Q&A with Santosh Solaiyappan

This was also a big advantage of the common first year, I gained a very good idea of the engineering workload and what I would be able to learn in upper years.

Santosh Solaiyappan

Third Year Mechatronic Systems Engineering


Santosh is a student ambassador here to answer your questions. Click here to contact Santosh.

Why did you choose mechatronics systems engineering?

I’m interested in pursuing a very specialized graduate program in engineering; thus, it would be beneficial to acquire a wide foundation with several skills from a lot of other disciplines. Mechatronics is the perfect program in this sense, you get to learn fundamentals of electrical, mechanical and software engineering. Which would set you up to comfortably pursue any specific concept or design method in any of the above disciplines on your own time. I have personally found that I enjoy electrical design a lot more than coding or CAD modelling, the electrical part of my course load allowed me to learn PCB design a lot quicker.

From my experience in clubs and research internships, I’ve noticed engineers are usually required to use skills from different disciplines for the same project despite being assigned to a specific subsystem. This made me realize the value of mechatronics engineering. A fun bonus, with mechatronics is you get to build a full-fledged robot (complete electrical, mechanical and software design) in just your second year!

Why Western Engineering?

I chose Western Engineering, because of how flexible and well rounded the program was while also being one of the top engineering programs in the country in terms of placement and overall quality of education. I initially wanted to pursue a dual degree with astrophysics and Mechatronics Systems Engineering, which is not a very popular combination and most other Universities could not guarantee that I’d be able to pursue this option. With Western, this option was guaranteed as long as my grades were high enough, after my first year I decided not to pursue the astrophysics degree and it was just as easy to switch back with the Faculty of Engineering. This was also a big advantage of the common first year, I gained a very good idea of the engineering workload and what I would be able to learn in upper years. As a high school student, it’s difficult to determine what career we would like to pursue, but as we finish first year, we get a much deeper insight and are usually able to make a very well-informed decision.

Before I accepted my offer, I wanted to find out what student life is like at Western Engineering from current students. Since I did not know about the Engineering ambassador program, I just reached out to a random upper year, and they were extremely happy to help a prospective student!

This told me quite a lot about the Western Engineering community and how supportive and helpful everyone is. After 2 years here, I have experienced several such instances of support and collaboration from the Professors, peers and upper year students.

Can you talk about your extra-curricular activities at Western? Why would you encourage students to get involved in extra-curricular activities at Western Engineering?

In my first year I joined the Electrical team at Western Engineering Mars Rover team, at the time I had absolutely no idea about anything that was going on with the design! Yet I attended almost every meeting because it was quite fun hanging out with upper years and friends while learning cool skills that’s required to build a rover. By the second term of first year, I was able to design my first custom board and a year later I was appointed president of the club! I’ve learnt so many real-world engineering skills through the club and have gotten to meet numerous students across several disciplines.

I strongly believe all first years must be involved in some design club or other, in your first year you may not be able to contribute a lot to the project, but you would learn several incredibly valuable skills that would help you become an important member in later years and also land awesome co-op positions and jobs!

How do you manage school-related stress?

Something that I find extremely helpful and is not very popular with people in engineering is getting regular exercise! The effects of exercise are definitely underestimated, especially due to the fact that we have 7 or more courses a semester and it would seem like there just isn’t time to spend considerable amounts of time on anything other than schoolwork. But the tradeoffs to devoting a small portion of your time to take your mind off academics and engaging in physical activity is quite positive. Over time, with better health and physical endurance, the effects start to show in your study habits and attention span. Making you a much more efficient and happier student, thus the situations that lead to stress are significantly reduced and you are also left with more energy and motivation to tackle other stressful situations (there’s always going to be several stress factors in engineering, there’s no way around it!).

What is your favourite quote?

haec immatura a me iam frustra leguntur oɣ - Galileo Galilei