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Co-op Scholars Program Expands

Sophomores from All Colleges Participate

UMass Lowell Image, by Dyan Ciccone
Kristin Gallas, program manager for educational development at the Tsongas Industrial History Center, discusses the Moody Street Feeder video animation project with engineering co-op scholars Matthew Theriault and Marcelle Durrenberger, and Linda Barrington, coordinator of service learning at UMass Lowell.

By Dyan Ciccone

Matthew Theriault and Marcelle Durrenberger have just finished their freshman year and are already gaining valuable work experience.

As part of their summer co-op scholarships, engineering sophomores Theriault (plastics) and Durrenberger (mechanical) will help create a computer-generated animated video illustrating how the historic Moody Street Feeder, built in 1847, was designed to work, and how just two men were able to lift its 1,000 pound gates.

Theriault and Durrenberger are among the 225 undergraduate students in the class of 2015 who are participating in the new Research, Community and Enterprise Co-op Scholars program throughout the summer and the upcoming academic year.

This large, first official class of co-op scholars represents the University’s commitment to providing paid experiential learning opportunities for freshman and sophomore students. Just one year ago, John Ting, dean of the Francis College of Engineering, offered 21 summer positions to engineering sophomores who had maintained a 3.0 GPA during their freshman year, to kick off the pilot program.

This summer, 82 sophomore students from across the five colleges will be working on a diverse array of campus and community projects involving organic chemistry, atmospheric science and climate change, business and radio broadcasting and the Lowell Association for the Blind (LAB). Last year’s scholars are on campus again this summer to mentor the new students. The remaining 143 students will work in co-op scholar jobs during the academic year.

Director of Campus Research Co-ops Adrianna Morris hosted a welcome breakfast last week for the 82 summer co-op scholar students and their faculty and community advisers, and says it is exciting to see the pilot program successfully developed into a “real program” for the University’s high-merit scholars. 

“This is an exciting initiative that is strongly supported by our Provost, Vice Provost for Research and others at the University as it offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, to be able to test the waters within your majors in a safe environment,” Morris says. “Students will also be able to see how what they learn in the classroom can be applied to impact their world, and this is a unique and appealing part of their educational experience at UMass Lowell.”

The limitless opportunities for co-op scholars is very appealing to Theriault and Durrenberger.

“I’m excited to get a jumpstart in research because it helps you to get ahead,” Theriault says.

Durrenberger says that one of the most exciting things about the opportunity is networking.

“This co-op will allow me to network between multidisciplinary groups,” she says. “Each aspect of my projects uses a different field, and that’s really exciting.”

In addition to their work on the Moody Street Feeder video, Theriault and Durrenberger also will be assisting with an National Science Foundation-sponsored research project involving the SLICE (Service-Learning Integrated throughout the College of Engineering) program. Durrenberger will be taking part in two additional projects: the planning of July's Sports Engineering Conference, and a solar project, in which she will work alongside a UMass Lowell alumnus.

Visit the Experiential Learning website to learn more about the exciting co-operative educational opportunities at UMass Lowell.