On co-​​op with an engi­neering firm in Paris, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity stu­dent Chris Nasif was asked by his man­ager to write a 10,000-word dis­ser­ta­tion on designing earthquake-​​resistant build­ings, a topic with which he was unfa­miliar.

After shaking off the daunting scope of his assign­ment, the senior civil and envi­ron­mental engi­neering major got to work.

He con­ducted research on past projects that had incor­po­rated earth­quake damage mit­i­ga­tion and ana­lyzed cre­ative ways to modify the struc­ture — a 10-​​story, 60-​​square meter tower — to increase its sta­bility. Ulti­mately, he devised a steel rein­force­ment system to incor­po­rate into its design.

“It was incred­ible to design my own struc­ture,” Nasif said of his co-​​op expe­ri­ence working at the firm Oger Inter­na­tional. “I took away that the engi­neering process allows for great cre­ativity and imag­i­na­tion.”

Past co-​​op expe­ri­ences, he said, played an inte­gral role in approaching his dis­ser­ta­tion with con­fi­dence and atten­tion to detail.

One time, he reviewed engi­neering blue­prints for two major con­struc­tion projects in Saudi Arabia. He pored over every inch of every floor, mea­suring sur­face area, counting columns and making sure the archi­tec­tural draw­ings matched the struc­tural schematics.

“I learned how the design process works and how the research is done,” Nasif said. “Exam­ining all the tech­nical aspects of those projects def­i­nitely helped me when I was designing my own struc­ture.”

Working inde­pen­dently for the majority of his co-​​op inspired Nasif to dis­cover solu­tions to engi­neering prob­lems on his own. The expe­ri­ence also gave him an oppor­tu­nity to com­pare how Amer­ican and French engi­neers approach engi­neering quan­daries.

“I couldn’t have picked a better co-​​op,” Nasif said. “ I learned about engi­neering from a dif­ferent world perspective.”