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Shawn Liu

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

Position Title
The experience helps me gain some hand-on skills, such as operating the test rig and conducting damage assessments, as well as learning about the development of helmet technologies.
Experience Details
Application and Interview Tips

I applied the coop position through SFU MyExperience. As this is a research coop, most of the time will be spent working with researchers in the lab. I recommend doing some research regarding the lab to gain some insight about the work they do prior to an interview. 

Introduction + Preparation

To prepare for this experience, make sure to bring a notebook so you can document your experience for this coop.

Preparation Tips for Future Students

I would say just try your best to learn everything. Sometimes your tasks may be a bit repetitive, but you will learn a lot about helmet research, standards, technologies, and testing procedures along the way. 

During my Experience
Orientation and First Weeks

Usually the orientation will be provided by the previous coop student working in the lab prior to the coop. The orientation will be divided in 2 days with three hours each session. They essentially will get the next coop student up to speed with operating the lab equipment and showing some of the techniques for basic testing procedures. 

Day to Day

My day-to-day tasks involves many testing. I would be assigned a testing schedule each day and I would start my workday conducting damage assessment to make sure that the testing system functions properly. Then I would start diving into testing and collecting data for analysis.  

Learning and Adaptation

For me, most of my learning takes place in the first two months. Throughout this coop, I learned how each helmet standards, such as the NOCSAE for football helmet and CEN for bicycle helmet, was being conducted using a test rig. as well as learning the characteristics and features of different helmet technologies. However, after the first two months, the nature of my work can feel repetitive. To make up for it I was always striving to learn new things in the lab by asking what others are working on and try to look at the big picture of my role from the whole design process. 

Accomplishments and Challenges

There were many challenges when I was working in the lab, most notably on time-management. Since my role requires me to conduct high-impact testing, one could expect that the testing facility would need some form of maintenance occasionally. The challenge comes when I need to spend some time repairing the test system unexpectedly while manage my time to finish up my testing schedule. However, looking back I was able to accomplish many things, including develop a new testing protocol and improve the design of the test rig.  

Reflection & Tips
Connection to Academic Studies or Career Goals

This coop helped me learn about what an R&D environment feels like in a research lab and I hope my first technical work experience would get me closer to become a professional engineer. 

Advice for Future Students

I would highly encouraged students to try out research coops if they are not successful in securing their first coop in industry, and to anyone who wants to get some research experiences as an undergrad in university.


Shawn Liu

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

Shawn is a OLC Editor and a third-year mechatronic systems engineering student at Simon Fraser University who is passionate about UX research and aerial technologies. He is currently involved at his school’s UAV club focusing on developing a drone navigational system. In addition, he has helped test and develop head-injury prevention devices at one of his internships to enhance his technical skills. He is always looking for opportunities to grow in his personal and professional development.

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Sep 23, 2019