Reflecting back on Co-op

Hi everyone, this is Arthi – a new MECH ambassador blogger! After one month into the Fall term, I have had enough time to transition from the co-op mindset to focusing on school again. I am also looking back on the last eight months I spent working at Cadex Electronics, located in Richmond, BC.

Co-workers at Cadex Electronics

Electronics as a Thermofluids major? Yes, I was skeptical about it too when I took the job, but I wanted to expand my skillset. I was hired into the friendly mechanical engineering team at Cadex to help with one primary project – managing heat dissipation inside industrial battery chargers – very relevant to my focus. I won’t get into the details of the project here, but here are the outcomes:

  • I developed a more intuitive understanding of conductive and convective heat transfer
  • I became more competent in prototyping with electronic hardware and collecting data
  • I learned how to design experiments and interpret test data to implement practical design solutions.

These are transferrable technical experiences that will help me with my Capstone project (future blog) this year, and even help me to find a job after graduation. So the moral of the story is to be open to co-op opportunities that you think you may not have all the skills for. You will be surprised to see how quickly you can learn with determination.

I also have a tip for anyone who is going to do co-op, or currently in co-op. Remember the learning objectives you are supposed to write and submit to the Co-op Office at the beginning of every work term? In addition to writing appropriate learning objectives based on your job description, use those as an opportunity to create some goals for technical skills you want to learn. I really wanted to gain experience using electronic sensors and integrating them into a setup for mechanical experiments. I made this as one of my learning objectives and talked to my supervisor to find an appropriate project. As a result of that, I got to select and wire accelerometers for conducting drop testing of electronic products. This was also very useful to the company because it provided the mechanical design team with deceleration values experienced by their products. They can now use this data to improve the strength of their industrial battery chargers and analyzers.

Overall, it was satisfying to end my last co-op work term at Cadex Electronics. Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions about co-op. I feel refreshed and ready to tackle seven courses this term! I hope you will stay tuned for the next post.

Arthi

HERE WE GO… AGAIN

Same place, new voice.

As I read Ashley’s old back-to-school post, I found myself nodding at every word like they were the grains of truth. Indeed, because I’m taking the same courses (minus 2, add another), I feel like I should discuss another very important aspect of back-to-school: how to absorb the most out of my 4th year of Mechanical Engineering.

(My lovely coworkers from YVR)

(My first tour for Mechanical Engineering Student Services)

First, I should mention I’m coming back from 16 MONTHS of Co-op, where I worked under senior engineers and helped them complete their projects. Why is that important? One word-transitioning. Back-to-school to most of you may be leaving the comforts of the summer sun, but for me, it’s also a call-back to homework, assignment deadlines, and study nights.

So I asked myself, “How do I prepare for this?” How do I take the work ethics and skills that I’ve gained in Co-op and fully utilize them in school? Well, to kick off any good project, you must have visions, so I created visions for this semester:

  • Ace my courses (using the work ethics from Co-op!)
  • Build a support network (be inspirational and positive like my Co-op supervisors!)
  • Learn new things (using the drive from Co-op!)

Then I set down the steps to achieve my visions. For the first one, “acing my courses”, I followed one simple rule: “know what you should be learning”. If there’s anything I learned from Co-op, it is the value of self-directed progress. To elaborate, this means you shouldn’t need your supervisor to check up on you every hour, or even, every day. When I was in Co-op, my supervisor would go on one week vacations! At first I was afraid that the small amount of work would make me slack off, but then I quickly learned that by checking on my own progress every day. For example, I jotted down tasks on the log book and then reviewed their completion by the end of the day, the sense of fulfillment and autonomy I had achieved was much greater than any approval my supervisor could give. How can I apply this to my studies? Get a log book. Know what the learning objectives are for each course. At the end of each week, follow-up with yourself: “how comfortable am I with this material?” If you don’t understand something in lectures, quickly jot it down in a log book so you can review them after class. Take this piece of advice with a grain of salt, but from my Co-op experience, anything you don’t understand can be taught by Google! Aside from that, Co-op taught me the importance of a well-designed work environment to your ability to concentrate and be productive. Half a month before school started, I set-up the most productive work station at my dorm. This includes a good lighting, big desk, dual monitors, printer, and stationary at the ready.

The second vision is not as straight forward. Building a network of inspirational and positive people requires time and energy. When I was still in Co-op, I learned a lot about team-building, and I’m taking it back to school. Like working on a project, you have to be communicative and supportive. Be open and honest about life and you’ll be surprised how strong your connection becomes. When I am in the right mental attitude, I found myself quickly surrounded by people who are giving and generous. These people include team members from student design team, supervisor and coworkers form work-learn, new exchange friends, and first year friends. When you build a solid network, you feel more confident about challenging assignments, quizzes and exams. When you struggle together, the victory is just so much sweeter!

