Supervisor Responsibilities

 The site supervisor plays an important role in the success of the co-op experience. Below are best practices to ensure a positive work experience. It is also helpful to read through the "working students" section of this website and the course syllabus to get a sense of what is expected of students participating in the Co-op Program.

  • Provide a variety of engineering experiences to the student. Demonstrate a genuine interest in integrating the Co-op student as a team member in your organization.
  • Provide adequate supervision for the Co-op student (recommended one meeting per week or every other week).
  • Provide the Co-op student with a variety of tasks of increasing difficulty and responsibility as the work terms and Co-op student's ability progress.
  • Provide a professional work environment and experience by encouraging the Co-op student to participate in training, workshops, and other growth opportunities.
  • Maintain open lines of communication. Provide feedback to the Co-op student throughout the work term.
  • As part of the accompanying online course, students need to conduct short interviews on non-technical issues such as professional conduct, examples of conflict resolution at the company, and so on. The supervisor is expected to either participate in these short interviews, or direct the student to the right colleagues who could share their experience.
  • Complete all necessary forms as outlined below.

Work Semester Reporting

Work Assignment Plan - 1st Semester

The Work Assignment Plan is completed and signed by both the student and the employer at the beginning of the first working semester. The Work Plan describes the work experience envisioned for each semester of the student's time with the company; thought should be given to provide a diverse Co-op experience over the entire time of employment.

The Work Plan may need to be modified as semesters progress to meet the goals of the student and the employer. If changes occur (e.g., change of work term, change of supervisor), then it is necessary to resubmit the Work Plan to the Co-op Program for approval. It is the student's responsibility to initiate and follow through with the Work Plan.

Work Verification Form - 2nd Semester

At the beginning of the student's second working semester, the student’s supervisor must fill out the Work Verification Form, which confirms that the student is working full time during the listed dates. The student will email this form to you.

Performance Review - Both Semesters

At the end of each work period, a Performance Review should be completed by the student's supervisor and returned to the Co-op office. The information is used to screen for potential problems, but its primary function is to maintain good communication between the employer, the Co-op student, and the Co-op office.

Supervisors usually go over the Performance Review in person with the student. If the supervisor doesn't initiate the review, the student should do so. If a supervisor submits the form without talking to the student, the student has the option to set up a time with the Co-op Program to look over the completed form. The Performance Review is treated confidentially and will not be released without written permission from the student.

If the supervisor has their own Performance Review form, that can be submitted instead of the Co-op's form.

Supervisor's Signature on the Academic Report (only for students taking 4043W)

For students taking 4043W, the supervisor must read and sign the student's report to ensure that confidential information is not disclosed, as well as to make sure the technical content is accurate, as noted in the Confidentiality section. We suggest that students and supervisors establish reasonable response times toward the end of the semester. The student should give the supervisor enough time to check the report for problems, and the supervisor should allow time for the student to make corrections to the paper, if necessary, and still meet the assignment deadline.

Time extensions for reports are rarely given. The only valid excuse is if the employer is holding a report for some reason beyond the student's control, even though the student had made arrangements ahead of time. If the student did not make arrangements ahead of time, a late penalty will apply. It follows that the supervisor should let the student know if there are likely to be delays on his or her part, so that the student can find an alternative employer representative to review and sign off on the paper. If delays occur despite the student's best efforts, the student will ask the supervisor to telephone or email the student's Co-op Facilitator explaining the circumstances.

It is not the supervisor's responsibility to review or respond to questions about aspects of writing such as grammar, punctuation, and structure. Supervisors are most welcome to offer help in these areas, but the way the report is written is ultimately the student's concern, and students may ask their Co-op Facilitator if they have questions.

It should be noted that the research and writing for all academic work should occur on the student's own time, not company time, unless approved by the supervisor. In other words, the Co-op writing assignments are not seen as part of the job, although in many cases the report will describe a company project or job assignment.


For students taking 4043W, their main academic assignment is a written report about what they are learning and doing at the company, so questions about confidentiality are likely to arise. To address any concerns, students are required to check with their supervisor early in the semester, at the time the report proposal needs to be approved. A confidentiality form is also discussed and signed at this time. As a follow-up, near the end of the semester, the supervisor reviews the final report to make sure that confidential information has not been disclosed. Thus, the student checks with the supervisor regarding confidentiality at least twice during the course of the semester.

In potentially sensitive cases, we advise the student to communicate with the supervisor while writing the preliminary report, rather than waiting until the final report has been written. The supervisor may want to offer the student guidelines about how much time is available for this type of intermediate review. In the rare case where a suitable company-related subject cannot be found, the student is permitted to write about an unrelated topic.

In addition to checking for confidentiality, we also ask the supervisor to watch for and have the student correct technical errors or inaccuracies.

The student will take the initiative for the confidentiality form, the report proposal, and the final report, and we ask the supervisor to help by responding in a timely way. Delays in signing the report can cause the student to get an Incomplete grade, and an Incomplete, in turn, can cause the student to lose financial aid or delay graduation. If more than one person is involved in checking confidentiality, it is especially important to move as quickly as possible. If the supervisor is likely to be away or too busy to review the final report by the date requested, we ask the supervisor to help the student make arrangements with another person at the company.

Terminating a Co-op Prematurely

Unfortunately there are times when employers need to terminate a Co-op student prematurely. We realize that the way an employer proceeds is not under the control of the Co-op Program but we ask that employers follow these guidelines.


While it happens rarely, employers have at times found it necessary to lay off a Co-op student. Employers are expected to 1) handle the process in the same manner as for a regular employee working at the company in the probationary period, and 2) notify the Co-op Program.

If a layoff occurs, employers are highly encouraged to allow the student to finish out the 15-week work semester. If that is not possible, for students in 4043W, the supervisor is asked to review and sign the student's academic assignment (that is, the technical report), so that the semester is not a complete loss for the student. This assumes the student is far enough into the semester to have started the report. If layoffs are imminent before a Co-op student begins the work semester, then the employer is expected to notify the student and the Co-op Program, and give the student the option to decline that work semester and take classes instead.

If a student is laid off, he or she will not lose the credits earned for any of the work semesters completed, even though the full number of credits have not been acquired. If a student is laid off mid-term and all the academic assignments are completed, it is still possible to complete the Co-op course for credit.


In a case of possible dismissal for cause, we would like to offer assistance and try to obtain a positive outcome for all parties. To that end, we ask that the Co-op Director be contacted as early in the process as possible. If the difficulties cannot be resolved it may be necessary for the employer to follow normal dismissal procedures. An employer is well within its rights to maintain and enforce its corporate standards.

Employer's Discontinuation of the Co-op Program

Although there is not a written contract with the employers to guarantee the continued employment of Co-op students as determined at the time of hiring, there is an ethical responsibility on both sides to continue the program as arranged. There have been a few occasions when employers have eliminated a program before completion. Such decisions are, of course, highly discouraged. However, if discontinuing the program is unavoidable, the Co-op Program personnel will do everything they can to assist the student in locating another co-op.

Scenarios When a Student is Required to Drop Out of the Co-op Program

  • If a student leaves a position without the consent of the Co-op Director.
  • If a student fails a Co-op academic course.
  • If the student changes majors to a non-engineering major.