Cooperative work experience program with WRPS prepares WSU Tri-Cities students to be next generation employees

RICHLAND, WA – Washington River Protection Solution’s (WRPS) and Washington State University (WSU) Tri-Cities have partnered to build a diverse workforce by establishing a robust cooperative work experience program (Co-Op Program) that will prepare students to be the next generation employees for WRPS. The collaboration provides both academic and professional opportunities for growth and development while helping selected students build the skills necessary for full-time employment with WRPS post-graduation. As part of the partnership, WRPS donated $250,000 to WSU Tri-Cities to fund program costs.

WSU Tri-Cities chancellor Sandra Haynes and president of WRPS John Eschenberg hold a check for $250,000

Washington River Protection Solutions, a prime contractor to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of River Protection, donated $250,000 to WSU Tri-Cities to establish a unique internship cooperative employment program.

Anna Plemons, associate vice chancellor academic and student affairs at WSU Tri-Cities said, “I am very excited to see this program develop because, as a career-oriented campus, it is foundational to what we do. Many students choose WSU Tri-Cities because they want to stay local to earn their degree. This program fits perfectly with that desire because it connects them with career experience and future job opportunities in our region.”

Up to 10 students, who have junior, senior or graduate status during the next academic year, will receive full-time summer employment and continue working part time during the school year in their chosen fields.

A WSU Tri-Cities program coordinator and WRPS managers and mentors will closely monitor the development of co-op participants to ensure sufficient progress is taking place, both academically and professionally.

The 2022-2023 cohort consists of six students studying in the following academic programs: computer science (2), mechanical engineering (1), electrical engineering (1), civil engineering (1), and environmental and ecosystems sciences (1). All students will begin this summer and continue through at least one full academic year. Applications will open again so that all 10 spots can be filled.

Colby Morris, one of the students selected to participate in the 2022-2023 cohort says the best part about the program so far has been the opportunity to meet and interact with people who have years of experience in the field. “This internship has significantly increased my ability to see what real world coding is. Here I have had the ability to see what people are really programming and how I can apply it to my schooling,” he said.

Another student in the cohort, Omar De La Mora said, “This is making a great deal of a difference. Being able to gain real-world experience on what happens on a day-to-day basis changes your perspective on what to focus on during school.” He is looking forward to the flexibility the program allows him to have while attending WSU Tri-Cities, as well as the possibility of a full-time position after graduation.

Additionally, two students not part of the cohort were offered full-time positions at WRPS. Both students are women of color who have, or will soon, wrap up their graduate programs in computer science and engineering and technology management.

To learn more about the WRPS/WSU Co-Op program contact Laura Sanchez, director of student services:  (509) 372-7660


Leslie Streeter, Office of Marketing and Communication, (509) 372-7333,