Lastly, I want to talk about how Co-op has motivated me to learn new things. I remember the first day I started working at Vancouver International Airport, I was handed a project scope and told I’ll be running the project. Unexperienced as I was, I quickly learned to reach out to resources (senior coworkers, the YVR intranet) and to learn from past projects (for permits, specifications, etc). With that strategy, I was able to accomplish new tasks and in the end, successfully finishing the project at YVR. This semester, I’m planning to or have already reached out to friends with more experience to learn new skills like graphic design, event photography, and 3D scanning.

So there you go! That is how Co-op could actually make your transition back to school so much easier. More importantly, my Co-op experience has had a positive effect on my ability to absorb my fourth year in UBC Mechanical Engineering!

Since I am preparing myself for a semester abroad (in DENMARK), I will be writing about that in my next blog! Let me know if there’s any subject in particular you would like to hear about. And of course, email me if you wish to connect!

Let’s own this semester together,

Kirsten

Mental shifts and Start of Semester Rush

Hi everyone!

Listen, I get it. There’s a lot of reading to do in this program. I’ll try to break things down into thematic sections below so you can get to what interests you the most.

My predecessors have written about their academic experiences and course details in past posts (see September 2016 here), so I thought I’d write about the extracurricular side of things. Most of these posts will focus on topics related to co-op, design teams, and exchange experiences.

A. Choosing a Design Team

September arrives a bit differently every year. In MECH2, you’re corralled on-campus a week before everyone else, giving you the opportunity to strut around like you own the place or grieve uncontrollably for the loss of lazy summer days. It’s also recruitment season for our design teams, of which there are many.

You’ll see various info sessions and application forms posted across social media. How does one possibly decide which team would be the right fit? What if you like rockets and submarines equally? Here are a few tips from my own experiences:

  1. While there are natural fits for students that are determined to get into one particular industry, for those that are unsure, find a team with projects that will best develop your engineering skills. I didn’t grow up as a hard-core gearhead for example, but I knew Formula did the kinds of analyses and design work that interested me and that made it easier to stay committed to their projects.
  2. Prioritize a team with a dynamic that matches your personality. Team and work dynamics can make a huge difference in morale and learning. It’s one of the first things people bring up about their co-op jobs, for example.
  3. The foundations of engineering are present in any student team to some degree, so if you’re set on learning about fluid dynamics, or continuum mechanics, you aren’t limited to just one team that offers that sort of work. Ask each design team about their potential projects!

B. School vs Co-op mindsets

  1. Every semester following a co-op term has been a struggle for me. Co-op terms have typically ended the week right before school starts up again and the extra mental load of school took some time to adjust to.
  2. While many of my colleagues swore they’d review course material, excuses ran wild in the weeks leading up to September. Summers are hard, man; how do you fit course review in between hikes, road trips, and satisfying your Instagram followers? I’m guilty of missing this resolution too, but I feel it’s important in a program like ours, where upcoming material builds heavily from previous.

    And it’s not only good for learning sake, but for work ethic too. It gets your brain in the habit of staying alert past clocking-out of your shift. While we all endeavour to sleep at a reasonable hour, late night study sessions are all too common come midterm season.

What are some of your own challenges as school rolls back around? Let me know in the comments below. Also if you have any questions regarding student teams, interviews, typical work, etc., I’ll try to get to them before the next post.

Happy studying for now,
Jason

The End to a Crazy Week!

 

Hi guys, its Diana again; and yes, I am alive!

If you read my last post, you know that I just had reading break. The first two of days were great because I had the chance to get a good amount of sleep. Throughout the break, I studied and did assignments almost every day. They were very long so, I had little time to study the material for the three midterms I had this week. Anyway, I know I put a lot of effort and tried my hardest, so I am sure they will be okay.

My crazy week started by writing a midterm almost every day. Things went okay and by 12 pm Thursday I was finally free to focus on WiSE 2017; my networking event. I have to say I am extremely proud of the amount of effort and work my amazing committee and I put into making this event a success. The feedback from it has been very good. It was definitely the happiest point of my week. Organizing an event for more than a hundred people really requires a lot of responsibility, but knowing that all of your attendees enjoyed it makes all the effort worth it.

Since finishing Mech 2, I haven’t had that many super busy weeks, so the past week was a bit of a surprise. I can’t say I miss it! On the bright side, I learned a lot about myself during that week, and for the most part I managed my time effectively. This is one of the invaluable skills you learn in Mech.

