Engineering student John Finnegan talks about his time at Ole Miss and his co-op placement with Parker
As a fifth-year mechanical engineering student, what’s your take on Ole Miss?
I think it’s rare that you get a school that’s got the fanfare of being an R1 institution with excellent research and big SEC sports. It’s weird that you get that and I can still walk into the engineering dean’s office and say ‘hey, I need help’ and it’ll happen. You get all the perks of a big school and most of the perks of a small school.
I understand you are on a co-op placement with Parker-Hannifin. What are you doing for them?
My job is mostly about diagnosing problems that can come up with one of the many parts that Parker produces. This could be during the production or the quality control stage. First I look at the issue priority – often based on when it needs to be shipped out. Then I try to determine a workaround or develop a new process that might be able to work instead.
What would you say are the pros and cons of doing a co-op?
With co-ops you get a real amount of engineering experience. I’ll be graduating with over two years of experience, a lot of it part-time. The other main benefit is that I can pay off my loans while still in school. Having half an engineering degree can get you pretty dang good job. The main disadvantage is that it’s going to take you longer to graduate.
How would you compare your academic and co-op experiences?
Industry works so differently from school in general. What I’ve enjoyed is being able to recognize things from work that just never came up in school. I’ve picked up tangible but not academic skills through work that I think a lot of companies would like to see young engineers having.
Ole Miss will answer all the questions you have, and a co-op will help you figure out what question you are trying to ask.
Finally, how would you sum up your Ole Miss experience?
The Ole Miss environment is great for the intangibles that an engineer needs. Being an engineering student at a liberal arts institution, you get the perspectives that you’re going to get in the real world. You’re going to need to deal with people other than engineers at some point in your life and Ole Miss really prepares you for that.