As a freshman, mechanical engineering major Matt Macioci wasn’t sure the Professional Cooperative Education Program was right for him. He was determined to earn his degree as quickly as possible, and a six-month co-op seemed like a speed bump on that path. But at a friend’s urging, Macioci attended one of the Career and Co-op Center’s information sessions and learned a little more about the benefits of the program.

“I’m so glad I did it,” says Macioci, who as a sophomore landed a six-month co-op as a Manufacturing Design Engineer at Teradyne, a leading supplier of automation equipment for test and industrial applications.

“I got a lot of software experience there, which was a huge benefit,” says Macioci, who worked primarily with the 3D CAD design software SolidWorks at the company’s North Reading headquarters. “That put me ahead in a lot of my classes.”

Macioci enjoyed the co-op experience so much that he decided to do another one his junior year — with his sights set squarely on New Balance. 

Six months later, Macioci was working on the Manufacturing Innovation Team, which is responsible for coming up with new designs and materials that leverage the latest breakthroughs in technology, such as 3-D printing of midsoles.

“Obviously it’s geared toward shoes,” he says of his co-op at the company’s massive 525,000-square-foot factory, office and retail space in Lawrence’s historic Ayer Mill building, “but they give me the freedom and responsibility to work on the machines, to do maintenance on the machines, which I enjoy.”

Thanks to his co-ops, Macioci also knows what he wants to focus on once he completes his degree.

“This has opened my eyes to what the possibilities are for my career,” he says. “I see myself going more toward manufacturing engineering and dealing with these complex machines — learning them, learning how they work and what their potential is.”

And if that’s back at New Balance, that would be just fine with Macioci.

“I feel a personal connection now when I see someone wearing a New Balance shoe,” he says. “I think, ‘I was kind of part of that.’ It’s inspiring to see.”