Grad hired thanks to 3D design experience with R&I

Anusha Qureshi is a 2020 graduate of Niagara College’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program and was a mechanical research assistant for Research & Innovation’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC) for eight months in 2018. Anusha is employed as a technical specialist for Tetra Tech Inc., working as contractor with Ontario Power Generation.

Tell us about where you work:

I was hired by Tetra Tech Inc., an international consulting and engineering firm, as a technical specialist. Tetra Tech provides engineering solutions to clients working on water, environment, infrastructure, resource management, energy, and international development.

Through Tetra Tech, I have been working since August 2020 as a full-time contractor-draftsperson at Ontario Power Generation (OPG) in Bowmanville, Ont. OPG is one of the world’s largest power production companies in North America, and works with hydro, nuclear, biomass, gas and solar as generating sources.

Describe your role and what you like about it:

My job is to draft and modify mechanical/civil engineering drawings using 2D design software. I draft fabrication and construction drawings for Darlington Nuclear plant refurbishment, maintenance and training purposes. The refurbishment drafting includes drawings for concrete, steelwork, fire plan drawings and roadways.

I really enjoy working for a company that is providing for the country every day in the form of electricity and environmental safety. It is a great feeling. When I was in college, I recognized I was a good CAD designer, and I also seemed to enjoy doing it throughout my program. It makes me grateful to think that I have landed a job for something I enjoy doing. I am so grateful for the amazing professors at Niagara College who taught us the software so well that it has become a full-time job that I enjoy doing.

How has your experience with Research & Innovation helped prepare you for your current role?

It is safe to say that my experience at R&I helped me get this job. I am saying this because I got into OPG as a co-op student initially, and I was told on my first day by one of the supervisors that the reason my resume stood out was my experience with 3D design technologies at my previous co-op at Research & Innovation. R&I provided me with the opportunity to put my hands on new technologies such as 3D printers, 3D scanners and laser cutters at an early stage of my program — not only technologies, but at R&I, I developed my project management, writing, presentation, and speaking skills.

A memorable applied research project during your time at R&I?

I had the opportunity to work with OKE Polymer Systems at R&I. The project was to design an aid using their polymer-based material that would help immobile and bed-ridden patients. More than a project, it was an incredible opportunity to work for a good cause. Working on this project was an all-encompassing experience as I worked on so many skills. I worked on my 3D CAD-designing skills, where I learned about mold design function in CAD and became familiar with mold designing in general.

I was also introduced to 3D polyjet printing and print iterations. We did endless trials and errors, where I enhanced my troubleshooting skills and bit by bit improved 3D printing every time I used it to design a different model. At the end of the project, I made a detailed final report, where I demonstrated the report-writing skills I learned in college and also learned new aspects of report writing. I was able to challenge myself throughout this project with so many new skills.

What led you to Niagara College in the first place?

My brother went to Niagara College and took the same program as I did, so I followed in his footsteps. When my brother was a student at NC, and I was in Pakistan, he introduced me to Niagara College. He would also talk about his projects and co-ops and how the professors, career advisors and international advisors had helped him. It was a depiction of how international student-friendly NC is and how innovative the programs are designed.

“I got into OPG as a co-op student initially, and I was told on my first day by one of the supervisors that the reason my resume stood out was my experience with 3D design technologies at my previous co-op at Research & Innovation.”

Most memorable experience at NC?

I had the opportunity to go on the ‘Be World Ready’ trip to Germany with some students and professors from NC’s School of Technology. We were able to visit the factories of Porsche, BMW, and Volkswagen. Wow, I can never put it into words how incredible the trip was. It was amazing to learn how people from similar professions are operating in a different part of the world. With lots of learning, we had endless fun. I would highly recommend current students to take part in at least one Be World Ready trip.

A faculty member who influenced you?

Well, it would be extremely difficult to pick one. I am so grateful for all the professors I had during my program. I have heard horrible stories about professors from friends who went to other colleges or universities before me. I was lucky because I was taught by amazing professors all along.

The most amount of time I have spent in classes were with professor Neil Walker [Mechanical Engineering Technology] and professor Aaron Shatkosky [Mechanical Engineering Technology] because they taught us in almost every semester. I do not remember going to Aaron with a question and coming back without an answer. He was always there to help during class or after. His lectures included a lot of learning, a little bit of humour and delicious cookies.

There were no bad questions in Neil’s class because Neil would answer everything with such expertise that it would reflect his experience. The way Neil addresses every student’s concern in such a huge class is commendable. I was influenced by Neil’s dedication and teaching skills throughout the program. He nailed each and every subject he taught (and they were not easy). He has just figured out the art of teaching.

A mentor at R&I?

It was a pleasure to work with everyone at R&I. I mostly worked with my project lead, Gordon Maretzki [now centre manager, WAMIC]. He was a great mentor to me during my co-op at R&I. Even though it was my first-ever job in the field of engineering, he gave me full responsibility for the projects and kept me challenged throughout. He made it very clear that he trusts every student, which made me strive for solutions without fear of messing up. In one of our final project reports, he wrote a paragraph to recognize my work on the project, which today still encourages me every time I read it.

What advice would you impart to current research students or future alumni?

To future alumni, I would like to say: Do not be afraid of trying out new things. Be experimental with co-ops and new interests. Try everything, and, in the end, you might find what you enjoy doing the most. College is the best place to make mistakes and to learn from them.

To current research students: There are endless opportunities and learning at Research & Innovation. Between projects, try to interact and explore new technologies that they have to offer.

Proudest achievement since graduating?

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, our last semester was completed online. It was new and challenging for all the students and professors. Therefore, I was proud to complete my semester with desirable grades. I worked really hard on the job search and finally got hired during a pandemic.

Interests outside of work?

Now that I have graduated, I have some free time after work, in which I have started to invest in learning some music. I recently started to learn to play the guitar.

If you could have a billboard message seen by many, what would it say?

Never associate happiness with the destination. Be happy and enjoy the journey. The destination would itself become desirable.

Anything else you want to say?

Any guitarist reading this? I would love some free lessons! 😀

Learn more about Anusha: