Marshall University’s (MU) College of Engineering and Computer Sciences recently named the West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) as their Employer of the Year, based on a close relationship between the WVDOH and MU that has seen dozens of MU students hired over the years after serving in summer Co-Op programs.
The idea is simple: Show promising young talent what the WVDOH has to offer as an employer, and many will decide to stay.
"It's really incredible," said West Virginia Transportation Secretary Jimmy Wriston, P.E. "Of all the employers in the state, to be singled out as the Employer of the Year by MU is truly an honor for the Division of Highways (WVDOH).
"We've had a long-standing partnership with Marshall and their great staff," Wriston said. "It's my understanding that we were chosen by the students, which makes it even more special."
“The West Virginia Department of Highways (WVDOH) has connected with Marshall University's (MU) College of Engineering and Computer Sciences since the inception of the Co-Op Program,” said Tanner Drown, Co-Op Coordinator for MU’s College of Engineering and Computer Sciences. “This partnership has allowed students the opportunity for a real-life work experience in which they can apply academic training into industry.
“Through this successful initiative, Marshall University (MU) can provide a well-rounded program that results in quality, future employees in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematic (STEM) fields,” Drown said. “It is a win-win for everyone!”
When Gov. Jim Justice rolled out his $2.8 billion Roads to Prosperity highway maintenance and construction program in 2017, it created the immediate need for thousands of transportation workers, engineers, equipment operators, bridge inspectors, administrators, and others who would be needed to bring the Governor’s vision to fruition.
Knowing those workers would be needed – and needed fast – the DOT worked closely with Gov. Justice and the West Virginia Legislature to pass a law allowing the DOT to develop its own job posting, interviewing, and hiring procedures. The new hiring procedures revolutionized the department's ability to get job applicants on the job quickly and efficiently.
The WVDOH summer Co-Op program is one of the ways the WVDOH can fill some of those positions. The program is open to qualified college students who are pursuing their bachelor’s degrees. The WVDOH actively seeks co-ops from colleges and universities all over the country, including MU, West Virginia University, Virginia Tech, Carnegie Mellon University and others both within and outside of West Virginia.
Participants in the summer Co-Op program get paid to work for WVDOH, where they gain real world experience and learn how the WVDOH works. Many who start as summer co-ops decide to pursue a career with the WVDOH.
MU currently has 20 students enrolled in the summer Co-Op program. Marshall students make up more than 25 percent of co-ops who are hired full-time.