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Dayton Engineer

UD Engineer gains unique Co-op experience with TAC Industries

By Cara Stevens, marketing communications intern

Junior chemical engineering student, Kristina Merker, enjoyed her fall 2019 co-op opportunity and knows that she definitely picked the right career path. 

Merker is a third-year chemical engineering major from Cleveland, Ohio. Instead of spending her fall semester taking classes at the University of Dayton School of Engineering, Merker spent her semester working at TAC Industries. Her position focused on manufacturing efficiency on the floor.

TAC Industries, which stands for The Abilities Connection, has a main goal of providing jobs for people with disabilities, both mental and physical. TAC Industries provides a wide variety of products to many companies — mainly the U.S. Air Force.  

“I loved the happy work environment that I walked into everyday,” said Merker, “This position forced me to think outside the box and make the processes more efficient. There were a lot of situations where I learned how to communicate with different companies for certain projects. Learning to reach out to different companies was something I didn’t expect to learn and will be very helpful for my future career.” 

The enjoyable work environment in her day-to-day experience has solidified Merker’s decision to stick with her major and continue her career as an engineer. Merker said a main connection between the job at TAC Industries and her course work at UD is problem solving skills. 

“No matter what you do, you won’t have the exact answers, so this position taught me to figure out things on my own and be a critical thinker in the job,” said Merker.

The Cooperative Education program started at the University of Dayton in 1974 and has helped students find their path within their engineering careers.  

After her co-op with TAC Industries, Merker plans to explore another experiential learning opportunity through UD's ETHOS Center. The ETHOS program seeks to provide service-learning experiences through technical immersions, student activities, research and hands-on projects. These break-out opportunities help students learn how to use their skills to help communities around the world.

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