Micro Co-op

Micro co-ops (also known as project-based internships, gig work, or freelancing) are short-term placements with an employer, generally with a maximum duration of 30 days, which commonly focus on the completion of a short, clearly defined project created by the host organization.

Because placements are shorter than a traditional co-op, micro co-ops offer a level of convenience and accessibility to students from all academic programs.

Project (or Gig) Work

Students from any major can browse the offerings on Parker Dewey, UC's preferred platform for connecting students and employers for project work.

Service Learning Co-op

Service Learning Co-op pays students to work on IT-related projects for local Cincinnati non-profits. Students can work for up to 80 hours and earn up to $1,000.

Virtual Innovation Studio

A Virtual Innovation Studio is a five-week, faculty-led innovation sprint on a project in collaboration with an industry partner. The experience is open to any student from any major. Students in mandatory co-op programs can earn Experiential Explorations Program (EEP) credit for participating.

As a student, you will work on a cross-disciplinary team on a project to generate new knowledge, identify new opportunities, explore new creative concepts, or make speculative predictions about the future. You will spend about 25 hours per week for five weeks (125 hours total) on a guided process of landscape assessment, user research, concept brainstorming, prototyping, and developing deliverables.

You'll have a unique opportunity to experience collaborating remotely while flexing into stretch roles within and outside your discipline. You are permitted to show all project work in your portfolio and disclose your participation on your resume and in future interviews.

Dates and projects for the future sessions are being developed.

If you are interested in participating in a Virtual Innovation Studio, contact Professor Aaron Bradley.

Student Experience

Undergraduate and graduate students from different disciplines tell about their Virtual Innovation Studio experiences.

Sample Projects


Since 2008, Oribe Hair Care has set the standard for hair care within the prestige category. Blending award-winning packaging and its signature Côte d’Azur fragrance, the collection is designed with talented hairdressers, sophisticated salons and discerning customers in mind. Represented in more than 40 countries, Oribe has become synonymous with best-in-class product performance and technical education, sparking deep connections with its consumers. Oribe has grown from a prestige hair care brand into a global beauty authority that offers hair care, skincare, body care, makeup, tools and accessories. The brand holds a strong presence in the top-tier professional salon segment as well as in leading specialty retailers around the world. These are the products of the hair obsessed.

Project Description

How might we identify sustainable and/or reusable packaging solutions that are visually stimulating, interactive, and environmentally responsible?

This project will specifically challenge students to explore and propose sustainable and/or reusable opportunities and solutions for Oribe’s internal structures/inserts for limited edition product sets, kits, and set up boxes. Many of these kits are used to introduce new launch products into our Salon channels to encourage trial and stimulate buy-in. Your innovative insert solutions would replace the plastic vacuum-formed trays that currently reside in many beauty/fragrance kits. These new sustainable replacements must strike a balance of being reasonably priced, aesthetically pleasing, elevating the experience by being brand consistent, environmentally conscious, and elegantly designed for retail display in high end salons. Project deliverables may include a combination of recommendations for domestically sourced eco-friendly materials, visual concepts and mock-ups of packaging and displays, physical prototypes (3D/SLA printed models and or mockups), and research-based design / business strategies supporting visual concepts.

Skill Development Tags

Sustainability, Branding, Package Design


Fifth Third Bank, established in 1858, is a financial services company headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. Our Digital Innovation team positions Fifth Third as a thriving thought leader, informing and inspiring an empowered workforce to transform Fifth Third’s experiences, offerings, and communities through emerging technologies and innovation practices. At the center of everything we do is focusing on how to best serve our customers, including consumers, small businesses, large commercial clients and not-for-profits. We pride ourselves on our community involvement, as we continue to invest the time, resources, and people to help improve lives in the communities we serve.

Project Description

How might 5G and edge computing technologies influence digitally enabled experiences and customer relationships?

This Virtual Innovation Studio project will challenge students to research the impact of this emerging technology and create speculative designs around how it will help to serve our customers' needs better. As 5G is projected to impact many aspects of life, it will also transform and revolutionize the banking industry and the customers it serves. 5G will shift societal expectations for communications, access to information, global competitiveness, a business' finance, and operational needs. Teams working on this VIS project will explore and prototype concepts for new business models and technology-enabled solutions based on primary and secondary research, including topics such as:

  • Emerging forms of customer interaction enabled through 5G technologies and AR/VR/MR/XR.
  • Creative and interactive opportunities to leverage 5G technology-enabled experiences in our existing branches and office locations.
  • Opportunities to better connect with and serve customers through 5G.

Skill Development Tags

Emerging Tech, Speculative Design, Business Strategy, Research

UC Forward Co-LABs

Through UC Forward Faculty Collaboratives (Co-LABs), students will work in interdisciplinary teams with other students, experts and outside collaborators in faculty-led projects to come up with ways to address the impact of COVID-19 on the world around us. Students will contribute their various skills and experience and benefit from faculty mentorship.

Log into Handshake and search for "UC Forward co-LAB" to find co-LAB opportunities and apply online within Handshake. Check back periodically, as more projects will be added over time with varying start times and durations. Current projects for summer 2020 so far include working on Zero Hunger/Zero Waste. Co-LAB opportunities are open to all students through a competitive application.

Read more about UC Forward.

Virtual Hackathons

Students participate in teams to solve critical problems for industry and community partners. More information coming soon.

Headshot of Todd J. Foley, PhD

Todd J. Foley, PhD

Associate Professor and Director, Digital Innovation Initiatives