Meet Olivia Uildersma, a Mechanical Engineering Technology – Design & Analysis student at Conestoga College Conestoga Research, Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Olivia made a big difference in helping SMEs grow through Research & Innovation across southern Ontario.
Why did you apply to work in Applied Research at your school?
What first really peaked my attention was the idea of getting to work in a small team and being directly hands-on with the project. As well as the opportunity to have the freedom to explore ideas and potential solutions and lots of active problem solving independently.
What is the best thing about working hands-on in applied research?
The best part is getting to collaborate with the industry partners and helping them take something that started as just a simple idea or abstract concept in their heads and working with them to develop and expand that idea. The whole process is an amazing and gratifying experience to be a part of.
What is the most surprising thing you learnt while working with your industry partner?
During my first co-op term with a SONAMI project, the most surprising thing to me was just how much trust the industry partners had in myself and my team to help make their ideas a
reality. That really showed me the impact that we can have even as we’re still learning, and it just increased my motivation to do my very best to make their dreams a reality.
Would you recommend SONAMI for small and medium business entrepreneurs? Why?
I would absolutely recommend working with SONAMI. Some businesses have fantastic and innovative ideas, but they just don’t have the specific background knowledge, education, and/or resources to make those ideas a reality. Working with SONAMI provides these businesses with an opportunity to make their ideas into an actuality while working with institutions that are educating the future of the industry.
Anything else you want to share?
It can be a bit of an intimidating concept for students to get to work on a project that is largely driven by you and other co-op students because it sounds like the entire project rests on your shoulders, but once you start it’s really not that scary.
All the students work collaboratively together to bounce ideas off each other and problem solve, and your supervisor is there to help guide you through the process, along with having invaluable insights related to projects and the industry. It is a really awesome learning experience, and I would recommend all co-op students in similar programs think about it and give it a try – especially if you’re interested in design.