Uniting the Ivory Tower and the Smokestack: Co-op Turns 100!

When the previous century was young – in 1906 to be exact – an equally youthful educator at the University of Cincinnati built a tenuous bridge between education’s ivory tower and industry’s smokestack.  He sent 27 untested engineering students into turn-of-the-century mines and mills to see what lessons they’d learn from the paid positions he’d arranged for them.

So, UC began what’s known around the world – in 43 countries at last count – as “Cooperative Education,” a timeless practice of transforming youth to experience. 

Today as we approach the 2005-2006 school year, hundreds of thousands of students studying everything from accounting to urban affairs continue the ever-expanding educational experiment – which was once defined in Webster’s unabridged dictionary as “The Cincinnati Plan.”  Using the classroom as their home base, co-op allows students around the globe to alternate quarters or semesters spent in school with paid, professional experience related directly to their majors, just like those first UC students. These co-op terms are sequential, each one adding ever-advancing layers of professional responsibility linked back to classroom lessons. In other words, co-op means a salary well earned and academics well learned.

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