The Cooperative Education Program (Co-Op Program) is a professional development program that allows undergraduate students to alternate professional work experiences with classroom coursework.
Students typically complete a total of one year of work at their co-op company by either working continuously for a year or alternating work sessions with academic terms. Co-ops are typically completed during the sophomore or junior years.
Co-op experiences are paid and result in academic credit, although this credit does not apply towards the student’s degree. Co-op students receive an official entry on their transcript for each co-op experience, as well as a certificate of completion at graduation.
Working in a smaller company (Sundrop Fuels), I was able to see many aspects of the business such as how to collect the necessary raw materials needed and how to turn those materials into the desired product. -Andy Willett
The challenges of my co-op at TDA Research enabled me to broaden my understanding and implementation of a problem’s solution. I was also able to develop career goals for my next position. -Tyler Gleditsch
My opportunities at Barafold and Protonex have helped open my eyes to the world of research and to better understand what a career in research would be like. -Sarah Hoyt
Please contact the ChBE Co-op Coordinator with any questions about the program or if your company is interested in participating.
Further general information on co-ops can be found on the College of Engineering and Applied Science Co-op website.
Thank you for considering participation in the ChBE Co-op Program!
“Typically, former co-op students, when hired full time by a previous co-op employer, receive more rapid promotions and have a higher retention rate than non-co-op hires."
—Cooperative Education as a Source of Labor Supply to Firms in the College Labor Market: Analysis of Data from Four Case Study Firms
"Having a co-op at Chevron enables the student to experience several different areas of the company while providing broad visibility for the student among the hiring managers. The student can start to determine what type of work interests him/her which is invaluable when job offers are in front of them. The company can also judge the student's performance and determine where his/her skills fit the best. It is a win-win situation for all involved."
Thad Sauvain, Process Engineering Manager, Chevron
"The CU Co-op Program provides us with young aspiring engineers whose skills and efforts make daily contributions to the success of our organization. Many of our breakthrough developments would not have been possible without the contributions of our CU co-op students."
Rick Dauer, Group Leader, Process Engineering and Automation, Roche Colorado
We asked co-op students to tell us what they did during their work sessions; what skills they gained; to which classes their work provided perspective; how work was different from school; if working multiple work sessions was beneficial; what general learning they gained; and their closing thoughts on co-ops.
CBEN junior John Thilenius is currently finishing up his co-op.
Duties: I worked on long-term projects but also had daily duties to keep the refinery running at its peak efficiency. Some of my projects included debottlenecking a side-cut, optimizing the stripping steam in the atmospheric column, building catalyst loading tools, and working on design projects for international clients. The most interesting thing I learned during my co-op was that how to build a model simulation of a desired refinery for a client through various programs, and use the simulation’s flows and parameters in order to size and design the heat exchangers, columns, and vessels.
Skills gained: Effective collaboration. I also learned to model a refinery through various programs, and use a particular simulation’s flows and parameters in order to size and design the heat exchangers, columns, and vessels. Moreover, the co-op helped show me how the skills I learned in school were used and now I feel I get more out of my classes knowing what to focus on.
Class perspective: Working helped add a lot of perspective to my classes and in particular to heat transfer because knowing how to conserve energy efficiently and applying the right amount needed for various processes is crucial. I started my co-op before I took heat transfer and after working with heat exchangers, fins, and fans in the field, it made the class seem much more beneficial as well as easier.
Work vs. school: When you’re done with work for the day the rest of the day is yours without the stress of tests of homework. You collaborate with many more people and the work you do has a tangible value. There is more of a constructive attitude where something you did might be used and critiqued for years to come.
Multiple sessions: In each session I was able to get a very different perspective of the company and the work I did which I was then able to apply to whatever my current position was. For example, during my first session I worked in the refinery, and so when my second session came around and I started to work for the technology-marketing group TEMA, I was able to take my knowledge of how refineries operated and use that knowledge to help me design them and size the equipment.
