From Crayons to Coatings: Co-ops Define Student's Major, Career Choice

Morgan Tiziker

Drexel’s study programs are known for being unique. Options include a semester track alongside one and three co-op options. For students unsure about their career paths, co-op offers the opportunity for students to find their footing in their ideal career. It took Morgan Tiziker, a fourth-year majoring Materials Science and Engineering and minoring in Product Design, a few co-op experiences to find her path. Through her work experience, she’s been able to forge a career path and a degree to go with it.

Tiziker was originally considering majoring in product design, but ultimately decided on materials science and engineering. She began her first co-op experience at Crayola in research and development, and after spending six months testing new products, she reconsidered studying product design.

“I was fortunate enough to attend a meeting involving many cross-functional teams—design, engineering, packaging, R&D, etc.—where the employees were tasked with coming up with concepts for new products and processes,” she said. “The atmosphere of innovation and creativity was almost palpable, and I knew I wanted some sense of that in my college career through a [product design] minor.”

After gaining an interest in polymers, she landed a second co-op formulating, testing, and evaluating house paints at Solvay. Known as architectural coatings in the industry, house paints are formulated with binders like latex, which are added to the paints via emulsion polymerization. In her co-op, Tiziker monitored the corrosion of paints applied to steel, in order to improve paints for bridges and other outdoor structures.

“My co-op at Solvay has further emphasized one of my career goals to be involved in the science [and] engineering side of companies,” said Tiziker. The final piece of the puzzle for her is incorporating sustainability into designs, such as creating compostable products.

Right now, Tiziker is on the search for her third and final co-op. She says that Drexel’s unique college experience has helped her not only find an engaging career path but has prepared her for the postgrad job search with over a year of experience in her major.

“Initially, I was hesitant to enroll in a five-year program as opposed to a traditional four-year one,” she said, “but the benefits far outweigh the downside of graduating a year after the peers I finished high school with. I feel incredibly comfortable and confident joining the workforce, and I owe my assuredness to Drexel’s co-op program.”