Jason Wright is a 2018 graduate of Niagara College’s Mechanical Engineering Technology (Co-op) program and was a Technical Services Research Assistant at the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre for the Research & Innovation division for one year. Jason has been employed with Burloak Technologies in Oakville as a Process Designer since November 2018.
Tell us about where you work:
Burloak Technologies is a leading partner for advanced additive manufacturing solutions. The company uses additive manufacturing with a variety of metals and plastics, and multi-axis machining to serve the aerospace, satellite communications, spaceflight, energy and high-end industrial sectors.
Describe your role and what you like about it:
As a Process Designer, it is my responsibility to get Burloak to define company processes around DfAM (design for additive manufacturing, operation of additive manufacturing equipment, and manufacturing of advanced manufacturing parts. I am creating documentation to support our processes and support traceability to our customers, and support the engineering team with any new projects that come along. Some days I am at my desk, and other days I am on the manufacturing floor either making something or helping to solve problems. My favourite part of the job is that every day is different, and everyone at Burloak shares the same passion: leading the advancement of additive manufacturing technology in Canada and across the globe.
How has your experience with Research & Innovation helped prepare you for your current role?
R&I gave me the additive manufacturing background that my company was looking for, which helped me to land this job. I also had the opportunity at R&I to speak with customers, and turn their conceptual ideas into 3D models, and eventually into printed parts. The research, design, and communication skills I learned at R&I are skills I use every day at work.
A memorable applied research project during your time at R&I?
In 2017, I worked with a company developing a product that required significant product design, and additive manufacturing for rapid prototyping purposes. The most memorable work I was a part of at R&I was working with the Fortus (3D printing) production systems (FDM Additive) and design projects. The technology is very advanced, I always looked forward to going to work at R&I to see what the Fortus had finished printing the night before.
Most memorable experience at NC?
The most memorable experiences at NC were with my friends that I met in the program. The Mechanical Engineering Technology program at NC is very demanding and very rewarding. I lived with a few of my classmates, and we became close friends. The most memorable experiences were pulling long nights and early mornings studying and completing projects with my friends. It was a huge challenge and we all supported each other.
“The research, design, and communication skills I learned at R&I are skills I use every day at work.”
A faculty member who influenced you?
All of my professors were greatly influential, and helped me to develop strong interests in the classes they taught.
Lois Johnson instilled in me a strong interest in material sciences; her classes were the most interesting to me. I plan to work towards a career in material sciences within the additive manufacturing industry.
Neil Walker has such a distinct passion for his courses and his students. He could explain the same concept a thousand different ways until everyone understood it. He really helped to connect the dots between the applicable engineering concepts and the math.
Scott Phillips really wants to exercise your mind. He might give you a problem, almost like an engineering puzzle, and give you 50 percent of the jigsaw pieces. It is your job to find the other 50 percent using any resources possible, with no hints. This was often frustrating, but I tried hard to solve those puzzles. I strongly believe his lessons contributed the most to my flexibility and problem-solving skills that I use every day now.
What advice would you impart on current research students or future alumni?
Take time to learn from your colleagues at R&I. Even if it isn’t a project you are directly working on, you can learn so much just from asking questions and being interested. This opens up the opportunity to be a part of multiple projects at once, which is both a great learning opportunity and can be a lot of fun.
After being in the workforce, what have you learned?
Entering the workforce can be intimidating and nerve-racking, but that’s where you are going to learn about your own strengths and weaknesses. It is humbling to enter a place where your knowledge is not judged on an even playing field, and it is certainly rewarding to learn new things about yourself. I quickly learned what my strengths are in terms of project management and the application of knowledge through technical writing. I also learned where I needed to improve. Keep your mind open and remember, you don’t know everything yet.
What are your interests outside of work?
I enjoy spending time outside, whether that means going for a hike, cycling, or reading a book by the lake. Working indoors all day can take a lot out of you – spend some time outside!