Healthcare Group Leader, Isherwood on Life as an MEP Engineering Co-Op

Jun 23, 2016 1:40:17 PM

What is a Co-Op?

In today’s working world, having on-the-job experience will set you apart from other candidates in your industry. One way to do that is by obtaining a summer job or internship at a company that specializes in your area of study. This will give you experience as well as the ability to develop relationships that could last a lifetime.

In occupations like engineering, this program is sometimes referred to as a CO-OP program. Peter Basso Associates hires CO-OP’s year-round using the program as a tool for recruiting and assisting students in pursuing their education in engineering. A true CO-OP program allows the student to be evaluated and to evaluate the company, which benefits the company as well as the student, by providing them with an invaluable learning experience.

My Co-Op Experience

While attending the University of Detroit, it was mandatory to participate in three CO-OP terms in order to graduate. As an incoming student, I was enticed by this program and was eager to not only work in a professional environment, but to be able to earn money, while attending school. 

My first CO-OP experience was at PPG paints as a low-paid, third shift paint blender. It was not glamorous, nor did it really have anything to do with mechanical engineering. It did however help pay for my next term at college, and it taught me that I didn’t want to be a paint blender. Unfortunately, when I got back together with my friends at school, I learned several others also had “non-glamorous” experiences.

My second CO-OP term was with a small engineering firm of about six employees. Gil Gatchel, owner and teacher at Gatchel Associates, piqued my interest and provided me the opportunity to learn in a professional engineering environment. This experience encouraged me to continue on my career path to becoming an engineer.

My third and final CO-OP term was with Hoyem-Basso. Gordon Hoyem was an architect and at the time, he had teamed with engineer, Pete Basso. Years after working at Hoyem-Basso I would reunite with my colleagues to continue my career at Peter Basso Associates.

What to Expect as a PBA Co-Op

Peter Basso Associates (PBA) is an engineering firm that works with a diverse range of architectural firms. As a CO-OP at PBA, you will be introduced to a wide range of engineering applications and be able to apply the skills you’ve learned in school. Each term with PBA will bring new challenges and opportunities. Keep in mind, that most of the engineers you will be working alongside were also once PBA CO-OP’s, therefore they understand some of the struggles you may encounter during the program. Not all CO-OP’s will return to work full-time at PBA, however the skills you’ve during your CO-OP program, will definitely help build your resume for whichever career path you choose to take.

What Do you Need to Do?

About 3 - 4 months before you’re ready to work, go to and find the application section. Fill out an application and send it in. 

What is Your Experience?

If you’ve had a CO-OP experience at PBA or another employer, tell us how it was – we’d love to hear from you! If you’re just starting your CO-OP experience at PBA or another firm, we wish you the best of luck. Just remember, your experience may be the first step you take towards an exciting and challenging career in engineering.

More about Peter Basso Associates

Peter Basso Associates (PBA) excels at highly technical, challenging projects, and our in-depth knowledge of best practices extends across multiple markets. Recognized as a leader in mechanical/electrical/plumbing engineering, PBA is at the forefront of application of new technology. We focus on cost-effective solutions that pay returns over the life of the facility, balancing performance with cost. In 2015, PBA celebrated its 25th anniversary. Headquartered in Troy, Michigan, the firm also has an office in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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