Engineering students discuss benefits of co-op placements

Students from the course-based Master of Mechanical Engineering - Automotive program bring valuable skills with them into the workplace, says Gordon Leslie.

Corporate engineering manager at automotive parts supplier the Narmco Group, he was in attendance Wednesday at the Centre for Engineering Innovation for poster presentations by students on their experiences with co-operative education placements.

The Narmco Group was one of those co-op employers, and Leslie said engineering grads make a good fit for the industry.

“We used to promote toolmakers but we now we’re looking at hiring people with an engineering background,” he said. “Engineering students are learning to tackle problems.”

He was impressed with contributions by Triyambak Tripathy, who completed a co-op work term but has continued in a part-time job with the firm while he completes his degree.

“(Tripathy) is a very quick study and good at paying attention to details,” Leslie said. “He was able to communicate and get his message across to different levels of employees, from the shop floor to the executives.”

Tripathy’s poster described his time working to analyze a wheelhouse reinforcement assembly on the Jeep Cherokee. An improvement he suggested will save the automaker hundreds of thousands of dollars over alternatives.

He said he hopes to turn the opportunity into a full-time job when he graduates.

“This was an incredible experience because it exposed me to a real-time industrial environment,” Tripathy said. “Co-op gives you an idea of the hands-on skills of the job.”

He was one of 14 students discussing their experiences with faculty, industry partners, and students considering experiential learning opportunities.

It’s a wonderful showcase of the benefits of co-operative education, said Soula Serra, team lead for academic partnerships in the Centre for Executive and Professional Education.

“The students get experience, they get networking opportunities, and for international students, they get a taste of the Canadian workplace culture,” she said.