General learning: Seeing people from so many different fields working together at Chevron, I really learned how general an engineering degree is. It showed me how crucial internships and co-ops in particular are because they introduce you to fields you are interested in early on. When finally looking for a job, companies can see you have the industry experience and are more familiar with the work.
Closing thoughts: The best part about the co-op program is by far the connections you make and the experience you gain whereas the worst part tends to be taking a break from school; however, it is completely worth it. I don’t believe co-ops are as desired as they should be. I feel so much more confident in my schooling and about my future and in my ability to perform well in the real world after doing a co-op. The positives far outweigh anything else and I would highly recommend it to anyone considering doing one.
CHEN sophomore Andy Willett began his co-op in January of this year.
Duties: A large portion of my co-op has been spent operating a gasification process. My company is also helping me to get a deeper experience by having me spend some time helping build or run other projects.
Skills gained: Acquiring an understanding of how a process is run effectively and how to use and collect data in an effective manner.
Class perspective: I started my co-op when I was a sophomore, so there are still many chemical engineering courses ahead of me that were a mystery to me before my co-op. I feel like now I have a general idea of what to expect when I get to classes like heat transfer and controls.
Work vs. school: In my first two years of school, I felt like I still didn't have a full understanding or what real life chemical engineers do. In my co-op I learned many of the roles that a chemical engineer can play from being an operator of a process to doing the modeling for a process. Moreover, in school you are always working with your peers, but in the workplace your coworkers are often older than you, more experienced, or both. This makes group dynamics at work different from those at school.
Multiple sessions: I am currently working my second consecutive session and I feel that my elongated time with my company has allowed me to bridge the gap between being a short-term intern and being an actual employee. Working for six months straight has allowed me to work on and operate larger projects that I would not likely have been able to tackle if I were around for one term.
General learning: It has been very interesting getting to see first-hand how much effort, thought, and hard work go in to developing a start-up company. Working in a smaller company, I have been able to see many aspects of the business, such as how to collect the necessary raw materials needed and how to turn those materials into the desired product.
Closing thoughts: I know that I am gaining very valuable experience that may set me apart in the hunt for that next internship or job; I also know it will take me some time to get reacquainted upon returning to school after such a long time away. A co-op allows you to take a step forward in your career and see what life would be like in that certain career path and then just as soon as you get a good picture of that field, you get to go back to school and decide if that is where you would like to return when you graduate.
Spring 2013 CHEN graduate Tyler Gleditsch completed a co-op after his sophomore year.
Duties: I operated bench scale testing apparatuses to characterize sorbent and catalyst properties.
Skills gained: Organization. Teamwork. Public speaking. Professionalism. I took the challenges of my co-op and was able to broaden my understanding / implementation of a problem’s solution. I was also able to develop career goals for my next position.
Class perspective: Controls. I basically tuned PID controllers in my co-op and so this material was very interesting to me.
Work vs. school: Work is a place where problems are solved over months and months, while in school you might have 2.5 hours for a final exam. In a workplace, getting the job done correctly is most important; at school, getting the answer fast is important. Work also gives you a better idea of how different types of engineers work together in different roles.
Multiple sessions: Co-ops are awarded more responsibility and more time-consuming problems.
General learning: Research requires a lot of time, effort, money, and the principal investigator is not guaranteed success.
Closing thoughts: I felt that as a student I wasn’t aware of what a chemical engineer’s job was like until my senior year. It’s too bad that more students don’t get this kind of opportunity.
The department offers a Senior Thesis Option as part of its course work. Senior Thesis students work for two consecutive semesters at 2 credit hours per semester on a research project under the supervision of a faculty member. Students are expected to complete a written thesis as well as poster and oral presentations that highlight the progress of their research. The Senior Thesis is listed as CHEN 4010 (first semester) and CHEN 4020 (second semester), and this two-semester sequence may be substituted for Chemical Engineering Laboratory 2 (CHEN 4130).
In order to qualify for Senior Thesis, students must:
1) Complete Chemical Engineering Laboratory 1 (CHEN 3130) with a grade of B or better.
