Category Archives: Professional Development

Mechanical Engineering Job Search

When looking for a job, ask yourself three questions

  • What do I want to work in?
  • Where do I want to work?
  • Which company is most suited to my future career?

Do a simple search on LinkedIn for mechanical engineering jobs and you’ll see the diverse fields in which a mechanical engineer can work, such as product design, manufacturing, HVAC maintenance, piping systems design, etc… Since there are so many different types of jobs, I started evaluating my preferences. There are two fields that I’m really keen on, first is automation services that will enhance my control and system modelling skills. I also want to get more practice with logic programming and instrumentation coding. The second field is power systems regulation and management, particularly in the renewable energy sector, despite it being more related to electrical engineering. I also like to work on CAD/CAM, skills that are mostly related to product design, validation, and development.

Company size, culture and established locations are also very important to me. Jobs available in the United States and Europe intrigue me, but my top locations are Seattle, New York, and Toronto. In terms of company size, I prefer a global company with job openings everywhere in the world. A globalized company will also allow for more internal mobility, in case I want to switch jobs across departments. A dynamic work environment and a motivated and cooperative team are what I look for in company culture. All these contribute to which jobs I apply to.

A couple companies are on my radar. Siemens is a German conglomerate company with heavy emphasis on automation. Some of their notable divisions are industrial automation, energy automation, building technologies, and drive technology. They have major branch offices in Germany, US and China. They have a prominent division called Gamesa Renewable Energy that have provided wind turbines to offshore and onshore wind farms in the UK and Denmark. An exciting recent development that Siemens Canada acquired is designing the power grid for New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, formally called the Smart Grid Atlantic Project. This project aims to analyzes challenges and opportunities involved in integrating renewables and improving the grid’s reliability and efficiency. I hope that by landing a job with Siemens Canada that I can transition to Siemens in US and participate in their engineering training programs. Another company I would be excited to work for is General Electric. GE is along the same lines as Siemens, a global product-focused company, except they started in the States. In terms of innovation, I think Siemens is a bit more sustainability centered.

There are also lots of regional and local companies I could apply to, not to mention the consulting field is another huge area for engineers to work in. I will explore these in the next blog.

Talk to you soon!

 

 

Engineering Mentoring: Tour of Corvus Energy

As I mentioned in the previous blog, my mentor is a senior engineer at Corvus Energy. This Monday, he showed me and another engineering mentee around their office and factory. Corvus Energy is a company that makes energy storage solutions, with their most novel product being arrays of battery banks for marine applications, from yachts to ferries. Their ingenuity comes from the robustness, reliability and modular ability of their product. Moreover, it has the flexibility meet different demands of various sizes of marine vessels, from small yachts to large ferries like Scandlines M/V Berlin, a Scandinavian fleet that travels between different ports of Denmark, Germany and Sweden. Seeing a Canadian technology emerge and be competitive in the global market was really impressive, especially when you consider the context. Scandinavia contains some of the world’s most sustainable countries that have made strides at implementing sustainable technology. Yet, it’s a Canadian company that has helped them make their ferries hybrid. Following this trend, I’m hoping that Metro Vancouver, with it’s Renewable City Action plan, will become one of Corvus Energy’s strong corporate client and partner down the road.

The tour gave me such an inspiration. The space was very bright, colorful, and full of energy. When I arrived at the office building, I could immediate tell it was an engineering work space. A section of the building was dedicated to testing and product improvement, with prototypes and instrumentation equipment laid out on work benches. What I also loved about the space was the openness. There was no barrier, no cubicle, allowing the engineers to exchange ideas, and to collaborate.

At the factory, my mentor showed us their product assembly line. On the roller table, there were numerous unfinished products, each representing a stage in the assembly process. Not only were the battery units assembled in the factory, they also underwent stringent testing and validation at every stage. A number of quality control gates were especially designed to ensure the final product will have zero defects before they are deconstructed and shipped off to clients. The cool thing about the factory was how it was expanding. Since Corvus Energy is a growing company, it required more assembly and storage space to accommodate new products. My mentor showed us how they had to build a second level in the warehouse and a new assembly line for new generation product.

With this sort of clean and organized work environment, both in the office and the factory, Corvus Energy employees can truly exert their full potential. My mentor also expressed the importance of connecting the office and factory so engineers can work more cohesively with the technicians on the floor. In my future work space, I would like to work not only with the products I design, but more importantly, establish a strong relationship with the people whose decisions I make affect.

If you want to check out Corvus Energy, here’s their website: https://corvusenergy.com. They have internships and Co-op positions available, so don’t be afraid to reach out!

Tune-in next time for more updates.

