Professional Extracurricular Activities
Students at Cooper are motivated by a desire to make an impact that benefits society and humanity. Their engagement with societal issues, their eagerness to build and experiment, and their questioning of the status quo all reach far beyond the classroom. A Cooper engineering education is about creating hands-on opportunities to solve problems and discover possibilities in a world where innovation in technology is shaping every aspect of our lives.
Through competitive clubs and teams, internships, summer study abroad programs, honor societies, and professional organizations, students develop more than just a technical specialization—they learn how to: communicate clearly, think critically, work collaboratively, manage change, draw expertise from a range of disciplines.
The role and influence of technological innovation on the human experience has fundamentally changed in the recent past. Historically, technology played a secondary and supportive role while social, economic, political and cultural dimensions played a primary role. Consequently, the skills, knowledge, and experiences of those who will lead in this new environment are changing. According to a recent survey, industry leaders are looking for employees to do more than perform well as skilled professionals. They also want them to anticipate external issues—such as public policies and regulation, and the convergence of technologies—that affect their disciplines and fields of interest. Organizations also place high value on the ability to work collaboratively— with fellow professionals, stakeholders, and others—to create comprehensive, balanced, and effective initiatives and solutions.
The ability to create diverse and well-aligned partnerships will be a hallmark of successful leaders in our fields. Similarly, tomorrow’s technology leaders must work as synthesists—individuals who can draw expertise from an array of disciplines and bring that knowledge to bear on multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary problems. A successful leader in such an environment will require not only disciplinary knowledge but also modern professional skills, including written and oral communications, teamwork, critical thinking, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Some have called this the rise of the “T-shaped” individual, referring to deep knowledge of a single field of interest coupled with other broad abilities and a firm grounding in collaboration.
Consequently, it is important to provide deep technical expertise through our course and curriculum design while also fostering opportunities to practice this expertise and develop professional skills through extracurricular activities. Our engineering curriculum includes rigorous preparation in mathematics and natural sciences, an emphasis on project-based learning, strong integration of undergraduate research, and rich opportunities for undergraduates to take graduate-level coursework. Our academic curriculum embodies the vertical bar on the letter T—the depth of related skills and expertise in a single field—while our professional extracurricular activities develop the ability to collaborate horizontally across disciplines and apply broad knowledge in areas of expertise other than one’s own.