Liliana McIntosh is a recent graduate of the Mechanical Engineering Technology Co-Op program at Niagara College. As a student she worked with SONAMI at Niagara College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC). Currently, Liliana works at WAMIC as a Mechanical Engineering Research Associate.
Along with Project Managers, Project Leads and Technicians, Liliana works on SONAMI funded projects for small- and medium-sized enterprises in the manufacturing industry. She and the team helped develop new products into prototypes and optimize existing processes using the most up-to-date technology tools available in the market.
We interviewed Liliana to discuss her experience working on SONAMI projects and to get to know her better:
Why did you apply to work in Applied Research at your school?
I applied to work in Applied Research at my school because I was interested in getting a better understanding of the thought process and steps involved in achieving successful results involved in Research and Development.
I started working for Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre during my high school co-op in January 2018 and loved the work and supportive environment so much that despite being offered other opportunities throughout the years, I continued to do both of my college co-ops at WAMIC as well as working there part-time to present. The projects I was presented with were a great match for me and helped me zero in the field I look forward to pursuing in my future career.
What is the best thing about working hands-on in applied research?
The best thing about working hands-on with applied research is it helped me to see any potential issues there may be with my design, as well as any areas for adjustment, improvement, or even another possible solution to achieve the desired outcome. Working hands-on with applied research allowed me to use a variety of machinery with cutting-edge technology and equipment.
What is the most surprising thing you learnt while working with your industry partner?
The most surprising thing I learnt while collaborating with my industry partner during my years at WAMIC was how they are just as involved in the development of their project as our research team. The collaboration between the client and the research centre allows for the best project results and a clear understanding of the growth taking place within their project.
While working with industry partners, I was able to effectively communicate design ideas, contribute to client/group meetings, write reports, and give presentations, all of which provided me with valuable lessons and growth both personally and in a team environment.
In your opinion, how can your school’s applied research program best help industry partners grow their businesses?
My school’s applied research program best helps industry partners grow their business by providing solutions for projects, both big and small, and in cost-effective ways that perhaps would not be available to them otherwise.
The school’s program can take ideas presented by a business, develop them through various stages using leading-edge technologies, making necessary changes and improvements to arrive at a successful solution/ product for the business. By helping provide solutions for these small businesses, they can further grow their business and improve their processes.
Would you recommend SONAMI for small and medium business entrepreneurs? Why?
I would recommend SONAMI for small and medium business entrepreneurs because the services provided for them are always above and beyond their expectations. The resources and opportunities available to small/medium businesses utilizing SONAMI are immense, diverse, and personalized. Specific project needs are met with professional, cutting-edge solutions.
Anything else you want to share?
My relationship with SONAMI and WAMIC since 2018 has been a very positive and rewarding experience. Opportunities to learn and grow personally/professionally have been abundant, and even though my working relationship with WAMIC will be ending upon graduation this spring, I am excited to continue expanding all the lessons and skills required during the last four years and apply them throughout my career in research and development.
I have a much better understanding of what to expect and how to deal with clients/customers, procedures, budgets, and time constraints, as well as the process involved in taking an idea and seeing it through to become a product or solution. SONAMI and WAMIC have made my decision to study mechanical engineering technology a very rich experience, and I am very thankful to them for that.