Saturday, April 11, 2009

Co-op Term on Campus

I am currently on a co-op work term, working on campus with a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Working on campus is great. I did not have to suffer the trauma of traveling somewhere unheard of and I already know the bus route.

My boss has a contract with the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) that involves predicting rainfall patterns throughout the province. The MTO is concerned with rainfall information because it would help them to design highways to handle the rainfall at a given location. Highways span the entire province, not just in cities areas where weather stations provide local data. Finding a suitable method of predicting rainfall patterns between stations is the objective of the contract. The challenge is that weather stations are so inconsistantly distributed. The stations are almost exclusively located in southern Ontario. This makes it difficult to predict rainfall in the northern parts of the province. The project involved an interim report, which will be my work report after a few tune-ups. It has also encouraged me to develop my computer skills emmensly. I did not know there was so much that I did not know.

Working in the faculty is a great experience. I have hands on experience with cutting edge research! Seeing the faculty from the inside changed my entire preception of universities. There is so much more that goes on than I knew about. Class is clearly not the highest priority, but it is all that a first year student sees. There is so much more after an undergraduate degree, so much fullfillment and so many applications. There is so much passion in the faculty. Everyone loves what they do, they would not have a PhD in it if they didn't. It is inspiring; it makes me want to learn!

My boss was teaching a graduate class this past term. It was very interesting to see such advanced applications of Civil Engineering, but also to see classes from the instructors perspective. He also manages all of the work reports for the faculty, actually his co-op (me) does this. It was nice to get so many tips on report writing from the guy who controls them.

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