Co-op experience remains pivotal for graduate in role as a college president

Co-op experience remains pivotal for graduate in role as a college president

May 5, 2014

“My experiences in a co-op environment (at Kettering) was really invaluable,” Snyder said.

Kettering University and the Ivy Tech Community College system in Indiana signed a matriculation agreement last summer.

Published in the Spring 2014 issue of Kettering Magazine

Kettering University alumnus Thomas Snyder '67 is attempting to take his experience in education and implement a co-op education model on a much larger statewide scale in Indiana.

Snyder is the president of Ivy Tech Community College, the largest institution of higher education in Indiana and the nation's largest single-accredited statewide community college system. Snyder leads the strategic, academic and operational processes of Indiana's largest college system that serves more than 200,000 students annually at 30 campuses and 100 learning centers that provide a full-spectrum of educational resources, transfer credits, associate degrees, workforce training and professional certification.

“My experiences in a co-op environment (at Kettering) was really invaluable,” Snyder said. “I started working side-by-side with various people from other educational institutions and I felt like I was as well prepared as any of my peers.”

Thomas Snyder '67

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Snyder graduated from Kettering with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He completed his co-op experience at Delco Remy in Anderson, Michigan.

“They made sure that every work session had a meaningful opportunity and the students were rotated through multiple departments,” Snyder said. “We went through all the engineering functions including all of the industrial engineering functions. We were certainly well positioned over the four-year period. We were given exposure to higher and higher levels of responsibilities and exposure to the top people including the general manager.”

Snyder’s own co-op and professional experiences is stimulating a partnership between the auto industry in Indiana and the community college system which could alter the very nature of community college education across the state. 

“The auto industry in the state is creating an industrial maintenance program that is modeled after Kettering because Kettering is quite well known in Indiana,” Snyder said. “It’s all about creating a co-op experience. I think that co-op engineering and co-op education is going to see a resurgence that is truly needed.”

Snyder cites Subaru and Chrysler as partners currently spear-heading the implementation of the program in coordination with the statewide community college system.

“One of the issues, the market wants someone to come in with the technical skills and the soft skills,” Snyder said. “No one is going to get a better experience in the soft skills than someone participating in Kettering co-op.”

Ivy Tech Community College also recently signed a matriculation agreement with Kettering University which makes it easier for students to transfer to Kettering.  Snyder states that the purpose of the community college system is to provide career-based training and transfer opportunities to students and the agreement with Kettering, in combination with co-op opportunities, fulfills both needs.

Prior to joining Ivy Tech, Snyder held Chairman and CEO/President positions at Flagship Energy Systems Center and Delco Remy International, Inc. He began his career at General Motors Corporation, advancing  through executive positions in engineering, marketing and sales for automotive batteries, magnetics and electric vehicle components. Snyder also completed a six-year tour of duty with the Air Force with research and development assignments at Vandenberg and Andrews Air Force Bases and the Pentagon.

Snyder was also one of four college presidents to testify at a hearing on college affordability before the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in July 2013. His comments and writing have appeared in numerous national news outlets to advocate for the affordability and efficiency of public education.

“I’m saddened that big co-op programs are starting to wane. It’s a national issue,” Snyder said. “I think it (co-op) is important for us at the community college level.  Students are not going to get the soft skills in their home environment as easily as they would if they were from more affluent communities. But at-risk students will get the education and soft skills necessary through co-op.”


Written By Pardeep Toor | Contact: Patrick Hayes - phayes@kettering.edu - (810) 762-9639