Alumnus sparks innovation in automation
Western Engineering News | May 21, 2020
Combining his mechanical engineering background with his business savvy, Western Engineering alumnus Andrew Perkins, BESc’09, currently works as the Manager of the Sales and Marketing department at BOS Innovations, a local leader in advanced automation.
Perkins has been instrumental in Western’s partnership with BOS, which is a proud sponsor of Western Engineering Outreach initiatives including the annual FIRST Robotics competition.
We spoke with Perkins to cover everything from where his interest in automation started, hear some of his fondest student memories, and learn more about the partnership between BOS and Western Engineering.
Can you discuss your role at BOS Innovations?
Within the sales and marketing department is a team of applications sales engineers. This team is responsible for generating and pricing conceptual automation solutions to complete quotation packages for presentation to customers – ultimately, to win business for BOS. We strive to develop a new business pipeline that fits our strategic and operational goals.
I am a member of BOS’ senior leadership team and participate in our strategic planning initiatives, which helps guide my management efforts for the 10 direct reports within my department.
What sparked your interest in engineering?
I love to learn, and the mechanics of how things work has always been interesting to me. I also loved cars growing up and spent 15 years racing stock cars (ages 10-25), including while I completed my undergraduate degree at Western in Mechanical and Materials Engineering (2005-2009).
Automotive engineering became my target towards the end of high school, but I was not certain and made the decision to take a 5th year. This allowed me to complete a co-op placement in cancer research at the London Health Sciences Centre while I was in the process of applying for engineering programs at various schools. It was this experience, in a very different field, that drove my decision to delay my choice of specialization and go to Western with its general first-year program.
How has your engineering education benefitted your career success?
When I was considering engineering, one comment I heard from many stands out as quite true in hindsight – choosing engineering will not close any doors. Engineers are trained problem solvers. Problem solving is a transferrable skill that will always be needed.
Today’s COVID-19 reality makes the need for trained problem solvers even more obvious. The mindset of an engineer is “I can figure it out” when facing a new challenge or constraints. Right now, this means figuring out how to manage a team effectively that has transitioned to working remotely to stay safe.
In my management role, I apply my engineering training every day. Sometimes the problems are technical. If the problem is too big, break it down into smaller pieces and chip away.
Why has BOS sponsored FIRST Robotics at Western?
Aside from the obvious robotics fit, supporting FIRST Robotics aligns with our purpose as a company:
BOS will be an engine for developing young people into inspired professionals of character and competence to benefit themselves as individuals, each other in our innovative workplace, and our society.
It might be worded differently, but this is what the FIRST organization is trying to do with STEM. The future of the world is depending on the innovation that will come out of STEM fields. Never has that seemed truer than right now with these unprecedented COVID-19 circumstances.
The combination of FIRST Robotics at Western just makes a whole lot of sense, and it has been a lot of fun for everyone who has gotten involved either mentoring teams or volunteering at the event. Walking into Thompson arena on competition weekend to see and hear high school students being cheered and celebrated for intellectual strength is just awesome.
Can you share a couple of memories from your time as a student at Western?
- Red brick rentals and walks to campus and exams. Western was and still is a beautiful campus.
- Realizing that showing up to class was no longer enough and actually having to learn how to study. I will always remember my go-to spot in the law library across the street from Spencer Engineering Building (SEB).
- Engineering Orientation Week for first-year students, including being on the last Gear team (which became the UES volunteers) in 2006 and building the Car-BQ.
- Not making it down the hill in Winnipeg at the Western Engineering Toboggan Team (WETT) concrete toboggan competition in 2007.
- Putting my iron ring on in 2009.
Do you have any advice for students considering a career in engineering?
I do not think you can go wrong choosing engineering. It is a path to a rewarding career in just about any field imaginable, as an engineer or otherwise.
BOS Innovations is doing their part to help combat the spread of COVID-19 using 3D printers to print face shields. To learn more, visit https://lnkd.in/gTRutiT.