Co-op, Classes Go Hand in Hand to Shape Student's Passion

Joy Olufemi

Joy Olufemi's interest in engineering grew from a straightforward concept: some structures occur naturally, and some are manufactured. When she grew up and learned the difference between the two, she wanted to understand better how we build these manufactured structures.

"I was fortunate that my mother saw this interest and helped cultivate it by enrolling me in science camps during the summer break," she recalled. This head start allowed Olufemi to realize that she wanted to study mechanical engineering. "I chose my major in particular because it is one of the broadest fields in engineering, and I want to be open to working in different industries."

With the co-op program, Olufemi has been able to try her hand at different engineering positions. Her first co-op was at Stonefield Engineering and Design, where she worked as a traffic engineer co-op. Her primary responsibility was to evaluate the impact of a new project development on the existing flow of road traffic. She enjoyed the experience but wanted to learn more about a different area of engineering: building construction.

After returning to campus and taking classes where she learned about HVAC systems, Olufemi’s desire for a job in building construction solidified. For her current co-op, she searched for positions she knew would deal with construction and landed a job at Ballinger as a plumbing engineer intern. She has primarily been learning about plumbing codes, fixtures, drawing pipes into floorplans, and the different kinds of systems that make up a well-functioning plumbing system.

Olufemi has also had the opportunity to learn Autodesk Revit, a building design software. She is looking forward to bringing that expertise back to the classroom.

Overall, Olufemi said that the co-op experience has been an affirming experience.“My jobs have trained me to be a more well-rounded engineer and effective team member who can understand project requirements and meet them,” she said. "They have also affirmed my choice of major. It's one thing to know that mechanical engineering is a broad field; it's another to experience it first-hand.”