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Jasmine de Leon

SFU Student Undergraduate
Applied Sciences › Mechatronic Systems Engineering
Co-operative Education › Local Co-op

Organization
My experience at BC Hydro has become one of the highlights of my academic journey at SFU. Contributing to the Site C Clean Energy project alongside professionals has taught me the true responsibility of engineers.
Experience Details
Semester
Spring
Summer
Year
2023
Skills
Introduction + Preparation

Throughout my education, I have heard from various people that BC Hydro was an excellent company to work for – making it a long time goal of mine to get the opportunity to work there! When the company was hiring for co-op students, they had a variety of engineering disciplines to apply to, and I sent in applications to areas that best suited my expertise. To prepare for the interview, I educated myself on their products, services, as well as their mission statement and values. It was very beneficial to know about their values for both the interview, and working here. 

Previous Experience

I am a fourth year Mechatronic Systems Engineering student, and through my courses I learned topics from a variety of disciplines - including Mechanical, Electrical, Computer and Control Engineering. Prior to joining the BC Hydro team, I worked in an Additive Manufacturing lab for an R&D co-op, where I learned about advanced 3D printing techniques.

Preparation Tips for Future Students

Some tips I would give to future students that want to work at BC Hydro are:

  1. In addition to technical skills, try to actively develop interpersonal skills as well.
    I felt that attributes such as clear communication, organization, professionalism, accountability, etc. went a long way throughout my experience.

  2. Be willing to learn
    Willingness to learn and adapt to a new workplace, and the work itself takes time. Sometimes there are many different ways to approach and solve a problem

  3. Ask the interviewer(s) about skills that would make you successful in the role
    This could give you insight as to what your team may be working on, team structure, and help you prepare in joining the BC Hydro team!

During my Experience
Orientation and First Weeks

My first day consisted of an online orientation that included all the new and returning co-op students across all the BC Hydro locations. There was a brief icebreaker to introduce all the new co-ops, and then there were speakers from various departments. It also included presentations regarding safety, business rules, confidentiality, workplace expectations, etc. As my team was working on Site C, there was also a specific Site C Orientation and Onboarding that I attended that outlined the details of the project to the newcomers. 

In my first few weeks, my supervisor helped me get set up in the office and assisted me in getting access to things I would need throughout my term. I was given some light tasks, and began shadowing my supervisor or other team members to help me become more familiar with the work I would be doing. There were many online courses I had to take, as well a lot of forms and administrative stuff that I had to become familiar with. Aside from the training and onboarding, I spent time meeting and connecting with other colleagues, learning more about others roles’ on the team - as well as how my role fits into the team, and fits into the project as a whole. 

Day to Day

The nature of my work was hybrid, and I had the opportunity to work from the downtown office, as well as from home. My typical day to day tasks included:

  • Attending meetings, and taking minutes about what was discussed.
  • Create, update and maintain schedules.
  • Assist in the review process; receive and return engineering drawing packages. 
  • Locate documents and drawings within databases.
  • Complete tasks assigned to me by my supervisor, or other colleagues. 
Learning and Adaptation

My experience at BC Hydro provided me with rich learning opportunities on both a personal, and professional level. Some things I learned include, but not limited to:

  • Project Management
    The team I worked with focuses on aspects of project management, ensuring that the contractors building Site C adhere to the projects’ specifications. I learned a lot about both project management and construction procedures. The opportunity to both observe, and work alongside professionals from different backgrounds towards a common project was an invaluable experience. 

  • Hydroelectric Generation
    I was able to learn in-depth how hydroelectric generation works, and powers our province. It was interesting to see how topics that are learned in class, such as fluid dynamics and power electronics, can be applied in practice.  

  • Problem Analysis
    Being able to observe and learn from practicing engineers dramatically changed the way I see problems, and how to approach their solutions. 

Cultural and Environmental Observations

Company
The environment and culture at BC Hydro is very inclusive, welcoming and professional. The company provides its employees with easy access to supportive resources, emphasizes personal growth and teamwork. During orientation, I noticed that many full-time employees have worked at BC Hydro for decades, and some were once co-op students or Engineers in Training (EITs) at the company early in their careers. Many returned back to BC Hydro, as they felt that the company had treated them well and had many opportunities for professional development and growth. Everyone I worked with and spoke to was very kind, and willing to aid in my personal development and learning whenever possible. BC Hydro encourages teamwork and collaboration, and I felt that support throughout my eight months. 

Team
Further, I noticed that in contrast to previous work and school experiences, there are many women that work at BC Hydro. It was inspiring to see professional women, many with the P. Eng designation, working in important and key positions within the company. Within the team I worked in, about half of us were women! 

With my previous co-op, I had encountered some challenging situations, and I am grateful that the BC Hydro team was able to provide me with an environments that allowed me to learn as an upcoming Engineering professional by providing me with so many positive experiences. 

 

Reflection & Tips
Reflection

My experience at BC Hydro has been exceptionally valuable, and has aided me in both my professional and personal development. Hearing from various people that “BC Hydro is an excellent company to work for!” throughout my educational career – I can proudly confirm that the statement is true. I thought this was an entirely good experience, and enabled me to develop professionally and personally. 

Most Valuable Aspects of This Experience

While on study terms, I often found it difficult to vizualise how the topics we learn are applied in practice. It was too easy to tunnel vision into certain topics while studying, and not understand how it fits into a big picture. In a classroom, most deliverables revolve around theoretical scenarios that are graded by instructional staff. For example, if you make a calculation error for a project, typically the worst that would happen is that you receive a lower grade for that deliverable. This usually affects only myself, and any group mates. The scope seems small, and on a personal level.

With BC Hydro being a large company with huge province-wide projects, I had the opportunity to see how things that are taught in school are used in the ‘real world’, and how they directly benefit society, or massive groups of people. 

During my term, I would attend meetings where engineers and consultants discuss the construction and progress of Site C. Everyone had to meticulously consider every detail of the dams’ development, no matter how small something may seem. If any errors were made or overlooked, it would have the potential to cost thousands (or millions) of dollars, put the publics’ safety at risk, or disrupt a construction timeline. All of which affect much more than just one person, or a small group of people.
Seeing this in practice really showed me first-hand how much responsibility engineers have, and how they must be both accountable, and confident in their work. Engineering documents are passed through the hands of dozens of engineers and professionals for approval, before they are constructed. 

Towards the end of my term, I was lucky enough to have had the chance to visit Site C, and I could see the project I have contributed to - right in front of me! The site visit taught me a lot, and seeing the dams’ construction with your own eyes was the only way to truly illustrate the scale of the project, and the engineering feat that it is. 

Connection to Academic Studies or Career Goals

This co-op placement has further narrowed down what I may want to pursue after graduation. I really enjoyed working for a big company, amongst many professional engineers and experts in the field. Due to my placement having a large emphasis on project management, I would also be looking forward to the possibility of taking any courses or doing further work with Owner’s Engineering, or project management. 

Advice for Future Students

BC Hydro is a great place to work, and there are many different departments and areas to work and grow within. I recommend applying early, and directly through their portal. The interviewing and hiring process is rather slow, and they get many applicants. Good luck!

Author

Jasmine de Leon

SFU Student Undergraduate
Applied Sciences › Mechatronic Systems Engineering
Co-operative Education › Local Co-op
visibility  429
Sep 12, 2023