Student Spotlight: Mathematics Co‑op student Brenda Le @ General Dynamics

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Student Spotlight: Mathematics Co‑op student Brenda Le @ General Dynamics

Posted by Allison Auld on July 31, 2019 in Employer news, Student news
Mathematics Co-op student Brenda Le
Mathematics Co-op student Brenda Le

“Before my co-op experience, I could never have imagined how a math student could work in an engineering environment.” 

When she first saw the job posting for a Systems Engineer co-op role at defence electronics firm General Dynamics Mission Systems, Mathematics co-op student Brenda Le wasn’t sure she saw the fit. After all, the employer was looking for an engineering or computer science student, not someone studying math. 

Luckily, she decided to go for it, and Brenda’s application proved attractive to the organization, who knew they could benefit from the type of analytical mindset that Brenda brought to the table. 

Working on the exciting Maritime Helicopter Project — the organization’s 15-year project that’s equipping the Canadian military’s newest helicopters with onboard mission systems and support services — Brenda says her background is bringing new, fresh and interesting perspectives to her department. 

“As a young, female student in a Mathematics degree instead of the common Engineering/Software degree [typically employed in her department], I learn a lot from others but they also learn a lot from me. I get to showcase the perspective of someone who isn’t in engineering, and the advantages a mathematics brain can bring to the table. I also get to see what engineers typically do in their jobs.” 

Brenda’s outgoing nature has also helped her to foster relationships in the workplace and build new connections with her colleagues.  

“A lot of us are working on computers or technology devices, leaving minimal face-to-face interaction. So when given the opportunity during breaks or team recreation activities, I get to use my interpersonal skills help create greater connections and maybe get some out of their comfort zones!"

In a historically male-dominated field, Brenda shares that she’s proud to be one of just a small number of females in her department, particularly given the increased attention and focus to encourage young girls and women to consider careers in STEM.  

From her employer’s perspective, working with students is beneficial to everyone. 

“Having younger people come in really helps us. It’s good to have young and inquiring minds work with us. It’s a two-way street — we learn from them as much as they learn from us,” says Jonathan Hughes, Training Devices Lead & Engineering Manager.

Barely halfway through her first work term with the company, Brenda has already been hired for her second work term with General Dynamics, which she’ll begin this September. This time. she’ll get to try her hand working within a different area of scope, further developing her skills in data analytics and working to help interpret trends. Brenda couldn’t be more excited to continue her work contributing to the Maritime Helicopter Project. 

“Data analytics is something I have always done in school but have yet to apply in a real world scenario. I’ll get to work with trends … and on technical problems. I’m personally interested to see what issues may arise in a project this big." 

Learn more about the Math & Stats Co-op program, or how to hire a Dal Co-op student.