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A Message from Ian P. Sladen

Ian P. Sladen
Vice President, Cooperative Education and Career Development
Steinbright Career Development

Cooperative Education: Defining a Culture of Continuous Improvement for the 21st Century

We might be celebrating a century of cooperative education at Drexel University, but what I’m excited about, what drives my staff in the Steinbright Career Development Center each day, is how cooperative education is redefining Drexel University — right now, in real time.

We have spent the past century perfecting how we facilitate, deliver, measure and refine our co-op program. Since 1919, cooperative education has been excellent at identifying early talent in the pipeline, but the reality is that technological innovation is shifting our 21st Century workforce so rapidly that there will be a gap — an expanse between what the modern university can produce and what the modern job market demands.

Through the collection, analysis and sharing of employment data from students, faculty and our industry partners, Steinbright is now connecting our colleagues within the University with industry leaders to drive a culture of continuous improvement. The information we gain from students and employers is already being utilized by academic departments to drive their curricula forward. Individual faculty are conducting research with the data to identify trends in student/employer workplace expectations. But we’re just beginning to scratch the surface in terms of what’s being done with the data — and how it can drive the next generation of students, of leadership in industry, of Drexel University.

One example of how we are making the future happen right now is the Drexel Solutions Institute. Through the institute, we are providing young talent, facilitating project-based learning, and working to retrain people in industry so they can keep up with the digital transformation. Through project-based learning opportunities from industry, the institute is bringing together faculty with multidisciplinary student teams and industry partners to develop business solutions, collaborative research projects and opportunities to retrain the workforce.

Looking forward, we will share the signals we are receiving from industry with our academic partners to enhance curricular change. This feedback loop not only informs curricula but will also enhance co-curricular programming to prepare our students with the soft skills and technical dexterity to excel in future co-ops and careers. This will become part of our DNA, part of our collective culture, part of Drexel University — just as co-op has become part of our DNA.

Co-op has defined Drexel University for the past century, and through enhanced collaboration with our academic and industry partners, it will help redefine Drexel in the next.


Ian P. Sladen
Vice President, Cooperative Education and Career Development
Steinbright Career Development
Drexel University



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