Maya Rukavina-Nolsoe is a third-year student in Mechanical Engineering. She talks about her experience on an international co-op term in Germany and shares how she balances her interest in travel and her passion for robotics.
Maya's co-op journey:
Work term one: Maya worked at Terus Construction as an equipment team intern. She made technical drawings for them.
Work term two: Her next co-op was at the University of Waterloo Microfluidics Lab, where she held the position of the soft robotics R&D intern.
She helped a master’s student with his project, which focused on developing a soft-rigid hybrid hand manipulator.
Work term three: At the Technical University of Hamburg, Maya held the position of a soft robotics research assistant.
She worked on a shape memory alloy actuated soft robotic gripper.
Q and A with Maya
What inspired your interest in robotics?
“It was a complete coincidence and luck that lead me towards the direction of soft robotics. I had never heard of it before, so my co-op at the University served as a lens into this field.”
“I discovered that I was truly interested in learning more about it so I decided to apply to co-op positions in this field of robotics going forward.”
What was your most significant accomplishment during a co-op term?
“My biggest accomplishment was living in a new country during my third co-op term. I was able to create new experiences and build connections in Germany, which I am very proud of.”
“Immersing yourself in new cultures and conditions is an invaluable experience. The independence I had helped me mature and forced me to navigate situations on my own.”
Why did you want to work abroad?
“I grew up travelling a lot, which instilled this love for exploring and seeing the world. So, when I came to Waterloo, my primary goal was to have an international co-op experience.”
What were the challenges of an international co-op?
“The hardest part of an international co-op is the logistics of it. It was difficult to file for a visa while also looking for housing. It was a very stressful time for me, however, talking to my supervisor helped me a lot. They were able to connect me to past co-op students, who had a lot of knowledge and wisdom to share.”
“I also believe that it is important to have a strong support system around you that helps you deal with home sickness and other challenges.”
Do you have any advice for future students?
“It is a good idea to become friends with the other co-op students and help each other out through this process. For me, they were like a piece of home that was always with me.”
“On another note, I would recommend looking into scholarship opportunities to help you fund your international co-op term. The University has great provisions for scholarships if you are interested in applying for it.”
“My advice would be to immerse yourself into the experiences and grab any opportunities that come your way.”
What’s next for you?
“In the next three co-op terms, I want to try out diverse types of jobs. In my last few co-ops, I was doing design work, so now I see myself working in project management, quality assurance or manufacturing.”