See all NewsEngineering News
Honors and Awards

MaDE student Abdalla Badri Named Co-op Student of the Year

Badri worked at Apple for nine months

Abdalla Badri completed a nine-month co-op with Apple over the course of three academic quarters. He is a manufacturing and design engineering major who will graduate this summer. During his time at Apple, he contributed to six projects where he was responsible for designing and executing user studies, and for creating novel test devices. 

Abdalla Badri

To recognize these achievements, Badri was nominated by his supervisors at Apple, and named Northwestern Engineering’s 2023 Walter P. Murphy Cooperative Engineering Education Student of the Year. He visited with Engineering Career Development (ECD) to discuss the benefits of doing a co-op, what he learned from the experience, and how it will guide him in the future.

What has co-op meant to you?

It was a really good experience to be in the field and see how my education prepared me for the workplace. It was amazing for me to get a better grasp of what I wanted my career to look like.

Why did you decide to do a co-op?

When I applied to Apple, I thought it was just a regular internship. Once it came down to the interviews, I found out they like to do long-term programs or co-ops. I agree with them, and I’m sure ECD agrees too, that short-term internships are good, but the long-term co-op really gives you a chance to dive deeper. The first three months are where you ease into things and get comfortable with the environment. Once you get past that, you get to really dive into work.

What did you learn about yourself during your co-op experience?

I gained a lot of confidence. This was my first internship/engineering work experience ever, so coming in I had a lot of imposter syndrome. I was scared and I didn’t think they made the right decision. But over time and through working with the team and seeing my skills develop, I saw I did belong in the work environment, and I realized I could learn fast.

What was the most rewarding part of your co-op experience?

Toward the end when I was about seven months in, I worked on my own project and conducted my own study. I was on my own and I had to ask a lot of questions. It was very rewarding to be able to pull it off and I had a bigger role than I had expected. I gave my final presentation about that experience. Seeing the whole team and managers talk about the project and asking me questions made me feel very accomplished. I felt like I had done something I didn’t think I could do.

What would you tell a first-time co-op student about how to prepare for the workplace environment?

Go in with confidence. One thing I learned was don’t be afraid to ask questions but don’t ask the same question twice. Make sure you’re learning. There’s a lot that gets thrown at you in the beginning, so I wrote down things I learned no matter how dumb it sounded. You’re going to forget things, so it’s good to have notes. People like inquisitiveness and enthusiasm. I think that’s what the team liked in the beginning, especially when my skills weren’t the same as the rest of the team.

How do you think being a co-op student differentiates you from other students in the job search?

I built a lot of connections in the industry. It’s a lot easier to do that once you’re inside than from the outside. Having almost a year of experience comes in handy. You really build more meaningful connections in a co-op experience because they are really invested in watching you grow. Sometimes for summer interns they just do a project and leave, but with me they were pacing my projects and making sure I picked up the skills. That was mutually beneficial.

How has Engineering Career Development helped you in this process?

ECD has helped me so much. Ever since I was a first-year student, ECD provided resume help, career advice, finding which fields to explore, who to talk to, and what to put on my resume. I think it’s an under-utilized resource, I try to tell all the freshman and sophomores I know to go to ECD.

What are your future plans?

There’s a lot going on. I applied to study-abroad programs. For work I am still looking for jobs, but I do think I am inclined to go to grad school. I was admitted to Tufts to study human factors engineering. It was my first choice, it’s a really cool program, and it’s exactly what I want to do. I think this would be the perfect next step to become an expert in human factors. I’m also planning on getting married later this year.