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Lucas Dodson walking along mountain pathWhile completing a co-op placement with the Schaeffler Group in Germany, engineering student Lucas Dodson explored more than 20 countries, including this trip through the Swiss Alps.

Overseas co-op placement provides life-changing experience

A life-changing experience wasn’t exactly what Dustin Rivard was expecting when he embarked upon a co-op placement as a test engineer in a bearing department.

As a mechanical engineering student, he jumped at the chance to work in Germany for a year with the Schaeffler Group, a global automotive and industrial supplier, figuring it would be a great opportunity to work and travel.

“I rave about this opportunity to every engineering student I know,” says Rivard (BASc 2017). “First, I tell everyone they need to do co-op; It provides you with the connections that help you get the career you want, not to mention just giving you experience. Second, the chance to live and work in another country for a year turned into an incredible, life-changing experience.”

His rigorous training at Schaeffler landed him a job with the company’s product development department in Troy, Mich., and then at its headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Rivard recalls while sitting in his apartment nestled in a small Bavarian town lined with cobblestone paths and bustling cafés.

The Schaeffler Group co-op partnership with the University of Windsor, established in 1998 by the engineering professor Peter Frise, has sent more than 200 engineering, business, and computer science students to gain 12 months of real-word experience in Germany.

Lucas Dodson, a third-year industrial engineering student, just completed his co-op placement in Schaeffler’s advanced development department.

“One of the best parts about working for a large company abroad is getting to learn about and experience a whole new culture in the professional world,” he says. “Another great part is how much Germans value a strong work-life balance.”

Kristen Morris, UWindsor’s manager of co-operative education and workplace partnerships, says the Schaeffler work abroad experience is truly transformative.

“Students come back forever changed,” she says. “More open to new cultures and able to see their life and career through a new lens while gaining a year’s worth of paid, relevant work experience at an organization that is committed to student learning and growth.”

Find the full version of this article in the latest issue of WE, the Faculty of Engineering’s annual magazine.

—Kristie Pearce

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