Reading Week is finally here

I am very excited about reading break. I look forward to sleep and taking a well-deserved rest. So far this week has been great, but tomorrow is my first Mechanical Engineering Lab Tour. For this tour, I will be taking the students to some of our awesome labs:

The Anechoic Chamber: The Anechoic Chamber is a fundamental test facility for acoustical research. It is quite unusual both physically and acoustically.  Its surfaces are made of highly sound absorptive glass-fibre wedges, creating an almost completely sound-reflection-free environment. Currently, the chamber contains two microphone-array acoustical antennas being used to localize sources of sound — in particular, on musical instruments.

MAL (Manufacturing and Automatization Lab): conducts research in the mechanics and dynamics of metal cutting operations, spindle design and analysis, micro-machining, virtual simulation of machining operations and CNC machine tools; design and digital control of high speed feed drives; precision machining, sensor assisted intelligent machining; and chatter stability of cutting processes. The academic articles published out of this lab receive the highest citation in the world in the field of manufacturing.

Although I consider myself a pretty “easy to talk to” type of person, I have to admit my strength isn’t necessarily public speaking. So, even though I am a bit scared, I am excited for this opportunity because I have the chance to learn something new and take on a challenge. I know it will be a good tour – I should know, I prepared all the logistics of the tour to make sure it is a success.

If you are interested in attending one of our future lab tours send an email to: studentassistant@mech.ubc.ca to save a spot. Our next tour will be on March 24th from 10:30 am – 12:30 pm, and includes an academic advising session.

Once this tour is over, I am going to relax for a week. . . because the week after my life is going to be crazy! I have three midterms and two assignments during that week. But wait there is more… I will also be the MC for the Women in Engineering Networking Event, for WiSE 2017! This a yearly event for which I am also the chair this year. WiSE 2017 is an amazing opportunity for female students to network with well experienced female professionals in industry and academia. So as you can see, I really need a couple days off!

See you next time!

1st Year Networking Event

 

If you like interesting stuff, have a passion to learn more about how the world works, and love things that move, then Mechanical Engineering is for you; and we want you!

The Mechanical Engineering Department hosts a first year networking event every term. This event gives student the opportunity to connect with Alumni, Professors and current students and talk about their great experiences. This event is a great chance to learn more about things you wouldn’t find in a recruitment brochure, such as student teams, research opportunities, and the industry at large. When I was in first year, I didn’t have the chance to attend these types of events because I wasn’t aware they existed. I have to say I really wished I had because it would have helped prepare me for my second year of mechanical engineering at UBC.

As a transfer student from Langara College, I can say that there is a big difference between college and university education. Classes, professors and grading are very different. It took me a while to get used to this, and get familiar with the kinds of different study methods to become the student I am today.

The students who come to these events really get firsthand knowledge and the inside scoop on the program from current students, professors and alumni. So, if you are in first year engineering in UBC or other colleges, then keep an eye out for opportunities like these.

You can check out the mechanical engineering website for future opportunities, such as Networking Events, Lab Tours, or Student Blogs.

If you have any questions, email me at: ambassadors@mech.ubc.ca

Mech 223 and Mech 2 Taco night

It is true that Mech 2’s curriculum is intense, especially during that time of year when you are hungry,  tired and trying to complete your design project “on time” – but it is a good experience to go through. For example, last week Mech 2 students had the opportunity to apply their engineering skills to a real world project. Their project consisted on the creation and design of a prototype vehicle that can successfully deploy a set of “landers” on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. Students worked long hours for about month (while taking classes) to have a prototype vehicle ready for competition day. During the competition, the prototypes were tested in five different rounds. The team who had the best prototype won the competition.  The reward you may ask? Bragging rights! Yeah, that’s pretty cool!

The whole process is part of Mech 223, a design focused course with a new challenge every year. I would say that the most rewarding part of taking a course like this is making something that works and moves. I had a great time during my Mech 2 design challenge. When I was in Mech 2, we created a completely autonomous vehicle that had to move through different paths (straight, curved or sloped). To be honest, it was very challenging because it required programming, gear boxes, electrical sensors, and more, but I feel like I learned a lot of things I had no idea about.

Apart from being able to learn about the design process and build something cool from scratch, you also get refreshments from Club Mech the night before competition. This year in particular, Club Mech made soft tacos! As you can see by the pictures, the Mech 2s look very happy.

Hopefully you too have the chance to go through this experience. I assure you that you will learn so much about yourself, design in mechanical engineering and how to work with others.