 

Engineering Mentoring Program

This year I registered for the mentoring program for undergraduate engineering students. This gave me an opportunity to connect with a professional engineer who has decades of experience in the energy industry that I am interested working in. So far we’ve chatted about the level of flexibility of my Mechanical Engineering degree. Although you won’t be able to attain an electrical or civil engineering job, there are still many positions that does not specify the type of engineering. This is often the case in mid to upper management levels. However, I can’t expect to land a job in management without much experience. The truth is, even entry-level job postings may have 3-5 years work experience as a requirement. I have only 16 months of co-op work experience, therefore it is challenging to apply. However, I feel confident that after being accepted into an entry position, I can work up the experience to eventually achieve management level. I am further assured of this by my mentor’s own experience of going from a technical-heavy job to the management position he has now. His experience has also showed me that it’s never too late to give yourself more education. After getting years of technical experience, I am looking to open up my options by getting a project management degree.

He has also offered help on reviewing resumes and cover letters that I am sending out. A few job positions that I have my eye on are with the Vancouver Airport Authority and Metro Vancouver. I am looking outside of BC. Ideally, I would like to work in Europe but I would also love to explore other places that challenge me. Having a mentor to support my job search is a fantastic resource. It has improved my confidence to apply to more challenging job positions.

We’re currently schedule to visit my mentor’s company this week. I am truly intrigued to find out more about what he does for work and what the environment is like.

This is a short blog, but as I continue my job search, I’ll update you with information about major companies hiring Mechanical Engineers, the jobs available, and tips for applying and getting through interviews!

If you want to check out the mentoring program for yourself, here’s the link: https://engineering.ubc.ca/research-industry/mentoring-program.

Finding a Summer Co-op Job

I’d forgotten how stressful looking for a Co-op summer placement can be. It’s my second time looking for a placement so I thought it would be easier, but it’s turning out to be just as difficult as the first time.  That being said, I’ve learned some things along the way.

Job applications take time and effort, so it’s easy to procrastinate at the beginning of the term.  Finding a job for the summer can feel like a midterm that’s a couple of months away.  You know you should be working on it, but there’s quite a bit of time right?  If you’re like me, a month can feel like an eternity away when you’re just trying to survive the week.

If you start early enough, there’s usually not much competition.  There will be quite a few job posting with relative low number of applicants.  As the term goes on, the number of job postings will start to go down and the number of applicants per post will start to shoot up.  50, 60, sometimes even 100 applicants per post will start to become the norm.  As the term goes on, school also ramps up with midterms and projects, making life a lot harder.

My advice is to not try to cram job applications.  It’s not impossible to find a job later in the term; it’s just harder and more stressful, so start early.

That’s my first point.

I was in this situation last year.  It was getting late in the term, and I still hadn’t found anything. So, I widened my search.  I’m personally interested in clean energy and it just so happens that UBC has a Clean Energy Research Centre.  I contacted the professor in the research area I was interested in, and managed to secure a 4-month position which was later extended to 8-months.

This brings me to my point second point: research opportunities on campus.

As I’m sure you know, a large part of what professors do is research.  If you’re interested in the research area they’re in, talk to them.  They are a really great source of knowledge, and if they don’t have a job for you, they might be able to push you in the right direction.

Not only will research give you valuable experience, but you can see if research is something you would like to purse in the future.  I personally had a blast in my position.   I got to work with hydrogen fuel cells, which was a technology I had always been interested in. I even managed to attend a fuel cell conference here in Vancouver which had presentations from industry leaders from all over the world.   Because of that, I now have a comprehensive layout of the fuel cell industry and know what companies are based here in Vancouver.  This will be extremely useful if I decide to pursue a career in the industry.  All of this happened because I talked to a professor.

So be proactive; you would be surprised about what you can find at UBC.

Good luck,

Rigoberto

What It Has Been Like to Be Involved in Mech and Be The President of Club Mech

Last year, I decided to set goals to help me improve as a person and a professional. I knew that something that has always mattered to me is being able to help and contribute to my Mech community. As such, I decided to run for the position of UBC Mechanical Engineering Undergraduate Club President (Club Mech) and was elected. Since then, I have been trying really hard to improve the connections with the department, help out wherever I can to increase the sense of community within students, and represent our student body as best as I can. It has not been as easy task, as it requires a lot of time commitment in meetings to help resolve student concerns, and volunteer work to develop activities that help our students.

Some of this year’s activities included professional development events related to what Building Science is and how Mechanical Engineers could follow this path by doing a masters, fun parties to socialize, selling amazing merchandise, providing feedback to improve our academic curriculum, helping our graduates obtain their Iron Ring, and giving our professors fun socks to remember us by; what a great time it has been planning these activities with my team!

Despite the long hours, being the Club Mech president has been one of the most amazing and memorable experiences in my undergraduate career, especially because I had an amazing team who was supportive, kind, dedicated and caring. If it wasn’t for them, I would not have been able to push through the hard and stressful moments. I want to say to them that I am thankful for your hard work and I appreciate everything you did. Thank you UBC Mechanical Engineering Department for caring so much about your undergraduate students. You are committed to educating the future engineers of Canada and that shows every day.

If you have the chance, make sure to join Club Mech and continue developing good relationships with faculty, staff and students.

Feel free to ask me any questions any time at ambassadors@mech.ubc.ca.

Until next time!

Diana Nino

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

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.

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