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Ashley Powell

SFU Co-op Student
Applied Sciences › Mechatronic Systems Engineering
Organization
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With an objective to grow in any company, it makes it easier as a new engineer to progress in our profession and what I have learnt in my work at a production line and how I was able to transition from my academics to my first coop and then move onto Ballard Power Systems with the growth that I achieved.
Preparation
Previous Experience

Landing my first coop was in itself filled with anxiety which was induced due to my low grades in the first two years. Additionally, due to this anxiety, I felt that I was not good enough to apply for jobs and hence this lead to various lost job opportunities. After a lot of trial and error, I finally landed my first coop in a manufacturing company as a production line worker.

During my Experience
Orientation and First Weeks

For the first 4 months of this coop, I was given a task to develop production processes on a bigger scale and improved my troubleshooting skills by designing experiments and correlate results to the issues. For these projects, I stayed longer than required and also on the weekends on the given project.

This helped me in displaying dedication, hard work and commitment to the given tasks. This allowed me to work on the main project as well as side projects and hence optimize my growth at Ballard Power Systems. With Ballard Power Systems being a bigger engineering company, I was able to work on the professional aspects of being an engineer. I was able to polish my communication skills and decision-making skills which I was more comfortable with as I was included in high-risk projects. Thus, the objective of growing to the best of our ability at a company is what helps us grasp and identify opportunities that will give us the optimum progress in a company.

Learning and Adaptation

During this co-op, though it was full of repetitive tasks, I wished to make the most out of the opportunity that I had. Hence, I made it a habit to explore aspects of the company which I was interested in while finishing my daily tasks. This developed a sense of care towards the company where other co-op students were just looking at their tasks as something they need to do to get by, I was looking at how we can make the throughput better and improve the processes. As I persisted with this attitude, I was given tasks that were more crucial and had higher risks involved. Though most of the tasks were still repeatable, there was a higher risk of failure involved with them. Moving on from these tasks, I was given more responsibilities as my co-op progressed.

Wrap Up

Towards the end of my Co-op, I was given a task to design a production workflow that started from the assembly of the product and ended with testing and final quality assurance. To work on this, I had to work along with the team lead to design testing procedures and assembly jigs. As I was given more tasks, I started feeling more appreciated and more confident in my abilities. Though these tasks were not too challenging, I was able to stand out from other co-op students who were essentially hired for the same objectives. This improvement in the work assigned helped me realize that if you show a willingness to learn and dedication towards a project, supervisors and engineers will help you develop your skillset.

Reflection & Tips
Reflection

My main take away is that when we first join a company, figuring out potential opportunities for growth and then keep working hard to get these opportunities.

On the other hand, if we go into a company and focus on the negatives of a job, we are only blinded by the shortcomings of an organization that stunts our growth in the organization since it is hard to be dedicated towards a task. Lastly, if we are allowing ourselves to grow in a company, our supervisors will make sure that we grow with all the resources that they have which is ideal for a new engineer.