Waterloo co-op students share their unique experiences in realm of manufacturing

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

By: Namish Modi

Ever wonder what it'd be like working for a manufacturing company? It may be different than what you think! Waterloo co-op students; Tiana Krsmanovic and Hannah Rivers tell us about their co-op experience at ATS Automation Tooling Systems Ltd.

Hannah Rivers

Hannah Rivers headshot“It’s such an interesting environment to me, that I keep coming back,” says Rivers, a fourth-year Systems Designs Engineering student who worked in engineering systems support at ATS Automation this past winter.

Previously, Rivers worked for Kruger Products on a work term, and as an assembly line worker as part of a non-co-op experience. She says working for a manufacturing organization gives students an opportunity to understand how “things are kind of made in this world.”

“Each of my co-op terms or work terms in manufacturing has allowed me a little bit more insight into what the world of manufacturing is like,” Rivers said.

At ATS Automation, Rivers worked in the IT department, supporting incoming support ticket requests to help mechanical designers with any software problems. Prioritization was a key skill that Rivers developed in the role.

“I also learned a little bit about mechanical design when I was working with some of the designers there,” Rivers adds.

Rivers is a proponent of gaining a variety of experiences during co-op terms and recommends manufacturing organizations as an area with lots of opportunities for students.

“My role at ATS has given me lots of insight into what I want to do in terms of my career and what I want to do when I graduate. Every co-op (term) for me is a new opportunity to learn what I like and what I don’t like. With ATS, I got a little bit of both. I learned that I really like the design aspect, in terms of manufacturing, rather than the IT aspect.”

- Hannah Rivers, fourth-year Systems Designs Engineering student

Tiana Krsmanovic

Tiana Krsmanovic headshotWorking in human resources at ATS Automation was an enlightening, memorable experience for Krsmanovic, a fourth-year Psychology (Science) student.

Krsmanovic, who worked at ATS Automation as a human resources coordinator during her Winter 2020 work term, says she was a bit surprised at the opportunity. Previously, she believed manufacturing roles were solely for Engineering students. Instead, during her work term at ATS Automation, she assisted with career planning modules, training, recruitment and health and safety compliance.

Being a good presenter and thinking creatively and analytically were key to her role at the organization.

Krsmanovic, whose work term transitioned to remote in March 2020, says she was happy to have some unique experiences when the position was in-person, like seeing the shop floor.

“I picked up so much on this co-op, and I worked with so many different people. That was huge, because at that point, you only have about four months of co-op experience. But even in that shorter timeframe, where it got cut shorter because of COVID, every day was so productive.”

- Tiana Krsmanovic, fourth-year Psychology student

Krsmanovic isn’t overlooking working in a manufacturing company in the future. She is currently working in project management at Gore Mutual Insurance for her fourth co-op term.