History of the Georgia Tech Career Center

Career Education Timeline of Events

Georgia Tech chartered by Georgia Legislature.

Classes begin at Georgia Tech.

Dean Herman Schneider begins co-op at University of Cincinnati.

Georgia Tech President Kenneth Matheson commissions study as to feasibility of co-op, with Dr. T.P. Branch as chair of committee.

Georgia Tech began their cooperative education program. Twelve students were enrolled in the first co-op class, the class of 1917, where they divided their time between classroom instruction and off-campus jobs provided by “cooperative” local employers.

The Georgia Railway & Power Company (GR&PC) was organized. This was one of the earliest and by far the largest employers of students during the co-op program’s infancy.

The Georgia Tech Co-op Club is formed by members of the first co-op class.

Briaerean Society (Co-op Honorary) chartered at Georgia Tech to support scholarship among co-ops. Admission to the honorary society was open to co-op juniors and seniors with a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher.

James E. McDaniel named director of Coopertive Courses. Association of Cooperative Colleges founded.

Cloudman Hall was opened. It was built exclusively for co-ops.

George C. Griffin, CE ’27, one of the most influential figures in Georgia Tech’s history, used monies from his own pocket to establish the first placement center at Georgia Tech. The Alumni Placement Service began in 1934, followed by a student placement service in 1941.

Harrison Dorm opened. It housed co-op upperclassmen.

The first placement office housed in the Knowles Building, formerly the Knowles Dormitory.

President Marion Brittan’s post-war planning committee recommends that regular students and co-ops follow the same calendar.

Fred W. Ajax was one of the first assigned to supervise the operations of the Placement Office. In 1941, he was appointed Assistant Dean of Students, and he assumed placement duties in 1946. The Fred W. Ajax Placement Center, the former home of Career Services, was named in his honor.

James C. Wohlford named director of Cooperative Courses.

Women first admitted to Georgia Tech.

Future Georgia Tech President G. Wayne Clough enrolls as a co-op student.

Georgia Tech is desegregated when African-American students Ford Greene, Ralph Long, Jr., and Lawrence Williams enroll in classes. The first black student to graduate from Tech is Ron L. Yancey, EE ’65.

Laurie Baker becomes the first female student admitted to the co-op program.

Delta, the Atlanta-based airline, began hiring Georgia Tech co-ops.

The Fred W. Ajax Placement Center was named for Fred Ajax. Formerly the Pickrick Restaurant, 891 Hemphill Avenue, it was the long-lived center of student placement at Georgia Tech until 1993. During this tiime, directors oversaw the placement of thousands of Tech students.

Co-op programs in Chemistry, Physics, Industrial Management, and Engineering Mechanics joined the seven engineering disciplines of Aeronautical, Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Industrial, Mechanical, and Textile.

Co-op Students earn an average of $478 per month.

McKenney’s, a commercial HVAC systems contractor located in, began hiring co-op students. It is now one of the program’s top employers.

William H. “Bill” Hitch becomes the Cooperative Division’s fifth director.

During Jim Osborne’s leadership (Director of Corporate Relations & Placement; 1982 – 1987), major changes came to the operation of the Placement Office. Those changes included adjustments to staffing structure, modernization of registration and interviewing systems, and stronger corporate ties. Thee stronger ties resulted in corporate funding from over 800 companies, taking corporate gifts for the university from $3.6 million to $16.6 million annually.

Co-op opportunities were limited to undergraduates until this date, when a graduate component was introduced with support from a U.S. Department of Education grant.

Co-op’s seventy-fifth anniversary observances were conducted in 1987 and 1988 to coincide with the great fanfare surrounding Georgia Tech’s centennial birthday, held during 1985-1988.

John Hannabach accepted the position of director of the Georgia Tech placement office. He was instrumental in changing the name to Career Services, moving the program from the Fred W. Ajax Placement Center to the Bill Moore Student Success Center.

Associate Director Tom Akins is picked to succeed Bill Hitch as the next director of the Co-op Division.

Shortly after John Hannabach became director of Career Services, he successfully lobbied for the placement program to move to the Bill Moore Student Success Center.

The newly named office of Career Services was given office space on the 2nd floor. The Recruiting Center is located on the festival level (basement) of the Success Center where interview rooms are available for on-campus recruiting.

In September, industrial engineering student Guy Slann becomes the 10,000th co-op graduate.

Tom Akins initiated a re-organization to consolidate Georgia Tech’s experiential learning programs under one administrative roof called the Division of Professional Practice. This consisted of the Co-op Program, the Undergraduate Professional Internship Program, and the graduate co-op program was moved to the Division from the Graduate Studies office.

Harold B. Simmons named director of the undergraduate co-op program.

Graduate Co-op Program absorbed by the Division of Professional Practice.

Georgia Tech begins the Work Abroad Plan. The program includes internship, graduate, and undergraduate co-op work opportunities around the world.

The Southern Company is recognized as the Cooperative Education Employer of the Year by Georgia Tech and inducted into the Cooperative Education Hall of Honor.

Patrick Anthony named the executive director of the Division of Professional Practice.

Wayne Thompson named the director of the undergraduate Co-op Program.

Georgia Tech Co-op Centennial

What Tech needs is a centralized office where companies can come and talk to seniors.

With that mission George C. Griffin, CE ’22, one of the most influential figures in Georgia Tech’s history, used monies from his own pocket to establish the first placement center. Griffin was heavily involved in placement services even after his retirement in 1964.

George C. Griffin

Dean (1946 - 1964)

It is the responsibility of the Placement Center … to remain continually aware of the economy, the total employment outlook and, specifically, the opportunities available to Tech graduates and to counsel with students both in small groups and individually regarding their employment search.

Bill D. Pickel came to Georgia Tech from the Ford Motor Company, where he was a recruiter.

Bill D. Pickel

Director of Placement (1970 - 1972)

Books About the History of Career Education At Georgia Tech

Here are two(2) books that provide the histories of cooperative education / experiential learning at Georgia Tech and the history of the student placement office (career services).

A Century of Progress:
The History of Coperative Education at Georgia Tech
1912 – 2012

Gary Geottling
Georgia Tech Institute Communications B13C3200
Copyright 2012

On September 18, 1912, a dozen students began a grand experiment at Georgia Tech.  Over a century later, that experiment – the cooperative education program – is now one of the nation’s largest voluntary co-op program.

This commemorative book is a tribute in recognition of the program marking it’s centennial in 2012

A Moment in Time:
Thirty Years in the Making

The History of the Georgia Tech Career Center

Cynthia T. Jordin
Proisle Publishing Service
December 20, 2022

A Moment in Time:  Thirty Years in the Making is about the evolution of the Georgia Tech Placement Center into the Career Services office (now the “Career Center”).   This book commemorates the history of Career Services and the tremendous changes that have taken place over 30 years.

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