Vanessa Ng and Mohammad Mohammad — students at Westmount Secondary School in Hamilton, Ontario — saw manufacturing technology in action and learned from leading manufacturers at the Bright Minds Student Summit, held in late September at SME’s CMTS event at the Toronto Congress Centre, Toronto.
SME Bright Minds Student Summits showcase the high-tech nature of modern manufacturing and promote the industry as an exciting, growing and lucrative career path to high school students and educators.
“It was a little mind-blowing to see how much was there,” said Mohammad, a 16-year-old senior. “They were showing some cutting-edge stuff that’s used to power emerging technologies, and that was really cool to see.”
“All in one building, you can go from someone who designs an engineering system to a company that uses that system in their robotics,” added Ng, a 15-year-old junior. “It really heightens the perspective to find all the sectors of engineering together.”
Ng and Mohammad are co-leaders, along with a third student, of the Westmount EV Race Team, a single-seater racing club that recently competed at the University of Waterloo’s Electric Vehicle Challenge — the Ontario version of Electrathon America. Jonas Sykula, a manufacturing technology teacher at Westmount, advises the team.
As team leaders, Mohammad handles physical fabrication, while Ng focuses on design, communications and organizational leadership. Founded at the beginning of the 2022-23 school year, the team evolved from Westmount’s 3D Design Club, which Mohammad joined as a ninth-grader.
“We wanted to expand our scope and bring our designs to life,” said Mohammad. “Something I find really cool is how you can have a model on your screen, and with hours of work you can have a physical metal part in front of you.”
According to Ng, the race team is focused on capturing the innovative spirit of applying advanced academics. “A student might come to us hoping to be a driver, and they mention how they always wanted to try 3D design themselves. We are trying to help them learn.”
Both Ng and Mohammad are planning to continue their education after graduating from Westmount. Ng has her sights set on studying integrated engineering at the University of British Columbia or engineering sciences at the University of Toronto. “They're unique programs that will allow me to study all disciplines of engineering, and tailor my knowledge into the sectors I’m really interested in,” she said.
As for Mohammad, he’d like to enter a mechatronics engineering program at either the University of Waterloo or McMaster University. “The engineering culture at both those schools is very strong, they both have good co-op programs, and they both have Formula race teams, with student-built Formula cars — something I’d definitely take part in.”
Wherever their career pathways take them, Mohammad and Ng agree that the Bright Minds Student Summit was an eye-opening experience. “It really put into perspective the breadth of our racing team’s work so far,” said Ng. “Fundamentally we’re after the same sort of innovation and drive as the manufacturers we saw at CMTS, but they’re the inspiration to us — they’re a sign of possibility.”“I knew there were really large CNC machines, but when you see them, that’s when it hits you — the cutting-edge technology we use in manufacturing every day,” said Mohammad. “It really confirmed what I wanted to do in the future, and what I wanted to be a part of.”