2) Have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.30.
3) Develop a project that is endorsed by a faculty research advisor.
4) Receive the approval of the Department's Senior Thesis Instructor (Professor Stoykovich).
Senior Thesis applications can be obtained in the ChBE office (ECCH 111) or by clicking here.
Students interested in Senior Thesis can contact Professor Mark Stoykovich for more details.
Senior Thesis Guide is also available for student as a reference to time lines and resources.
Undergraduates may register for an independent study project under the supervision of one of our faculty (CHEN 2840, 3840, or 4840). As a general rule of thumb, a three-credit-hour project will require 9 hours of research work per week. The independent study project course counts as a technical elective. These opportunities allow for individual contact with faculty and graduate students, and they provide a hands-on educational experience that cannot be obtained in the traditional classroom setting. Undergraduates are strongly encouraged to take advantage of these opportunities, especially if interested in graduate school or a career in scientific research.
The Independent Study Agreement and Application can be found under the "Forms" drop down box within the College of Engineering and Applied Science advising page.
Another mechanism for undergraduates to perform independent research is to work on a project for pay on an hourly basis, either part-time during the academic year or full-time during the summer.
The Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels (C2B2) works in collaboration with the National Science Foundation to offer a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) summer program. The C2B2 program provides students with the opportunity to work at one of the four partnered institutions including the federal National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Colorado School of Mines, the University of Colorado at Boulder and Colorado State University. The video below captures student work and opinions from the Summer 2010 C2B2/NSF REU program.
Angela Helstern: Many different types of medical devices are used in the body (i.e. tissue, pace makers, ect.). The implants effectiveness can be reduced by immune responses by the body. This response forms a collagen shell around the implant, changing how it performs its function. My research hopes to prevent this immune response by attaching PEG with degradable linkers to proteins in hope of suppressing macrophage response. As the protein is released, factors in the gel scaffold will allow tissue to grow or tissue function to be enhanced. Other factors will determine how quickly the protein is released to allow the proper rate of recovery to be achieved in the patient.
Dan Bates: Two major issues involving protein based theraputics are the stability and immunogenicity of the drugs in packaging. My research project has focused on the behavior of large protein therapeutics in the presence of water-silicone oil mixtures. The information that we are gathering has implications which may affect how protein based drugs are formulated and packaged into syringes. The ultimate goal of the research, and Prof. Randolph's group, is to help ensure that these amazingly helpful proteins remain safe and effective as they move from production to administration to patients.
Keith Beers: Metal-Insulator-Semiconductor (MIS) sensors can be used to detect the concentration of hydrogen gas in a flow system. The presence of other gases like carbon dioxide and acetylene can change the nature of this response. My research looks at the effects of hydrogen sulfide exposure to this change in response. Monte Carlo simulation code is being developed to describe these surface processes in hopes of better understanding the chemical basis for the change in response of the sensor.
Klarika Douves: In a patient with pathological pain, the spinal glial cells overproduce pro-inflammatory immune system messengers. The protein IL-10 has been shown to suppress the inflammation, temporarily reducing pain. My research uses a model of IL-10 and attaches PEG to the protein, improving stability and survivability in the body. The bioactivity and half-life of PEGylated model protien relative to unPEGylated both in vitro and in vivo will be characterized, and any conclusions drawn can be used to improve the effectiveness of IL-10 treatments.
Margarite Parker: Water is a potential source of hydrogen for a clean burning fossil fuel alternative. However, generating hydrogen with minimal environmental impact is a difficult task. My research involves reacting water vapor with a zinc catalyst to generate hydrogen gas. We are taking the partial pressure of hydrogen to determine the actual amount produced, compared to what would be produced in an ideal reaction, and ascertain the temperature and flow rates that would produce the best results. Optimization of these parameters would allow for the highest amount of hydrogen to be products as possible, bringing us one step closer to a cleaner way to generate energy.
