From experience to employment: Mineral engineering student lands her dream job in Alberta’s oil patch

Lassonde Mineral Engineering student Marina Reny (Year 4 MinE) completed two internships with Imperial Oil and will graduate later this year with a job offer from the company to continue working on their Kearl Oil Sands mining operation. (Photo: Kevin Soobrian)

 

 

Every morning for a year, in the dead of winter or heat of summer, Marina Reny (Year 4 MinE) rose at 4:30 a.m., before sunrise, and prepared to board the bus that drove her through the boreal forests of northern Alberta on her way to work.

‪“Some mornings I would wake up to the northern lights, or drive past bears and moose on the way to the site.  Other days I would pass by flocks of migrating geese or sandhill cranes,” she recalls.

‪‪Reny spent her Professional Experience Year (PEY) 70 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, Alta. on a placement at Imperial Oil’s Kearl Oil Sands project — a location so remote that employees had to be flown in and out for work cycles lasting 10 days at a time. But coming from a relatively small town in B.C., the isolation appealed to Reny — it was part of what attracted her to the field of mining in the first place.

According to a recent report from the Mining Industry Human Resources Council, women make up 17 per cent of workers in the mining industry. At U of T Engineering women represent 27 per cent of current undergraduate enrolment in the Lassonde Mineral Engineering program, up 6 per cent over the previous year.

“After my first year in Engineering Science, I wanted to pursue other options. I did some background research, and I really liked the dynamism and remoteness of mining, as well as its geological aspects,” explains Reny. “Ever since then, I’ve been really happy and I haven’t looked back.”

Over the course of her studies in the program, Reny completed two internships with Imperial Oil, and will be returning to work with them in August after receiving a full-time job offer at the completion of her last placement.

“I was there for 12 months and then I came back again for another four months, so I actually had a chance to establish meaningful relationships,” says Reny. “In a four-month placement, it’s a little bit hard to make those deeper connections.”

During her PEY placement — a 12- to 16-month paid internship that embeds students within companies around the world to gain industry experience — Reny worked with the project’s Mine Operations team. Her position was focused on maximizing operating efficiency, which exposed her to all aspects of a large-scale mining operation.

While on-site, Reny was a regular member of the team and spent her 12-hour shifts speaking with operators, analyzing dispatch data, looking for inefficiencies and communicating her findings back to management.

“A lot of the inefficiencies were human factors, like breaks and shift changes,” she explains. Reny watched how various crews ran their shifts, and the most efficient practices she identified became standards. “Human factors are the ‘low-hanging fruit’ where you can really make gains with relatively minor changes,” she says.

Marina Reny stands next to one of the mining haul trucks used at the Kearl Oil Sands mine to transport oil. (Photo: Marina Reny)

 

After wrapping up her PEY internship, Reny completed one more semester of classes before returning to Imperial Oil for a summer internship. This time, she worked with their project development group in the Calgary head office. “It was such a great experience — having come from the actual mine, I got to see a whole other side of things. I got to see all their projects that they’re exploring for the next 10–20 years.”

At the end of her internship, Reny was offered a full-time position at Imperial’s head office in Calgary. She’ll be joining the Engineering department, where she’ll get to work on broader planning for the mine.

“Working in the mining industry, I realized that there’s actually a lot of opportunity for growth — especially technologically and in terms of sustainability,” Reny says. “I think the next couple of decades will be very interesting and I’m excited to be part of it.”

U of T Engineering students receive record number of 2017 Cressy Awards

Cressy Award winners from U of T Engineering met with departmental chairs, Gordon Cressy and Dean Cristina Amon for a pre-ceremony reception. (Photo: Kevin Soobrian)

 

 

 

 

Each year, the Cressy Awards are presented to graduating students who have made outstanding extracurricular contributions to their college, faculty or school, or to the university as a whole. This year’s U of T Engineering winners joined 191 other students from across the University of Toronto who were honoured for their leadership and commitment to improving the world around them over the course of their degrees.

The awards are named after former U of T Vice-President of Development and University Relations, Gordon Cressy, for his commitment to higher education, and leadership in fundraising and community service. Since their inception, over 3,000 students have received the award.

The 2017 U of T CECA/NECA Team Seeks to Best their 2016 Top Three Finalist Honours

The University of Toronto student chapter of the Canadian/National Electrical Contractors Association (CECA/NECA) is preparing to once again compete in the annual ELECTI International’s Green Energy Challenge where last year they were one of three finalists and the only Canadian university participating in the final round in Boston. This year they are hoping to walk away with top honours.

The team, with winning ambitions, have identified the Waterfront Neighbourhood Community Centre located at Bathurst Street and Queens Quay to benefit from their green energy retrofit proposal. Partnering with the non-profit organization, which offers seniors services, youth leadership development opportunities and other community programming, the U of T CECA/NECA student chapter is hoping to bolster the Centre’s mission to create a safe and supportive environment for people of all ages in a green way.

“We have completed an in-depth energy audit of the Centre, analyzing lights, plug loads and many other energy consumption items,” said Mackenzie de Carle (CIV 1T7 + PEY). “Beyond a physical analysis, we have also surveyed and interviewed the staff and participants to understand how the building is being used. We want to ensure our proposal is comprehensive and will delivery the best green results for everyone.”

Reaching outside the Centre’s walls, the students teamed up with the After 4 Program teaching school-age children about sustainable buildings through experiments and designing their own green buildings. On Earth Day, the team took part in the Centre’s event providing public education on electricity bills and grants, as well as energy conservation and reduction strategies.

This year’s 2017 Green Energy Challenge will take place in Seattle from October 7th to 10th. The U of T team members include: Mackenzie de Carle (CIV 1T7 + PEY), Samson Tran (CIV 1T8), Zhenglin Liu (Mech 1T9), Sneha Adihiari (CIV 1T8), Nataliya Pekar (CIV 1T7 + PEY), Patrick Minardi (CIV 1T7 + PEY), Gordon Wong (CIV 1T8), Jonathan Shing (Mech 1T7), Rashad Brugmann (CIV 1T9) , Greg Peniuk (Eng Sci 1T6 + PEY), and Andy Ming (CIV 1T9).

The team thanks the ongoing supervision from Professor Brenda McCabe and the support of their sponsors: CECA, Alltrade, Graybar, Greater Toronto Electrical Contractors Association, Black & McDonald, and City of Toronto.

Engineering Student Summer Work Opportunity

The Property Management Group within U of T Facilities & Services is looking for a Coordinator, Property Management to join their team during this summer term. The student will gain practical skills and experience in various aspects of property management. The position will be full-time for 4 months.

Here is the link to the posting: http://vpuo.utoronto.ca/university-operations-hr-divisional-office/uopep/  The posting is set to close on Sunday, April 23, 2017 at 11:59pm.