Catching Up with a Co-op Problem Award winner David Wheatle

Thursday, October 8, 2020

You submitted your Co-op Problem Award application because of an important problem you identified in your employer's industry. Can you tell us what that problem is and how you discovered it?

DW: The problem I identified was the challenge of developing affordable housing solutions that are able to accommodate an increasing population.  The problem was of a genuine interest to me, as I am from Jamaica, a nation with similar concerns that I was able to apply to a local context. My Co-Op as a development engineer at the Regional Municipality of York gave me a unique perspective in looking at the housing challenge.

What did you learn about problem analysis during your investigation of this important problem?portrait of david wheatle

DW: It was really interesting learning more about the problem while I was on my Co-Op term, as it allowed me to apply the insights that I gained from the work experience into analyzing the problem specifically to York Region. There was a lot of data gathering involved in trying to understand the problem. I was able to improve my research skills that I will eventually be able to apply as a mechanical engineer. Interestingly, I’ve recognized that in order to effectively solve any problem, the first step has to be properly taking a look at the problem itself.

Where do you see this problem going in the future?

DW: As more people migrate to urban centres for opportunity, I think governments will really have to start focusing on the housing challenge from urban planning, architectural and engineering perspectives. We’ll have to ask ourselves the questions of “how do we create the best living space for individuals?” and “How do we create the place of choice for people to live, work, raise families and do business?”

As one of the Co-op Problem Award winners, what would you want to tell someone who is interested in applying?

DW: Definitely apply. The Problem Award is a fantastic opportunity to put the skills you learn during your Co-Op to good use. It does take a lot of effort, but anything worth doing does. Even if you aren’t awarded the first time around, it really is a chance to hone your problem analysis ability, which is a useful skill for school, work and life in general.

Do you have any advice for someone in Co-op or about to start a Co-op program?

DW: Doing a Co-Op program is a unique way of getting work experience while earning your degree. Sure, it does take a bit longer to finish your education, but the skills you gain throughout the program are what employers look for. I’m  really glad that I decided to enrol in an engineering Co-Op program at Waterloo, as it really  allows me to gain work related knowledge that really complements my academic learning, and vice versa.

Now that you’ve won a Co-op Problem Award, what are you up to next?

DW: Right now it’s just getting use to studying from home, but I hope to build on the invaluable skills that I gained from my time at York Region on my next work term. The unusual circumstances that we currently face have made looking for work quite daunting, but I’m sure I will be able to gain a mechanical engineering internship and eventually use the experience that I will gain in making a positive, impactful difference in the developed and developing world.

  1. 2022 (2)
    1. March (2)
  2. 2021 (8)
  3. 2020 (17)
  4. 2019 (5)
  5. 2018 (3)