The College of Engineering and Applied Science has general page discussing the Engineering Honors Program. To learn more, visit the Engineering Honors Program's Main Page.
The University offers a variety of Academic Enrichment Programs.
Chemical and Biological Engineering Department:
Mark Stoykovich, Ph.D.
College of Engineering:
Scot Douglass, Ph.D.
Faculty Director, Engineering Honors Program
Carry out part of your studies in another country!
Study Abroad encourages ChBE students to consider this opportunity, given the international nature of most large chemical and engineering corporations and international cooperation in scientific and engineering research. Many faculty members have significant international experience.
Because of the more specialized courses later in the curriculum, we advise considering a semester abroad as early as possible.
If you are interested in studying abroad, please read more about the study abroad program discuss your options with the ChBE undergraduate advisor.
The concurrent BS/MS program in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering enables especially well-qualified students to work concurrently towards a BS in Chemical Engineering or Chemical and Biological Engineering and a MS degree in Chemical Engineering. Students are admitted into the program during the spring of their junior year and begin planning a graduate program. This program allows for early planning of the MS portion of the student’s education, taking graduate courses as part of their BS degree requirements. Up to six credit hours may be counted towards both the BS and MS degree programs.
Application for admission into the BS/MS program may be made at any time during or after the student enters his or her junior year. The application deadline for fall admission is February 1st. The deadline for spring admission is October 1st. The minimum requirements for the application to the BS/MS program are:
Completion of the following five CHEN core courses with a minimum grade of B- in each course: CHEN 2120, CHEN 3200, CHEN 3210, CHEN 3320, CHEN 3010;
A minimum overall GPA of 3.25;
A minimum GPA of 3.0 in CHEN course work;
Provide a one-page Statement of Purpose. The statement should describes briefly your past work in the field, including noncourse educational experiences, teaching , or other relevant employment, publication, theses, research in progress, other scholarly activities, and your plans for graduate study and a professional career;
Complete the Concurrent Degree Application;
Provide an unofficial transcript;
Completion of MAPS requirement.
Applications will not be accepted that do not meet the minimum requirements for admission.
Once admitted to the program, the student must maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 and a GPA of 3.0 in all CHEN undergraduate and graduate courses to remain in good academic standing. Students must be enrolled full-time (12 credit hours per semester for undergraduate standing and 5 credit hours per semester for graduate standing). Students may remain under undergraduate standing throughout the program, but can elect to be admitted into the graduate school once a student has completed the 128 credit hours of course work required for a BS degrees.
Undergraduate requirements: A total of 128 credit hours is required, which include 88 credit hours of required technical courses, 18 credit hours of technical and chemistry electives, 18 credit hours of humanities & social science courses, including electives, and 4 credit hours of free electives.
Master’s degree requirements: A total of 30 credit hours is required including 10 credit hours of required technical courses in Chemical Engineering (described below) and of which 15 credit hours must be in Chemical Engineering. A maximum of 6 credit hours of courses at the 3000 level and above in another department may count towards the MS degree; however, only 5000 level and above in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department may be applied towards the MS degree. Pass/fail courses do not count towards the degree. Only those courses for which the student receives a grade of B- or better will count toward the MS degree. Students undertaking the thesis option may take 4-6 credit hours of MS thesis, but at least 24 credit hours of course work are required.
CHEN 5090: Seminar in Chemical and Biological Engineering (only offered Pass/Fail)
CHEN 5210: Transport Phenomena
CHEN 5740: Analytical Methods
One of the following core courses: CHEN 5370: Intermediate Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics or CHEN 5390: Chemical Reaction Engineering
Overlapping of courses: A maximum of 6 credit hours of graduate work may be applied to the BS degree.
Are you interested in being a TA for a course?
The Earn-Learn Apprenticeship Program in the College of Engineering and Applied Science at CU-Boulder provides financial support for students while they work part-time within the college. Examples of available positions include providing lab or course support, tutoring, preparing educational materials, and participating in outreach activities with K-12 students.
Learn more at the College's Earn-Learn Program.