Co-op placement leads to engineering career
Brian Carpenter's Fanshawe co-op placement led to a Lakehead University degree and the promise of a career with EBA Engineering Consultants in Calgary.
When Brian Carpenter was in high school, he knew he had a strong skillset, but didn’t know what post-secondary programs he should look into.
"I have always been a hands-on learner," Brian says. "Concepts come easier to me when displayed physically through diagrams and logical thinking."
After exploring his options with a high school guidance counselor, Brian knew engineering would be a great field for him because of its focus on analyzing real world situations. He did some research into the different types of engineering careers and decided to attend Fanshawe’s Civil Engineering Technology program.
Brian was required to complete a co-op component, which was one of the reasons he was drawn to Fanshawe’s program.
"I chose co-op because it is single-handedly the most effective tool available from the program," he says. "The amount you learn and experience on a co-op term is exponential compared to the classroom. Talking about a theory or a process can never truly explain how or why it works without seeing and doing it."
Brian completed his co-op term at EBA Engineering Consultants in Calgary. "EBA introduced me to hands-on lab and field testing I studied at Fanshawe," he says. "Through my eight months at EBA, I learned more and more pertaining to the engineering field and the business aspect of how the Calgary land development process works. Everything I learned from EBA enriched my abilities as a student and an engineering technician. They are a great co-op employer and take pride in teaching students."
During his time at EBA, Brian considered completing his degree and received support from his Project Director Jeff Coffin. "Jeff told me about EBA’s Life Long Learning Scholarship program and I applied for an undergraduate scholarship," he says. "After completing an essay, questionnaire, phone interview and having endorsements from Jeff and a professional geologist, I received the good news that I was a successful applicant."
Brian is currently studying engineering at Lakehead University and after completing his degree, will head back to EBA as an engineer-in-training and will also look to complete his Professional Engineer designation in a few years.
While Brian has had a positive co-op experience, he realizes this may not be the case for others. But, he urges students to take it all in stride. "Don’t get discouraged if you don’t find a co-op you love or even like," he says. "Take it for what it is and learn from the experience."
Brian also encourages students to step outside their comfort zone and take chances with their careers.
"Never let yourself get too comfortable, with comfort comes less challenges, and less experiences that will set you ahead of the game when life starts."