Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Why should I try to get engineering work experience?


  • It helps you better understand what the school work is for.
  • It helps you to choose what areas are interesting to you
  • It helps to pay the bills. Not only do you get paid for your work, you also do not pay the university full fees while you are working.
  • You will learn "job-skills" such as career assessment, resume writing, and interviewing techniques that are not part of normal academic programs.
  • You will get better job offers when you graduate. (If you graduate in a bad job market, it may make the difference between getting an offer or not!)

Q: How can I get practical experience in engineering while I am in school?

A: You have to find an employer who is willing to hire you as an "engineering intern" or "coop".

Q: What's the difference between "Internship" and "Coop"?

A: For Employers an "internship" is a one-time job; usually during the summer but occasionally for a semester during the academic year. In contrast, employers normally reserve the term "coop" for a program where the student comes back to work several times, including at least some regular semesters.

Q: What is "Purdue Co-op"?

A: At Purdue the term "Coop" almost always means the Purdue Professional Practice Program (formerly known as the Purdue Cooperative Education Program). Both employers and students must qualify to participate in this program. Employers qualify to hire AAE students by submitting a work plan that is clearly coordinated with the AAE program. Students qualify by having and retaining high grades. Students normally alternate work and school, including summers. Students usually start after the freshman year, and have up to 5 work sessions. Students who complete the program receive a suitably enscribed diploma.

Q: Should I seek a co-op or an internship ?

A: Qualified students should always apply to the Purdue Coop program because that gives you the earliest chance of getting suitable work. Most employers do not want to talk to you for internships until after your sophomore or junior years. Purdue Coop is your best bet for getting a job after your freshman year. Any coop program, by its nature, is going to give you more work experience, and better quality, than you could normally get from internships.

Q: How can I remain a student if I am off campus working full time?

A: You register for the appropriate "Coop course", depending on your status. These "coop courses" are recognized by the university as making you officially a full time student. The costs/benifits of registering are elaborated on in WHY REGISTER?

Q: Do I get a grade or credit for the work experience?

A: The courses you sign up for while off campus are 0 credit, Pass/Fail grading. The registrations are recorded on your trascript. However, you can earn credit when you are in school by registering for AAE443, "Industrial Practice Seminars". Each registration is 1cr, and you may enroll repeatedly for up to 3cr toward the BSAAE degree. The broad purpose of this course is to promote Industrial Experience among AAE students.

Q: Doesn't taking a semester off mean that it will take me longer to finish?

A: Yes. It is up to you to decide if the benefit is worth that cost.

Q: Can't I get engineering work experience without taking time out from school?

A: Lots of students take summer engineering jobs that they do not consider "time out" from school. A few students find part-time engineering jobs that can be done while in school. This is rare and not necessarily a good idea if you are a full time student.

Q: Can I coop at "Company X" even though they are not part of the Purdue Coop Program?

A: Many employers have "coop programs" that are not part of the Purdue Coop Program. Often this is because the employer wants to guarantee only 3 work sessions instead of the Purdue mandated 5; or because the employer wants to have higher GPA standards than Purdue's. AAE students can take advantage of these programs as well.

Q: Will I get a job offer?

A: As a freshman, probably not. About 1 in 3 to 1 in 5 of those who apply as freshman actually get offers before the beginning of the fall semester sophomore year. Over the past twelve years between 20-25% of all AAE students have been classified as Co-op.

The more schooling you have, the greater your chances. Most AAE graduates will have gained some industrial experience before they graduate.

Q: I am an International Student. Can I get a job offer?

A: Unfortunately, almost all coop and internship jobs in the aerospace industry in the US require citizenship. A few will consider permanent residents. Almost none accept Student Visa holders. However, a few students have succeeded... you could be one of them.

Q: What if I have other questions?

A: Contact Professor Marc Williams for more information regarding School of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AAE) co-op and/or internship opportunities.

Marc Williams
Office Phone: (765) 494-5137

Industrial Experience Homepage