Learning While Working

The College of Engineering and the Office of Professional Practice (OPP) are working with companies to develop a new co-op model called Learning While Working (LWW).

LWW students can earn a co-op certificate for completing a one-year continuous, full-time work experience. The intention is to develop academic courses for students to take online while participating in a co-op experience to reduce the time to graduation from 5 years to 4.5 or 4 years. OPP will build partnerships with co-op employers to hire cohorts of students, and while working, students will take a 3-credit course online during each of the academic periods for which the student is registered for co-op.

Students will complete for-credit engineering projects which will be integrated into the work experience. These projects will have company mentors as well as a Purdue faculty mentor. From the faculty perspective, the projects are well-aligned with their research interests, and this new initiative opens possibilities of collaboration with key stakeholders in industry, such as Cummins. 


OPP will work with new employers that don't typically do a rotational co-op; in some of these formats, employers are interested in hiring students for continuous work. The intent is to build more courses online so students can earn credit while completing a LWW session.

While continuing to build the infrastructure, OPP will work with academic units to offer courses online that will be meaningful to the student's plan of study, as well as for their work within the company.   

“We are excited to offer this new version of co-op,” said Joe Tort, associate director of the OPP. “We believe the technical and professional skills students will gain via a full-year of work, and engagement in real-life engineering projects mentored by the company and Purdue faculty, will make this the Honors of work-integrated learning. We can’t wait to see the impact our students will make for their companies and the success they will have post-graduation.”

Six postings for the Cummins/Purdue Learning While Working 12-month Co-op 2021 Pilot Study have been filled with a diverse group of students from the Purdue School of Mechanical Engineering. Greg Shaver, professor of mechanical engineering, will be helping to mentor the project aspect of the program.

The students and their position titles are Bruno Quintaes (Reliability Engineering), Jiyoon Im (Fluid Mechanics Engineering), Feraas Al-Najjar (Advanced Manufacturing), Maxwell Bolt (System Simulation Engineering), Samir El Khoury (SBPD System Integration), and Evan Hill (Electronic Controls).

Cummins hiring managers recently joined Purdue staff and professors to start discussions about the scope, scale and deliverable expectations of the academic credit projects.

“Cummins is excited to participate in the Purdue Learning While Working co-op pilot project,” said Steven E. Ferdon, director of Global Engineering Technology for Cummins Electronics & Fuel Systems Business. “When fully developed, this new co-op format will be a ‘win’ for all three participants. For the employer, a 12-month co-op is an opportunity to complete broader and deeper technology projects than what can be accomplished in a traditional summer internship. For the Purdue academic advisor, it is an opportunity to work on practical real-world problems, while building a collaborative relationship for future industry funded research. Most importantly, for the student, it is an opportunity to stay on schedule for graduation, earn significant income to offset tuition costs and strengthen their resume with extended industrial work experience.”