Getting the Most out of the Coop Experience

Sean Mayo's passion for technology dates back to his childhood where he spent his time disassembling and reassembling old VCRs.

At Northeastern, the electrical and computer engineering dual major has been channeling his enthusiasm for electronics into an impressive array of experiential endeavors. Most recently, he landed a highly coveted co-op job as an engineering analyst for Apple’s iPod / iPhone technology team. The job was a perfect fit.

“I like to build things. The process of creating is very compelling,” explained Mayo, adding, “Everyone you see walking on the street has an iPod or an iPhone. It’s great to be part of a company that makes something that is used and enjoyed by so many people.”

As an integral part of the Apple team for the past six months, Mayo developed future applications for the iPod and iPhone, analyzed the technology of competitor products like Microsoft’s “Zune,” and authored or co-authored 13 U.S. process and software patents for the popular hand-held devices.

Mayo, who graduated on May 1, credits his range of prior research and co-op experiences for the skills that got him the job at Apple. As a sophomore, he did research at Northeastern’s Bernard M. Gordon Center for Subsurface Sensing and Imaging, where he developed algorithms to detect and classify buried, unexploded ordinance. The following year, he did a co-op at the Bedford, Mass., location of Mitre Corporation, where he developed personal navigation systems for situations where GPS programs don’t function.

These experiences not only looked impressive on his resume, but also gave him the opportunity to explore advanced material in real-life settings. "On my first co-op I was exposed to concepts that I wouldn’t see in the classroom until senior year," explained Mayo, "but when they were introduced in class, I already had hands-on experience."

“Conversely, the classroom was the perfect place for me to study basic programming and algorithms so that when I went on co-op, I had a firm base for learning how real-world applications are written, and how real companies work as a team to solve problems.”

Mayo’s experiential-learning successes recently won him recognition from Northeastern. In April, he was awarded the university’s William Jefferson Alcott Award for using his academic training creatively to make a contribution to society, and for demonstrating excellence throughout his co-op experiences. It’s an honor he was proud to receive.

“I’ve worked with a bunch of intelligent students over the years,” Mayo said, “and just to be recognized at the top of the class is really something to be proud of. It’s an honor.”

Related Departments:Electrical & Computer Engineering