Pursuing a Bachelor of Engineering
Option: Industrial Engineering (Co-op)
“In my first week of school, I was looking around my thermodynamics class and thought, this is really where I’m meant to be.”
Gabrielle Gallant found a supportive network at Concordia, and it made all the difference.
By connecting with professors, fellow students and professionals through her internships, she discovered new career ambitions and a sense of belonging in and outside of the classroom.
What has your experience been like in Industrial Engineering?
I love my classes. In Industrial Engineering, you see everything. You study coding, mechanics, industry— you see all of it because you need to be able to work with all of it. The courses are very diverse and applied with lots of projects. It’s extremely interesting.
What’s your favourite part about being in your program?
My favourite topic is something called Operations Research. It’s about formulating systems, understanding them and putting them in mathematical terms to find the optimal solution, the best version of something you can get. It’s hard but also extremely satisfying when you can figure it out.
But my favourite thing about the program is that everyone is like a big group of friends. That’s why I’m motivated to wake up in the morning, because I know I’ll see my friends at school, and we’ll all help each other.
Why did you choose to study at Concordia?
I was told Concordia was more hands-on because we had Co-op, and I don’t regret my decision at all. I was lucky enough to meet Gina Cody. She was the first woman to get a PhD in engineering at Concordia and is so inspiring. I’m really proud to go to a school that was named after a woman.
How have your Co-op experiences been?
My Co-op experiences have been amazing. My very first internship was at Canada Post. I had hands-on continuous improvement work, which is one of the major industrial engineering fields. I was on the shop floor, doing day and night shifts, and experienced so much in that world.
In my second internship, I was at Bombardier. Co-op has this mentorship program with Bombardier called Women in Engineering – Career Launch Experience. I was so lucky to have not one but two mentors that guided me through those four months. We met once or twice a week, and they answered all my questions. It was really because of Co-op that I was allowed this mentorship and many other opportunities, like seeing planes, going to events and getting invited to a gala. I even obtained another internship with another team because of the connections I made. It really shows the importance of networking.
At the end of the mentorship, we presented to a group of high school students to talk about women in STEM. Our focus was to show girls that we were women in different types of engineering and enjoying ourselves. They were asking questions and it was a big success.
What’s your favourite part about being at Concordia?
Being in ENGCOMM. We organize a week-long international case competition. 16 teams from around the world come to Montreal for a week and compete. The family that I’ve built there, the connections that I’ve made and the things that I’ve learned about myself made it the best thing.
Do you have any advice for future students who want to get involved at Concordia?
Do it! The people you’re going to meet will help you because they were in your shoes a year or two ago. They can tell you which professors to go see or who to talk to. Everyone in engineering loves to help each other. The more people you know, the more help you’re going to get, and the more it’s going to improve your experience.
Do you have an idea of what you want to do after you graduate?
I think I want to work in the aviation industry. I really fell in love with planes when I worked at Bombardier. Since I was a kid, I always loved planes because travel is my biggest passion. At Bombardier, I was working with people who made them. You really develop a different type of appreciation for how delicate and how beautiful these things are. Planes are made by people, not machines.
But I think I want to occupy a management position later, so I might do my MBA. I think that would be my goal. I’m able to manage people, and it’s where I see myself in maybe 10 years. But in 5 years’ time, I think I’d like work that’s very hands-on, work that helps people.