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UC student creates own co-op in Germany

Biomedical engineering student Charley Goodwin will be the second American to co-op at Johnson & Johnson’s offices in Norderstedt, Germany

Goodwin with bearcat at football stadium

Charley Goodwin (biomedical engineering '20). Photo/Provided

By the time Charley Goodwin (biomedical engineering ’20) entered her fourth year at the University of Cincinnati, she had completed three fulfilling cooperative-education rotations with medical device company Zimmer Biomet in Warsaw, Indiana.

At Zimmer Biomet, Goodwin built up an impressive resume, working with projects relating to medical devices and implants and gaining skills in project management, design, marketing, testing and technical communication

The only thing missing was an experience abroad.

“I have always enjoyed traveling, but with the co-op curriculum, study abroad isn’t always feasible,” Goodwin said. “I found the International Co-op Program and knew that Germany was the place.”

UC’s International Co-op Program sends about 20 students each semester to Germany or Japan. UC has established relationships with professional partners in these countries, and students typically apply for positions within these companies as they would on a domestic co-op. But Goodwin had her eyes set on a company not on UC’s international list: Johnson & Johnson.

“I wanted to work for Johnson & Johnson because it’s one of the biggest medical-device companies in the field,” Goodwin said. “And I enjoy their products.”

Goodwin had a connection in the field, which helped her establish initial contact with Johnson & Johnson. There was only one problem. Although the company hired co-op students (and a number of UC students) in the United States, its German branch was unfamiliar with the concept of cooperative education. Internships in America and Germany, as it turns out, are two different things.

“I worked with them in explaining what the co-op was in general, which was a pretty hard task,” Goodwin said. “I didn’t know German, and they didn’t know co-op.”

Add the difficulties of securing a visa, housing and pay in a foreign country and the roadblocks start piling up. Goodwin was determined, however, and though it took a little longer than usual, she finally secured a co-op position in research and development at its facility in Norderstedt, Germany, about 13 miles north of Hamburg. 

Goodwin with coworkers holding a knee prototype.

UC student Charley Goodwin, second from right, poses with co-workers at Zimmer Biomet. Photo/Provided.

Goodwin will be working with sutures and meshes, two medical devices that keep internal organs in place during and after surgery. Goodwin will be the second-ever American intern hired by Johnson & Johnson in Germany. (The first was a student from Princeton University this past summer.)

Though Goodwin has found a home in biomedical engineering, it wasn’t long ago when she wasn’t sure she even wanted to pursue engineering. Like many incoming biomedical engineering students, Goodwin always had an interest in medicine, specifically orthopedics, but she wasn’t necessarily interested in going to medical school.

“I really had zero idea about engineering,” she said. “I was kind of interested in the biomedical field, but I wasn’t sure whether engineering was right.”

She ultimately chose UC because she thought the co-op program would better acclimate her to the field and give her an unparalleled insight into the biomedical engineering profession. Fortunately, after several academic semesters at UC and three rotations with Zimmer Biomet, she knows she made the right choice.

Entering her final co-op, Goodwin leaves behind an impressive and diverse portfolio of biomedical engineering projects. Through her coursework at UC, she has also developed a passion for electrical engineering, something she is considering at the graduate level. For Goodwin, the cross-disciplinary nature of the field is what makes it both rewarding and challenging. 

“I love biomedical engineering and everything about it, which makes the decision after graduation harder because you can do so much with it,” said Goodwin.

No matter what lies in store for her, one thing remains clear: as Goodwin prepares for her eight months abroad (she leaves Dec. 26), she is excited to embark upon the journey. 

Featured image at top: Goodwin poses with two coworkers (and Bearcats) outside of her co-op employer, Zimmer Biomet. 

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