi-annual Day of Networking (Job Fair) the first Wednesday of March and the first Wednesday of November every year. This is an excellent opportunity to meet students and staff in the CECS.
In addition, the college works closely with partnering companies to provide additional access to the students in the form of workshops, seminars and talking to classes.
The College welcomes feedback on quality of students being interned, potential additions to training to support your industry, and opportunities to further partner.
The College of Engineering and Computer Science works with the UTC Career and Student Employment Center to provide our students with variety of comprehensive free resources. Students have the opportunity to participate in personal development trainings, interview prep sessions, resume clinics, career fairs, and business etiquette seminars.