Hands-on experience fast tracks graduand to dream degree

June 04, 2019

In high school, Thomas Krammer knew he wanted to study engineering at SFU. What he didn’t know is that the experience would take him far from his family’s Fraser Valley farm beginnings to California’s Silicon Valley where he’s now completing an internship at Apple.

“My experience at SFU has opened a lot of doors for me,” says Krammer, who graduates this month with a bachelor of applied science in mechatronic systems engineering.

Throughout his degree program, Krammer seized the opportunity to develop his leadership and technical skills. In addition to volunteering his time as a tutor, he joined fellow students from SFU’s Surrey campus to volunteer with NightShift. The Surrey-based not-for-profit provides outreach, counselling and educational services to people experiencing poverty, addiction and homelessness in Surrey’s Whalley neighbourhood.

Then, Krammer set his sights on developing his professional skills through a co-operative education internship at Avigilon, a security solutions company in downtown Vancouver. There, he was a member of the product design team that develops the company’s next generation of HD camera systems.

“Co-op gives you a chance to see a different side of education,” says Krammer. “It was a great opportunity to learn new problem-solving skills that supported what I learned in class.”

Following his first co-op experience, Krammer joined professor Parvaneh Saeedi in SFU’s Laboratory for Robotic Vision to experience engineering research. In the lab, Krammer developed image-processing algorithms used on satellites that he subsequently published for an international computing conference. Saeedi then invited Krammer to take an accelerated master’s degree in engineering science. He is the first mechatronics student admitted to the program.

“Being a part of professor Saeedi’s lab taught me a lot about the quality of research conducted at SFU,” says Krammer. “I developed additional technical skills that I’ve applied in recent classes and in my internship at Apple.”

The skills he acquired during co-op and in the lab culminated in a capstone project with some of his closest friends from the mechatronics program. Together, they designed and built a small-scale rocket engine similar to those used to launch miniaturized satellites into orbit.

Currently on an internship at Apple, Krammer credits his early farm beginnings with giving him the strong work ethic that got him to where he is now.

“At SFU, the more you put in, the more you’ll get out of your experience,” says Krammer, who accepted Saeedi’s offer to join the engineering science master’s program. “My hard work has paid off and—thanks to my friends and professors—I’m living my dream.”