Sukhreet Kaur enjoys her co-op placement at Schneider Electric so much, she doesn’t want to leave. At the end of her eight-month work term, she was extended for an additional semester. This summer, she hopes to work part-time at the company while she continues her studies.
“The best thing is that I work on different projects, so I’m always learning new things, and the people – they are so helpful,” she says.
At Schneider Electric, a global energy management specialist, Sukhreet works hands-on with crucial engineering systems that generate electricity for commercial and residential buildings and power plants. Specifically, Sukhreet is testing power inverters that convert the direct current (DC) that flows from solar panels into alternating current (AC) so it can be used to power electric grids and off-grid systems (which store the electricity in batteries). It is a critical component in a solar electric system.
“I work with both the hardware and software, so I analyze how to make them work together and troubleshoot issues,” she says. “I don’t get frustrated when there’s an issue; I enjoy it for the same reason I like mathematics – I love solving problems.”
To test the solar inverters, Sukhreet’s team recreates the hefty machines at smaller scales, and then runs tests to eliminate any faults. It’s a complex procedure: the software that controls the inverters contains more than a thousand parameters to accommodate the end users’ various requirements.
“After four months on my placement, my manager believed in me so much, he gave me responsibility for my own testing project,” says Sukhreet, who has worked on about five major projects since she embarked on the placement nine months ago. To manage her test cases, Sukhreet liaises with people in India, France and the United States, to ensure the testing process adheres to project plans and deadlines.
Sukhreet is also taking part in a major process-improvement project: changing the system from manual testing to software automation in Python, a programming language. She and her manager developed the idea together. “Before it took three to four days to test one file, now it takes three to four hours,” she says.
Sukhreet says she “loves school,” but co-op has given her the opportunity to gain crucial professional development skills outside the classroom. “I have learned hands-on technical skills that I might not have learned anywhere else, and I also learn how to talk in a professional way to people from all over the world.”