E-week has Come and Gone! MECH Rocked!

https://www.facebook.com/UBCEngineers/photos/a.224912160997884.1073741828.171391373016630/750216988467396/?type=3&theater

Original photo from: UBC Engineering Undergraduate Society Facebook Page

This week was super fun, but also busy. The life of a Mech student sometimes makes you wish that days can actually be longer than 24 hours. Most Mech students are involved in extra-curricular activities. Some are part of Club Mech or student teams such as, Baja, Formula, Thunderbots, AeroDesign, etc.; others are part of ex-officio clubs, such as Alpha Omega Epsilon (AOE), Sigma Phi Delta (SPD) and Women in Engineering (WiE). There are a lot of positive things that come out of joining groups like these at UBC. In my opinion, the most valuable skills you can learn from these activities is the ability to work with people and effectively succeed in the accomplishment of a project. Whether your interest is related to technical skills or group management, these groups really give you the opportunity to explore your abilities. This is what Club Mech does for me, and that is why E-WEEK is an important time for our Club.

https://www.facebook.com/ClubMech/photos/a.190109334434008.34643.100699010041708/974312349347032/?type=1&theater

Original photo: UBC Club Mech Facebook Page

Our goal for this year was to win first place in E-WEEK. As the week went on, we participated in all the activities, but sadly we didn’t get enough points to win 1st place. Mech placed 5th out of 12 engineering teams that competed. Although we did not win, the experience and memories of friendship that were created that week will last a life time.

I think we are lucky that UBC engineering has a good Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS). They organize so many events during the academic year, so undergraduate students from every department have a chance to relax, enjoy and socialize through their university experience. So, thank you to the EUS for organizing such a fantastic E-WEEK! You can find out more about the EUS here.

The sense of community at UBC Engineering is great. By participating in events, clubs and teams, you will meet great people from different departments that can potentially teach you interesting things about their lives and careers.

Until next time,

Diana

E-week is Coming

https://www.facebook.com/UBCEngineers/photos/a.762840317205063.1073741909.171391373016630/762841990538229/?type=3&theater

Original Photo from: UBC Engineering Undergraduate Society

This week in particular has been rather crazy for me. I have been trying to organize my schedule to make sure I have enough time for my extracurricular activities, classes and work. Time management is a key skill in the life of a Mech student. We usually get pretty good at this during Mech 2; after all it is a busy program.

Anyways, the reason why life is so busy right now is because E-week starts next week! As Vice-President of Club Mech I have to participate in as many events as possible. For those of you who don’t know, E-week is an undergraduate “Engineering faculty” competition week during the second term of classes and is hosted by the Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS). They plan a lot of events such as opening ceremonies, cooking with beer, true engineer (participants build a structure made out of materials from the dollar store in a short period of time), new red old red (a fun undergraduate and alumni casual networking event), etc. and give participants points for their attendance. The department that has the most points wins the competition.  If you want to know more, you can check out some of the events here. This is an important time for us undergrads to represent the Mechanical Engineering department and show our pride.

In the past, Mech has won the competition many times, but that hasn’t been the case in the last 2 years. Our Club Mech President Ashley Mak wants us to win, so we will do our best to beat the other departments! With all the events going on, I have to make sure I have time to complete my assignments, study and participate in activities. So far, I have managed to set up a schedule that allows me to do everything for that week, but I have to say it will require dedication, long hours and tons of reminders and alarms… I will let you know how it all goes. Fingers crossed that we win E-week!

Hope your week is going great. Thanks for reading.

Diana

And We Are Back!

Another term has started! This is the first week of classes, and so far things are in line, stress levels are low and Mech students are rested and happy. A common topic these days is: which technical electives should we take as part of 4th year? Mech offers a wide range of technical electives that you can choose from based on your interests. Some examples include: Thermofluids, Biomedical, Mechatronics, Acoustics, Fuel cells, Aerodynamics, etc. You can find more about this in the Mechanical Engineering website. Personally, I like topics related to robotics, manufacturing, solid mechanics and thanks to a great professor I had last term, I think I also like thermodynamics. I have decided to take:

  • Mech 491 – Computer-Aided Manufacturing: this course got my attention the very first time I was looking at all the courses in Mech. It aims to teach the theory and applicability of numerical computer programming together with CAD/CAM (Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided manufacturing) systems. The labs seem okay so far, but from what I have hear from previous students is that the projects take a lot of your time. So more on that later on.
  • Mech 495 – Industrial Engineering: Aims to teach you how engineering connects to other fields in the industry, such as management, maintenance, quality control, coding and classification, manufacturing systems, etc. If you ask me, it seems pretty interesting.

I mention the topic of electives because I noticed a lot of my friends have been attending different courses during the first week of classes to determine what subjects they like the most. Their decision making is based on: topics covered, lecture schedule (many students don’t really like 8 am classes) and the prof who is teaching the course. This is something you can do as well once you get to 4th year. This way, you will really choose something you like in every aspect.

I think this term has been interesting. I hope it is full of fun!

Thanks for reading! Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have regarding my life in Mech. Hope you have a good week.

 

Diana N.