Bringing co-op experience into the classroom

Case studies from work terms help engineering students solve real-world problems

By Lyndia Stacey

Waterloo Cases in Design Engineering

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While case studies have long been used to educate business students about problems in the business world, at the University of Waterloo they’re also being used by engineering students to learn about real-world problems that come up during their peers’ work terms.

Waterloo Cases in Design Engineering (WCDE) together with the Co-Operative Education and Career Action (CECA) are helping engineering students learn from the knowledge and skills they gain during co-op terms by developing case studies from student work term reports. In fact, the majority of the 170 case studies available to classroom instructors come from work terms.

Not only do students have the opportunity to share their technical experience from co-op and learn from their peers, this feedback loop is sustainable as the case studies are used across different engineering disciplines and terms. Since 2010, thousands of students have benefited from the use of these cases in class.

When I see a case study in class and it's done by a fellow co-op student here at the University of Waterloo, I find it very intriguing. It's content that's based on another student's experience while they are at work, yet it's applicable to me in class,” says Michael Chiu, an electrical engineering student.

Michael Chiu

Electrical engineering student Michael Chiu 

 

Watch the video below to see how case studies are increasing the impact of students’ co-operative education from the perspective of industry partners, instructors and students.