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UNB celebrates 40 years of the computer science co-op program

Author: Kathleen McLaughlin

Posted on Jun 16, 2023

Category: UNB Fredericton , UNB Saint John

The University of New Brunswick's (UNB) faculty of computer science (CS) co-operative education program has made substantial contributions to the workforce in Canada and beyond over the past 40 years.

The co-op program equips students with skills in cybersecurity, data science, computer programming and software development, among others, preparing them to tackle the significant challenges of today in a fast-paced, increasingly digitized economy and world.

Last year the program officially turned 40, but celebrations were postponed due to the pandemic.

Today, faculty, alumni, students and co-op employer partners will gather at the Richard J. CURRIE CENTER to commemorate four decades of success and to take a walk down memory lane with a presentation featuring the history of the program and its remarkable achievements.

“ACOA is proud to work with academic partners like UNB to build a skilled workforce and fuel the economy of the future,” said the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA). “UNB’s contributions are helping to elevate Atlantic Canada as one of the top places for talent excellence and the work achieved in the last 40 years showcases its long commitment to experiential education.”

“Creating work-ready students with such rich computer science co-op experience is critical to our province’s economic future as these in-demand skills are key to our growth and evolution to a digital economy,” said Arleen Dunn, Minister responsible for Opportunities New Brunswick and Small Business and Economic Development.

Dr. W. Dana Wasson, the founding dean of computer science, also known as “Mr. Computer,” established the CS co-op program in 1981. Since the beginning, the program has built an employer partner roster of well over 100. Over 60 per cent of computer science students take part in the program.

Many partner companies’ founders and executives are UNB CS alumni who understand the value student experiential learning through this program has to their business and the development of highly skilled talent.

Students who have completed the co-op program go on to work for all levels of government and companies that range from local start-ups to multinationals such as Google, Siemens, Loblaw, Microsoft, IBM Canada, and many have also gone on to become company founders, CEOs and CTOs.

“Co-op programs are extremely important in the field of computer science and ours is one of the most successful in the country with a wide range of employer partners – from non-profits to private and public sector – who offer mentored work experiences where students get to work on real-world IT projects,” said Luigi Benedicenti, dean of the faculty of computer science. “Over 80 per cent of our co-op students are offered a job from one of their work term employers before or at graduation. This program is an incredible advantage for our faculty, UNB and our regional economy.”

Here are some stories featuring successful CS co-op alumni:

Please join us in celebrating the last 40 years of the CS co-op program and look forward to many more years of success!

Learn more about the CS co-op program offered on UNB’s Fredericton campus.