Skip to main content
Applied Sciences › Mechatronic Systems Engineering
SFU Co-op Student

empty
white windmills against a beautiful sunset
Credit
RawFilm on Unsplash
It’s important to remember that just because we are students, it doesn’t mean that we can’t make a lasting impact on an organization. The trick is to always aim higher and work hard.

I am a fourth-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Mechatronic Systems Engineering (MSE) at SFU. I had the opportunity to do my co-op with Ballad Power Systems where I worked in two drastically different engineering roles over the course of sixteen months. In 2017, Ballard became the first fuel cell company to power buses for more than ten million cumulative kilometers of revenue service.  The vision at Ballard Power is to be the leading global provider of innovative clean energy solutions offering superior performance at a reduced operating cost.

My education at SFU provided me with sufficient theoretical knowledge to make positive contributions to the organization as a co-op student in terms of improving product reliability, maintainability, and performance. What made working at Ballard so enjoyable is that its focus on offering smarter solutions for a clean energy future coincided with my own desire to solve energy and environment-centric issues.

Soroush in his uniform caring for the plants

During my first eight months as a Test Engineer, I developed skills in data analysis, effective troubleshooting, and mechanical thinking.  I was mainly responsible for aspects of performance evaluation, robustness, accelerated stress, and durability testing on the next generation fuel cell stacks for use in automotive power applications. This experience challenged both my technical and personal skills and significantly enhanced my knowledge about fuel cell systems and their dynamics. In terms of interpersonal abilities, I improved my written and oral communication skills by documenting test plans and procedures and preparing test reports to present results and recommendations to internal and external clients. Ballard’s innovative advancements in a wide range of stationary power distribution units and ‘motive power’ clean energy solutions such as hybrid buses, inspired me to pursue a co-op with Ballard for the second time. This position echoed my goals in the engineering profession and provided me with an excellent opportunity to expand my technical knowledge.

My second eight-month position at Ballard as a controls/electrical engineer exposed me to many technical details in software design and validation, high voltage and low voltage electrical design, and generating complex system requirements. While originally, I was only responsible for troubleshooting and resolving issues with the existing controls software for commercial fuel cell modules used in hybrid buses around the globe, my responsibilities progressively expanded to implementing and designing new features such as more reliable and robust control strategies. Dealing with new responsibilities is always overwhelming but I learned that creating a schedule, staying organized and asking for help when needed can make it all possible.

A few months later, I became more comfortable with my tasks as a controls engineer, which allowed me to get involved in electrical system design and verification rather than just focusing on software development. In addition to my existing duties, I also became responsible for selecting and testing electrical components and developing requirements for overall system design. Collaborating with test engineers, component and system design engineers, researchers, and applications engineers on a daily basis was a rewarding experience that provided me with unique insights in the field of engineering.

My main goal throughout each of my co-op terms has been to challenge myself and learn something new every day. I successfully achieved this goal by always trying to seek out new projects and challenges rather than passively waiting for tasks to be assigned to me. It’s important to remember that just because we are students, it doesn’t mean that we can’t make a lasting impact on an organization. The trick is to always aim higher and work hard.

Beyond the Blog

  • To learn more about opportunities for Mechatronic Systems Engineering students visit the Engineering Science Co-op homepage.

SFU Co-op Student
Soroush is a fourth-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Mechatronic Systems Engineering (MSE) at SFU. Connect with Soroush M. Jafaryvahed on LinkedIn.

You Might Like These... During the Work Term, Professional Development, Workplace Success, Workplace Transition, Communication

Co-op coordinator wth student during site visit
Make the Most of Your Co-op Site Visits

Your Co-op Coordinator, supervisor, and you in the same room -- time for a site visit! Co-op site visits are a time for reflection on your work term including what could be improved and what has been great so far.

person with their head in a book
Responsibility and Success

One of the most memorable parts of my time in co-op was the collection of accidents, errors, mistakes, and mix-ups that happened in the course of working in the laboratory.

 

A woman fast asleep
Sleeping for Success at Work!

The days of pulling all nighters and getting by on 2-3 hours sleep are over! Getting enough sleep is essential to ensure you can keep up with the demands of a fulltime work schedule and put forth your best performance.

You Might Like These... Co-op Reflections

Kamil on the phone, looking at the camera
Survival Guide 101: Keys to Office Survival

Welcome to Office Life 101. A wealth of friendly advice for the first time or inexperienced co-op student, and some advice as to what is required of you to not only survive, but to flourish in an office environment.

Gloria and her manager smiling
Working With a Disability

Disclosing a disability to an employer can be daunting at any point in your career but particularily as a student new to the workplace. Gloria Cheung, shares how she was able to not just survive but thrive with a little bit of support from her employer. 

Nikita and her mentor posing for a picture together
What I Didn’t Learn in Design School

Accepting a co-op internship, especially internationally, can be tough but once you earn the opportunity it can be a wonderful learning experience. Nikita was accepted for a UX design internship in Amsterdam and faced some unforeseeable challenges. Read on to find out some of the key lessons that Nikita took away from her experience.