New Co-Op Engineering Program Leads Donohue to Barbecue Competition
September 23, 2013   //   By:   //   Real-world Learning
Meghan Donahue serving BBQ

Image courtesy of

When junior Meghan Donohue began her co-op this past spring at Johnson & Johnson in nearby Lititz, Pa., the double major became the first engineering student to ever do so. Donohue’s other major is mathematics. The co-op, which Donohue participated in through the summer, requires a full-time paid position that is completed by students in lieu of classes.

In the spring 2012 semester, Tim Kuhn from Johnson & Johnson contacted the College’s engineering program. The company works with other schools and Kuhn, an Elizabethtown resident, was familiar with the College. Dr. Kurt DeGoede, professor of engineering and physics, worked with Jane Nini, director of career services, to begin a new five-year engineering program, including two seven-month co-op experiences.

Currently, Johnson & Johnson is the only company partnered with the College’s co-op program. “We expect the program to grow,” DeGoede said. “Ten companies have already contacted the school and expressed interest.” As more incoming classes are aware of the program, DeGoede expects the number of interested students to increase as well. Currently, participants are Donohue and junior Patrick Kelly. Kelly’s co-op started this summer and continues through the fall. “The incoming freshmen class knows about the program, so they are more likely to take advantage of it,” DeGoede said.

They don’t just get a snapshot of the process.”

DeGoede’s students will lead engineering projects from the very beginning of their co-op giving students the opportunity to see the complete project process between the two rotations. “They don’t just get a snapshot of the process,” DeGoede said. In undergraduate programs, students learn problem solving and gain theoretical background. Real-world experiences, such as the co-op program, allow students to apply these skills in non-academic settings.

In the competitive job field, networking is essential. Donohue’s first co-op rotation has already proven to be beneficial as she had the opportunity to become professionally and personally connected to her coworkers. Her co-op even exposed her to non-traditional engineering opportunities.

Donohue was asked by coworkers to join their competition barbecue team, Engineered Smoke. Beyond engineering, all members have a passion for barbequing and grilling. The two-year-old team experiments with new recipes and hosts practice barbecues for friends and family members. Donohue’s participation focuses on documenting the barbecue preparation process. “I love hanging out with the team outside of work,” Donohue said. “It’s always a fun time.”

This summer, Engineered Smoke participated in three competitions. One aided the National Hemophilia Foundation; the second supported the SPCA. Most recently, the team competed at the New Holland Summer Fest held Aug. 23 and 24, in which the team’s most successful category was Chef’s Choice. Engineered Smoke prepared a chocolate crème brulee. “After eating meat all day, Donohue said, “we wanted to give the judges something new to taste.”

About the Author :

Megan Leppo is a graduate of Elizabethtown College and past NOW staff writer.

Leave a reply