More than the academic rigor in a classroom, Joel Luebker ‘18 enjoys applying his knowledge to practice in the workplace.
“I’m the kind of person who likes to work rather than sitting in classrooms and doing the theoretical all day,” Luebker said. “I looked into other schools that did co-op and I really liked the immediacy of the co-op concept at Kettering.”
Kettering students alternate between 3-month co-op rotations and 3-month academic terms throughout their higher education careers.
Luebker’s urgency to work transplanted him across the country from Castro Valley, California to Flint, Michigan to pursue Mechanical Engineering and a potential career in the automotive industry.
“You learn in classrooms but where you really learn is your co-op experience and that was intriguing to me,” Luebker said. “As soon as I visited Kettering, I knew I was going there.”
It helped that some of Kettering’s co-op partners offered Luebker his “dream job.” Growing up, cars always held his attention. Luebker grew up dreaming to one day work in the automotive industry. He’s now completing his co-op at Magna Exteriors in Troy, Michigan.
“I want to have a career that interests me,” Luebker said. “So automotive caught my eye.”
Luebker chose to work at Magna because of his desire to study abroad and potentially work overseas as well. He questioned potential co-op employers about opportunities to do a rotation overseas.
“Magna got really excited about it in the interview,” Luebker said. “They were open to the opportunity to travel.”
Luebker has completed a co-op rotation in Troy and Warren, Michigan as well as Guelph, Ontario, Canada. In Guelph, he had the opportunity to meet and shake hands with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a company visit.
Luebker is accomplishing his goal of working and studying abroad starting in October 2016 when he left for a 9-month rotation - two work terms, one study abroad term - in Germany.
“Magna is allowing me to morph into whatever I want to be as an engineer,” Luebker said.
Luebker appreciates the differences between California and Michigan. He describes Michigan as having a “slower pace” that he enjoys. Visits to Detroit and other cities in the midwest has also broadened his scope by exposing him to diverse geographies in the United States.
“Coming from California, it was easy to adapt because Kettering is such a small school,” Luebker said. “The school is so small that you can make friends so easily. It’s one big family on campus.