Melissa Taylor is a senior mechanical engineering major with a minor in bioengineering. She had a total of three co-op semesters with Cook Medical, in Bloomington, Ind.
Flyer News: What was the co-op interviewing process like?
Melissa Taylor: It seemed really overwhelming at the beginning. Cook was a little different than some companies, because they screened you by resume first and then choose the candidates that they were going to interview on campus, and I actually got screened out by them and begged and begged and finally got an interview chance. Then they came on campus for the interviews and they were super laid back, they brought some products with them and were showing me how to use them. Then a week later they had me come out and do an on-site interview. So I went out there and that interview was very overwhelming. It was four interviews all back-to-back with different engineers, each half an hour long. And then an interview with their director of new hires and co-ops. After four you feel like you’re saying the same thing to every person, it was very overwhelming.
FN: What does Cook make?
MT: All small devices for minimally invasive surgeries. They make stints for peripheral artery disease, grafts for aortic aneurisms and a lot of catheters and tubing that are used in these procedures.
FN: What did they have you do?
MT: I was in manufacturing engineering there so really my main job was to investigate and fix production related issues. The first semester I did more production fixturing, adapting machines to make them safer and more efficient for the operators. The second time I did more process engineering. We were having trouble with a specific process’ output so I was looking at what could be changed between machine settings and how the operators were actually performing the task and so we made that more efficient to make a better product.
FN: Do you think your co-op was closely related to what you are studying?
MT: Yes! The production engineering gave me more of the mechanical side and then since it was production for medical devices I got the bioengineering side of it, too. It was really exactly what I was looking for when I picked my major. The medical stuff gives the work more meaning, not that another engineering job wouldn’t, but you know more of the direct effect you are having on
FN: Why do you think having a co-op was so valuable?
MT: I can say I have a year’s worth of experience as an engineer. Cook does not really treat their co-ops as interns or students. I had my own projects, I made my own decisions and took them in the direction that I wanted to instead of just doing small tasks for other people. The things I can tell people I’ve done are impressive for someone that doesn’t have a degree.
FN: What advice do you have for other students in applying for co-ops or internships?
MT: Take a chance on an internship. Because I was really nervous, I was a sophomore, I had never really lived by myself, I didn’t know what the company or the job was going to be like. But I took the chance and I loved it. Interview as many places as you can, don’t just count anyone out.
FN: Do you feel that your education so far at UD prepared you well for your co-op?
MT: Yes. There are things that are not necessarily applicable, like theorems that you learn in class, but little things like how to use different machinery like the lathe and the mill, that really helped with my co-op and just knowing the critical thinking process. I did not feel under prepared when I went there, which I thought I was going to.
FN: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
MT: Cook has a really unique program called the intern patent club. We got real projects that the company had deemed important and we brainstormed to create as many devices and ideas as we could. After doing some real low-level prototyping, we filled out invention disclosures and submitted them to the patent office. From my time at Cook I submitted 12 invention disclosures and as of now three are going on for actual patent applications so within 10 years I’ll probably have three patents that I got as an intern.
FN: What was the hardest part about co-oping?
MT: At the beginning I wasn’t confident enough in what I know and could do so I would ask for help on everything, then I slowly started to realize that the answer they gave me was what I was going to do anyway, so the hardest part for me was building the confidence that just because you’re young or just because you don’t have a degree yet doesn’t mean you don’t know anything.