Third-Year Green Process Engineering | ALSTOM (Power) Ltd.Where are you completing your internship placement?
Why did you select this company? I am currently working at ALSTOM (Power) Ltd., situated in Baden, Switzerland – a town just 20 minutes from Zürich. I chose my position at ALSTOM for two reasons. First and foremost, I wanted the opportunity to work amongst an international team at a multinational company with global reach. Secondly, I chose ALSTOM to experience living and working in a different country and culture.
What do you hope to gain from this internship experience?
Through this internship, I hope to bridge the gap between textbook knowledge and practical work experience. I hope to gain a better understanding of power generation and the kind of corporate R&D taking place around the world. Finally, I hope to gain skills that supplement my school knowledge and that will better equip me for a future career upon graduation.
How are you applying knowledge and skills you learned at Western Engineering?
Almost on a daily basis, I find myself thinking back to the fundamental principles and equations from courses I’ve taken at Western. I even often use my old lecture notes and PowerPoint slides for reference. Working as a product support engineer with the combustor of ALSTOM’s gas turbines, I’m making great use of my knowledge from thermodynamics, fluids and computational methods.
What type of roles/experiences have you had at your current placement?
I work primarily in an office environment and have had roles ranging from technical to administrative. In terms of technical experience, I work with real-time data gathered from fleet engines. The work involves significant teamwork, interfacing between on-site commissioning engineers and office/lab-based R&D teams. My placement has had me do everything from writing technical reports and translating documents to developing statistical models, troubleshooting engines on-site and presenting my findings and recommendations to the relevant stakeholders. Additionally, my placement in the heart of Europe has provided me no shortage of chances to travel and sightsee during my free weekends.
How has the internship enhanced your learning experience at Western Engineering?
My internship has taught me some valuable lessons about the things that we students often take for granted. Over the course of the last few months at work, I can’t remember the number of times I had to refer to course notes, textbooks and lecture slides. Our professors put a lot of time into preparing lectures for us and Western’s engineering program is strong enough to compete with many of Germany and Switzerland’s top schools. I regret not having better appreciated that before starting my internship.
What insights have you gained from this experience that will help you make decisions about your future career?
The most valuable insight I’ve gained from my internship is that you shouldn’t be afraid to jump outside of your comfort zone. Before accepting the position, I was scared that a one-year internship with turbomachinery and turbines would be too different from what I’d learnt in Green Process/chemical engineering. Ultimately, however, I’ve learnt that whether you’re in chemical, mechanical or even software, it really doesn’t matter what you study – what matters is a willingness to learn and overcome the inevitable difficulties of starting out at any new job.
Do you have any anecdotes to share about your experience?
Working and living abroad has changed my life in so many ways, helping me to open up my mind culturally, academically and professionally. Canada offers some very competitive intern salaries compared to other countries, which at first held me back from leaving. In the end, however, I’m so glad I chose the experience over the money. During my internship abroad, I’ve met people from almost every country in the world, learnt a new language, backpacked across Europe and made lifelong friendships and memories.
What do you enjoy the most/is the most rewarding about your internship?
By far, my internship has been defined by the people I’ve met. The friends and people I’ve met throughout my journey here have shown me the cultural differences between our countries, but more importantly, the similarities. At the same time, while meeting new friends from across the world, I’ve come to better appreciate the diversity and multiculturalism that we have in Canada.