Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Bombardier Aerospace: Taking my Education to New Heights

Back in Grade 12, when I first applied to attend McMaster University, I was skeptical about pursuing engineering. I wondered if it was really for me or if I was choosing a completely wrong path. So, I chose to enter the engineering co-op program so that I could begin to learn first-hand whether or not this career path was a good fit. As first year came to a close, I found out that I was successful in my application to the materials science and engineering stream and the engineering & management program. I felt ‘wide-eyed and bushy-tailed’ with excitement about my future!
My view walking into work every morning

I had applied for an engineering co-op position at Bombardier Aerospace in early January and was extremely excited and honoured to receive my offer letter in mid-April. I began my position in May and have been working Monday to Friday ever since. All of the student interns are given some sort of project to work on over the 600 hour period that they must complete over the summer.  My position is within the maintenance programs and planning sector, one of three sub-sections of the maintenance engineering department.

Editing PCTEL files at my desk
At Bombardier, we maintain computer records known as “PCTEL” files (parts, consumables, tools, equipment, labour). These files contain the information on the tasks required to adequately maintain different plane models, which is a very important procedure. This is where I come in! My job is to update these files based on the most recent revisions, and improve the automation of how they’re updated. I’ll be working with Excel and Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) to complete this task.

So far, I’ve been extremely happy with the warm and welcoming environment around the office. Bombardier has nearly 5,000 staff members on-site and every single one that I’ve had the opportunity to interact with has been respectful and caring. I found that a lot of the staff are very unique and encourage humour around the office! When I’m not working away on the PCTEL files, I might be attending daily meetings featuring conference calls to Montreal, getting a tour of some of the 1.8 million sq. ft. of production space or learning the acute importance of building strong relationships with those you meet in the workplace.

Bombardier & WestJet celebrate the delivery of the Q400 planes
Just the other day, I got my first opportunity to interact with members of the materials and processing department. The people I met with were all so willing to tell me everything about what they do; they gave me amazing material to read (*pun intended) and offered me the opportunity to tag along with them in the labs and on site from time to time. I even met a woman who graduated from McMaster’s materials engineering program just a few years ago! This job has been an unbelievable opportunity thus far and I know it will just continue to get better as time goes on. Of course, I cannot possibly say that I know for a fact that engineering is right for me based on my three weeks of work, but I can say this much – I haven’t felt this passionate about something in a long time. I simply cannot wait to continue to learn and grow as an engineer. 

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