It took Etienne Naugle 10 years to find the program he always wanted to do. “I wish this had been available when I first went to school,” he says, looking back on his time as a mature undergraduate student in the School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering. “I always wanted to be an engineer but I just never found the right course.”
He made up for it as soon as he arrived at SFU, plunging headfirst into his studies and extracurricular activities and ultimately emerging with a degree that led straight to a new career. “I started at Recon Instruments [a Vancouver smart glasses and heads-up display developer] soon after graduation. Now I’m the lead R&D engineer here,” he says.
The job offers plenty of variety plus the kind of challenges he thrives on – and he says his SFU program proved to be the ideal preparation. “I get to use my mechatronics background overall, from mechanical design to writing code and electrical work. The diversity of the program really helped because I feel I can now be thrown into any problem and can confidently take it on.”
It’s the kind of approach Naugle also deployed during his time in school. As one of the very first students to undertake a degree in mechatronics at SFU back in 2008, he offered feedback and ideas on how the program was developing. “They really listened to what we thought and it was a great opportunity to help mold and improve things from the start.”
But he didn’t limit his input to curriculum matters. “The Burnaby campus had an Engineering Science Student Society but there wasn’t anything for MSE students out in Surrey – so we set one up. It allowed us to have our own events and helped develop a campus feel,” says Naugle, who became the first president of the Mechatronic Systems Engineering Student Society (MSESS), a popular organization that’s still running today.
He also helped rally fellow students for another new initiative. “There were so many competitions available to engineering students in Canada and some of us really wanted to take part,” he says, explaining his participation in team events including the Western Engineering Competition and the Unmanned Systems Canada Student Competition.
Looking back, Naugle says his time in mechatronics at SFU changed the course of his working life. And as for the future, he’s sure it will involve some interesting challenges. “There’s a lot I feel I can do with this degree. The only problem is going to be choosing what’s next!”