Sometimes it pays to go the extra mile, even if it means waiting a little longer to reach your goal. Sometimes the extra effort can lead to something more. 

Case in point: junior Ohaji Clark.

As one of the College’s first systems engineering majors, he extended the time it would take to earn his diploma when he switched to that major once it became available his sophomore year. His timing couldn’t have been better: Clark is the first systems engineering student to take part in the systems engineering co-op offered by Robert Bosch LLC through the College’s Career Center. 

“Participating in the co-op has given me the opportunity to grow and learn the ropes,” he says. “It is a great way to gain hands-on experience and a no-risk chance to find if it’s what you like while building credentials for your future career.” 

Bosch set up its co-op program with the College because it understands the value of developing systems engineers over time. The co-op requires participating students to work at the Bosch facility in North Charleston, which makes automotive components, full time for three semesters.  

“We work with universities like the College of Charleston because we know it’s important for students to gain hands-on experience related to their field,” says John Penton, connectivity architect and digital transformation leader at Bosch’s Charleston plant. “Students get the opportunity to participate in different areas of our business and develop technical and professional skills. Of course, we also benefit from the questions and insights that students have on our projects.” 

As part of the co-op, Clark participated in building the facility’s new cafeteria, where his main responsibilities were working with on-site contractors and supporting the project manager. 

“Students realize that their time spent in the program can provide an accurate glimpse of their potential future working environment,” says Tim Walker, facilities engineering manager at Bosch. “Ohaji is a perfect match for our co-op needs. He is hardworking, diligent, responsible, cooperative, confident and a good team player.” 

Currently, Clark, who is in his third semester of the Bosch co-op, is working with the quality management maturity department, helping build the layout to integrate Babtec, a computer-aided quality software, into the Rivian electric motor line. The software will improve operations by replacing outdated control plan and inspection procedures.

Funke Oladimeji, assistant professor and director of the College’s engineering program, is thrilled that Clark and Bosch are paving the way for future engineering co-ops. 

“It’s so important to be exposed to practical applications of what they are learning in the classroom,” explains Oladimeji. “Through co-ops, students can learn how working efficiently in teams can lead to innovations and increased success in projects. Of course, the added bonus is networking and learning about their future prospects.” 

Clark’s prospects look bright. When he graduates in spring 2024, he plans to work at Bosch and continue to grow with the company.

Featured image by Mike Ledford