Thursday, March 26, 2009

Co-op Experiences as a Mechatronics Undergrad

Mechatronics Engineering is a combination of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering which has given me very broad opportunities. Through my work terms I have gained experience working on sheet metal enclosures for high voltage switches, working at a high tech company that makes software and working for a building design consulting company.

My favorite work experiences have been doing building design consulting. Through my work terms in building design, I have worked on the renovation of the UW Dana Porter Library and on the design of the new Waterloo Regional History Museum. Both projects were full of learning opportunities and it was amazing to work on buildings that are so important to the community that I live in.

Through this position, I did both Mechanical and Electrical building design. Mechanical building design includes: heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, sizing air flows, ducts and pipes and ensuring temperature and humidity requirements can be met and maintained all year round. Electrical building design includes: service load calculations, lighting calculations and ensuring user requirements for lighting and power were satisfied.

One of the most important parts of design is ensuring that the design is actually possible in the real world. This means that a lot of time is spent coordinating with all of the other engineers and architects involved in the building design process to make sure that everything will fit and work together seamlessly.

In addition to doing design work, I was also given opportunities to interact with clients and partnering firms. People skills are a very important part of my job as an engineer because it is important to be able to explain technical results and findings to clients in a way that they will understand. Organizational skills are also essential to my work because I always have many deadlines and milestones that I need to keep track of, as well as, long lists of things which must be designed, verified or confirmed.

The Waterloo Regional History Museum

One of the most exciting aspects of my work in building design has been the opportunity to work on environmentally friendly buildings. The museum that I worked on has been designed to be very environmentally friendly. A couple of the things that are being incorporated into the museum include rainwater collection, and energy recovery systems.

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