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Student Wins Chance at “One in a Thousand” Co-op Opportunity

This past summer, industrial design pre-junior Amy Johannigman was one of the youngest interns ever to work at Ford Motor Company, selected from among thousands of applicants. For her coming cooperative education quarter (starting in January 2007), she’s won a coveted spot at Studio Red.

Date: 11/27/2006
By: M.B. Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Andrew Higley
UC ingot Considering that University of Cincinnati design student Amy Johannigman, 21, is so driven, it’s easy to see why she won one of only five national intern positions for design offered by Ford Motor Company this past summer. And why she’s landed an equally prestigious cooperative-education work assignment beginning in January 2007 at Studio Red in New York City.

Amy Johannigman

This past summer, Amy had just finished her sophomore year in UC’s top-ranked College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning when she beat out students from around the country to earn the Ford intern position usually reserved for rising college seniors.

“My boss at Ford said I was one of the youngest interns they’d ever had,” says Amy, who spent the summer designing a concept car for introduction into the Chinese consumer market in the year 2011. She added, “I know Ford received thousands of portfolios from students around the country and interviewed hundreds of students before choosing five of us.”

Co-ops with automakers are especially difficult to win because in the world of automotive design, no one accepts second best. In fact, the specialty of auto design is so highly competitive that, in some years, entire graduating classes of young designers from the nation’s five transportation tracks (of which UC is one) are passed over by automakers.

It was the chance for such co-op work experience that helped convince Amy to come to UC, which invented the practice of cooperative education in 1906 and has a Top Ten co-op program as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

“In high school, I knew I wanted to study design, but I wasn’t sure where,” recalls Amy, a resident of Hyde Park. “The summer before my senior year in high school, I attended a pre-college design program at the Rhode Island School of Design. I was strongly thinking of going to school there because I really wanted to go to school out of town.”

But family and teachers kept urging Amy to visit DAAP and its internationally recognized programs. “I told them,” says Amy, “that I would just tour DAAP and not any other part of the university. I was just going to do it to humor them. But, in the end, DAAP’s facilities and co-op program so impressed me that I came to school here. It’s the best of all worlds for me because I now get to visit and live in a number of different cities, thanks to co-op.”

Though the prestigious co-op opportunities helped convince Amy to come to UC, she almost didn’t submit her portfolio for the chance to co-op at Ford. “I received an e-mail from the co-op advisor that Ford was seeking portfolios. I thought it was a mistake that I’d received the message because I’m a product designer. I didn’t have one car in my portfolio,” she states.

Amy Johannigman

But Ford was seeking diversity of talent and so Amy spent the summer working in Detroit – and now has a number of autos in her portfolio. Of her working months with the car maker, Amy says she met weekly with top management and leading automotive designers. “It was no 9-to-5 work day. We would stay late and come in early. It was such a chance to work with Ford’s premiere designers that I wanted to take advantage of every moment,” she adds.

Next, in January 2007, she has an equally impressive cooperative education quarter lined up with the Rockwell Group’s Studio Red. Rockwell brainstorms branding designs and concepts for enterprises ranging from The Coca-Cola Company to the Miami Dolphins. Not unlike when she was on her way to Ford, Amy admits to being both excited and a little intimidated. But also like her past co-op, she plans to take advantage of every moment.


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