Engagement means that we focus our engineering and applied sciences education on a hands-on environment. Our students do what they learn. We have extensive laboratory experiences and opportunities for undergraduate and graduate research. We have many design-build competitions where our students design and build physical objects and compete with the design of those physical objects around the United States. These design-build competitions include the SAE Formula One race car, the solar powered Sunseeker vehicle, the AIAA aircraft, the ASCE steel bridge and concrete canoe, the AICHE chemical car, and the IIE technical paper competition to name but a few.
An important part of engagement is our intern, concurrent co-op and alternating co-op programs. An internship is a one semester work opportunity for pay in industry, government, or the service sector. Our interns are placed not only in Michigan, but also World-wide. In the last year we have had interns in Japan and Finland. Concurrent co-oping is working part time in local industry while going to school part time. There are many companies within an hour's drive of Kalamazoo that hire our students on concurrent co-ops starting after the students' freshman year. Alternating co-oping is where you work every other semester for a company, going to school full time for a semester and then working full time for a semester. Alternating semester co-ops typically start after their sophomore year. We have placed alternating semester co-ops all around the State of Michigan as well as across the United States.
Today engineering, technology and applied sciences is a truly global profession. If you can digitize the information, it can be transported anywhere in the world, the analysis and the design work can be performed there and then sent to anywhere in the world to be used. Engineers today have customers that are global and suppliers that are global. It is imperative that our graduates know how to work in a global environment so that they can be competitive and that Michigan and United States industries can be globally competitive.
We offer students opportunities to participate in two to three week study missions to China, Korea, Germany, and Brazil. Our students do internships in countries that include Finland and Japan. They also study abroad around the world.
Innovation is the design and creation of new technologies, materials, and devices that help mankind live a better life and improve the quality of our society. With over half of our externally funded research coming from industry, we are a world leader performing applied, hands on, real world innovation that makes a difference to industry, people and society. In the last five years we have had contracts with over 40 different industries including 20 within the State of Michigan. The college also does do basic research funded by the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, The United States Navy, and The United States Air Force to name but a few funding agencies. Much of our innovation and research involve undergraduates, and there are wonderful opportunities as an undergraduate to be involved with innovation.
We believe all of our students should have leadership skills upon graduation. We teach this starting Freshman year by putting them into 20 person cohort teams where they take the same classes and learn to work as leaders and followers in teams. We also offer our Custer Interior Work Place Design Lecture Series where we bring corporate leaders from around North America to campus to meet with and give presentations to our students. This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to meet and learn from corporate leaders in many different industries and professions.