Engineering student makes the most of summer co-op
A mechanical engineering major from Tennessee Tech University capitalized on the chance he was offered at Tech’s recent engineering career fair. He obtained a cooperative education opportunity at Tenneco, a manufacturer of brake pads and braking components, located in Smithville, Tennessee.
Benjamin Guest, originally from Tampa, Florida, moved to Tennessee with a grocery company, but then elected to change career paths and go back to school for engineering. He will graduate in 2024 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering with a concentration in vehicle engineering.
“I knew I’d be building something strong with Tech on my resume for engineering, and at the lowest cost in the state,” Guest said.
Guest’s co-op consists of both prototyping and manufacturing. It involves creating and testing materials for new brake products, and when they are approved for production, it involves applying process engineering for high quality mass production.
He works on brake pads, other braking components, and he analyzes brake performance, durability, and quality. They are currently working to make brake pads for the Ford F-Series trucks. This work aligns perfectly with his major, according to Guest.
“This opportunity came about from introducing myself to Tenneco at the Tech engineering career fair. I learned about the career fair, and its benefits from Sonya and Russ in the Center for Career Development,” Guest said.
Russ Coughenour, director, and Sonja Higgenbotham, assistant director, are part of the staff in Tech’s Center for Career Development. This office connects students and alumni with employers by organizing on-campus interviews, hosting annual career fairs, and overseeing the cooperative education program, which provides students with real-world work experience in their chosen major.
Co-op is a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Students have the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections in the professional field they are considering as a career path.
This is Guest’s second co-op opportunity, his first was with Bridgestone Americas in Morrison, Tennessee, which is the world's largest tire and rubber company. In addition to tires, Bridgestone manufactures other diversified products.
“I recommend two different experiences to prepare for the professional field,” Guest said.
He plans on continuing this current co-op into 2023, then returning to campus to finish his degree. Beyond that, he’s looking at a potential master's degree in engineering or business.
“First and foremost, my number one goal is to work both somewhere I love, and on something I love. I appreciate the co-op experiences because it provides knowledge and experience to help check that top priority off,” Guest said. “The automotive field really excites me, and I’ve enjoyed the work. I plan on going as far and as high as possible in it, just so I can understand what I love, inside and out, and that’s the automobile.”