York College Mechanical Engineering grad says co-ops prepared him for challenges in his field
Before even finishing his degree, Tyler Laucks spent two years honing his engineering skills for a global, multi-million-dollar company during a cooperative work experience program.
When he graduated from York College of Pennsylvania in 2015, that company – American Hydro Corporation, a leading supplier and installer of large equipment for the hydroelectric industry – hired Laucks as an engineer.
Both parties credit York College’s co-op program for a successful match. It's one of only a few engineering programs nationwide that require all its students to participate in three co-ops. Laucks finished two of his three with American Hydro.
“We end up being able to get some of the top students. They are hitting the ground running and have already had months of training on our software and systems,” said Joe Druck, chief design engineer at American Hydro. “When they step in the door, they are productive from day one.”
York College 'keeps raising the bar'
Druck said his company has reaped the benefits of the co-op program over its 20-year relationship with the school.
“We have hired people through co-ops who aren’t from York College, and it’s a night-and-day difference,” he said. “York College keeps raising the bar.”
Druck said 11 members of his staff at American Hydro were in co-ops, and six of those are York College graduates.
“I have really seen the benefit of it from beginning to end because we find such talented people,” he said.
While the co-op allows a company to evaluate a potential employee, it also shows that student about the company. In the case of Laucks and American Hydro, it was a perfect match.
“When I first started the co-op, I got along with everyone really well. Not just going to work every day – but on a personal level,” he said. “The whole engineering department is close-knit, and we share a lot of hobbies.”
Druck understands the importance of someone being comfortable in their work. It’s another way the co-op program with York College works for students and for employers.
“Think about it: How much time do you spend with your coworkers?” Druck asked. “I have zero personality conflicts because we know ahead of time what we are getting. It’s important for the employee, and it makes my job as a manager quite a bit easier.”
While Laucks’ time in the classroom prepared him for the many challenges of a career in engineering, the co-ops gave him a different element of experience.
“The first thing you learn is how engineers operate in the business world,” he said.
Now a full-time member of the workforce, Laucks sees his work at American Hydro as more than just a job.
“I think the coolest thing I enjoy is that I’m not just sitting at a computer designing equipment,” Laucks said. “You learn to solve problems – and not just engineering problems. So much of what I’ve learned is applied to everyday life.”