student building with industrial machine
Co-op & Experiential Learning

Combining rigorous academics with experiential learning opportunities

Northeastern’s approach to education combines rigorous academics with experiential learning anchored by our world-renowned cooperative education program. Experiential learning encompasses our co-op program as well as project-based learning, research, global experiences, service learning, and student organizations.


Research Experiences

Research is an integral part of our experiential learning portfolio at Northeastern. Our undergraduate and graduate students are gaining real-world experience by working with our faculty to uncover innovative solutions to solve today’s pressing global challenges. There are a wide range of opportunities for students from co-op and study abroad experiences, to working alongside faculty in their labs, as well as part of our research centers.

Making a Positive Impact through Research

Katherine Graham, E’21, mechanical engineering, shares her experience working with the ALERT research center and her interest in security-related projects. Katherine, who works with Assistant Professor Jose Martinez-Lorenzo, walks us through the SICA lab (Multi-wave Sensing, Imaging, Control, and Actuation Laboratory) and describes her work as a mechanical engineer for the "On-the-Move Threat Detection System" project.

Living His Dream After Co-op

Ethan Flynn, BS, mechanical engineering, says co-op sets you up for the future. He completed three co-ops in his 4.5 years at Northeastern: Sikorsky working on Black Hawk helicopters, NASA JPL working on the Mars Rover 2020, and at SpaceX, which he converted to a full time position!

Industrial Engineering Co-op in China

Ryan Brady, BS in industrial engineering had his first co-op at Staples on the data management supply chain team, which helped his expand his knowledge in analytical data tools. With that experience he also landed co-ops at Apple and a firm in China.

Co-op Led to Job Offer Before Graduation

Sharon Melul Steinfeld, BS, industrial engineering and MS, Engineering Management, completed co-ops at Hasbro as a project engineer on the Transformer toy line, and at PriceWaterhouseCoopers as a management consultant for company mergers. Sharon got a full time job offer 18 months before graduating and contributes this to her co-op opportunities.

Cooperative Education

Both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to participate in co-op, where students can gain up to eight months of industry experience each co-op as part of the academic program while helping to finance their education.  Ninety percent of undergraduates participate in co-op and they typically do two to three six-month co-ops.

Cooperative education assignments increase in responsibility and technical challenge as students progress through the program. Entry level co-op positions in mechanical engineering may be in manufacturing, quality assurance and testing, or involve 3-D CAD modeling, while more advanced-level positions will allow students to gain experience in the design process, including advanced 3-D modeling, design for manufacturability, prototyping, and systems engineering.

Students in the industrial engineering discipline may utilize co-op to concentrate on one industry segment and build an increasingly technical skill set with each experience or explore the breadth of career opportunities over the course of several co-op rotations such as healthcare process improvement, supply chain logistics, business analytics, manufacturing operations, and more.

  • Schedule: Undergraduate students work for 6 months, from January – June and July – December. Graduate students work for 4, 6, or 8 months at a time depending on the position and the student’s availability.
  • Hours: Co-op positions are full time (40 hr/wk) during which time the student has no obligations to the school, but is focused full time on their employment – making a substantial contribution to their employer while simultaneously learning and applying course work taken to date.
  • Pay: Co-ops are paid positions, with the wage determined by the employer. Co-op Coordinators collect wage information at least once a year and will share average pay ranges with employers in order to stay competitive.
  • Students: We meet with students to prepare them for co-op and advise them on career related matters. As faculty members, we teach co-op and career-related courses and work with students one-on-one.
  • Employers: We also work closely with companies to develop quality co-op positions for our students that also provide a contribution to the employer. In order to make hiring easier, we want to understand the type of candidate hiring managers are looking for and screen candidates.
  • Creating a Position: To get started in the hiring process, employers are required to complete and submit a job description to post a job.
  • Deadlines: Job descriptions are due at the end of January and the end of September for the Spring and Fall terms, respectively. Employers who have missed the deadlines are still encouraged to reach a coordinator, as the placement cycle takes several months and we may still have candidates available.

More Employer Information

Hands-on Teaching Labs

A variety of teaching labs with state-of-the-art equipment allow students to explore materials, mechanics, dynamics, measurements, and more.

Featured Experiences

group of dozen-plus students at helm of boat holding New Zealand flag

Global Experiences

Mechanical and industrial engineering faculty led a Dialogues of Civilization seven-week summer program "Exploring Engineering, History, and Culture in New Zealand." They visited two hydropower plants and had two six-day excursions visiting several sites throughout the country. A variety of other Dialogues of Civilization programs are available as well as global co-op, research and study abroad opportunities.

large group of students with baja vehicle

Student Organizations and Service Learning

The NU Motorsports Baja team competes nationally and has won many top prizes! The College of Engineering has over 50 student organizations for graduate and undergraduate students.

Student Experiences

Jared Covell

Resilience Leads to Co-op at Tesla

When the co-op of Jared Covell, E’22, mechanical engineering, was canceled by the pandemic, he ended up working as a design engineer at a dream company for mechanical engineering, Tesla, with the support, mentoring and network of connections of his co-op coordinator. As a project lead on Tesla’s Drive Systems Structures team, Covell modeled components for a dynamometer assembly used to test a new electric motor. He led design reviews among the company’s structures, lubrication, and motor teams — then applied their feedback to optimize his models in the next iteration.

Creating Synthetic Bone Graft Materials

Biochemistry student Morgan Pfaff is working with MIE Associate Professor Randall Erb and Post-Doctoral Researcher Jessica Faust to create synthetic materials for bone graft applications. She’s building better bones while encouraging diversity in science Main photo: Morgan Pfaff, who studies biochemistry, conducts biomaterial research for bone graft applications in Egan Research Center. Pfaff recently received […]

Curious Childhood Leads to Building Next Generation Toys

Always driven to see how things worked, mechanical engineering student Amanda Vasconcelos, E’22, now uses those talents to build better toys while working on co-op at Hasbro.

Combining Energy and Leadership Programs to Make an Impact

AbdurRehman Rashid, ME’20, energy systems, and certificate in engineering leadership, knew early on that he wanted to make the world a better place through engineering. Growing up in Pakistan, at 18 he moved to Medford, Massachusetts, to attend Tufts University for his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering, which he completed in 2016. After working for […]