Maximising Your Learning Experience

Maximising Your Learning Experience

By: Gursher Sidhu | Engineering Co-op Student
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Co-op is a pleasant and exciting experience that takes you through a roller coaster of challenges faced by the Engineers, appreciate their contribution to the society and instills pride in being a part of the field in the future. I have successfully completed four work terms at three places in the fields of Core Mechanical, Advanced Electronics, Software Development, Control Systems and Material Science which broadened my perspective of the vast horizon of Engineering.

My first four-month Co-op experience started at Dr. Woo Soo Kim’s Stretchable Devices Laboratory at SFU Surrey. It was a well-paid research opportunity funded by SFU-FPInnovations collaboration and NSERC Industrial Undergraduate Student Research Award. I was exposed to various nano-technology fabrication processes. Most thrilling of all was not only the synthesis of Silver Nanowires using a high-yield process developed in the lab but also investigating thin layer morphology of nanowires using Atomic Force Microscope (AFM). Apart from gaining various skills, we had a trip to the Grouse Mountain to boost team spirit on the Grind, watch various shows, and relax on the peak.

I completed my second eight-month Co-op at Océ Display Graphics Systems in the field of Mechanical Engineering. I got a deep insight into industrial experience from it being a multi-national company. Océ understands Co-op student’s potential and puts them through crucial projects with a very pleasant skill development environment.  I successfully developed a heat-sink extrusion for thermal management system of an upcoming top-of-the-line printer. During the design process, I grasped good knowledge of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Analysis software - CFDesign to run heat transfer and flow validation simulations.

I had the opportunity to visit Metalworking Manufacturing-Production and DEX Design Engineering Expo to get in pace with the technology and products available in the market for mechanical design. Visiting these trade shows and dealing with various vendors during the design process really helped my professional development and overall confidence. Océ has a very pleasant working environment. Having joined the company in January I had the opportunity to attend yearly Kick-off event which includes renting Cineplex at Richmond Hill to watch motivational movies followed by bowling as the evening fades away.

Above all, personal printing is allowed at Océ and I ended up printing high quality posters as big as 4' X 8'. Besides various events held by the company, my colleague organised a Canoeing trip and I organised a Go-Karting event with both occasions having great turnout and good memories among the employees and Co-op Students.

Currently, I am working as the Product Designer Co-op at Seastar Solutions (formerly Teleflex Marine). Here, I got a taste of a fast-paced industrial environment with constantly changing priorities and an insight into manufacturing as the production is done in-house at adjacent buildings. I started off with testing for their ultimate electronic power steering system – “Optimus 360”, which features a Joystick to easily manoeuvre twin outboard boats in crowded docking areas. Initially, I started on a Test bench which had LabVIEW interface to work as an engine simulator, troubleshooting the bench polished my LabVIEW skills beyond the levels exposed in the curriculum courses.

This Co-op experience ended with tuning a power-steering pump by executing software parameter design and testing performance on a triple 300 hp outboard speed boat up to the open waters of Vancouver Islands. Apart from enhancement in my skill-set, I had a chance to attend the company’s annual Christmas Gala at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Center, a night full of great times and good memories.

Apart from an increase in technical, hand-ons, and soft skills, and building connections in industry, Co-op provided me with a vision to carve my career by selecting higher level electives. My advice to Co-op seeking fellows is to try different industries when it comes down to maximising your learning experience.

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Posted on December 18, 2013