Charging ahead with summer co‑op

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Charging ahead with summer co‑op

Posted by Allison Auld on April 14, 2020
Jack deGooyer, Engineering co-op student
Jack deGooyer, Engineering co-op student

 

Jack deGooyer was more than enthusiastic to learn he’d be spending the summer in California, and even more excited that he’d be going there to work for Tesla at their Palo Alto headquarters for his third and final co-op work term. Getting to this point had been the culmination of “months and years of planning and work” for the fourth year electrical engineering student, who describes the opportunity as his “dream co-op job”. 

He recalls how he received the job offer towards the end of February after completing all stages of Tesla’s hiring process; his background check was complete, his visa in progress, and he was in the process of signing a house lease in the golden state when the pandemic began to impact North America.

“I was incredibly elated for weeks, and then things got incredibly stressful and scary. I really didn’t have a back-up plan.”

Jack describes the uncertainty he began to feel about his impending work term, saying, “When the borders started to close, I feared it would all be for nothing.” As announcements around classes being suspended were announced, he reached out to other students he knew who were working for Tesla that winter, and the updates were grim and only served to heighten his concerns. All were in the process of flying back home to Canada to finish their work terms remotely, at the direction of their universities with the support of Tesla.

“Here I was expecting to fly out to go work, and then I found out everyone was flying back.”

Turning negatives into positives

Jack’s not the only other Dal student who will be working for Tesla this summer. He joins chemistry student Jamie Stark, who also expected to spend her summer in California. While prestigious and competitive, Dalhousie students working for Tesla isn’t entirely uncommon, given the university’s affiliation with the electric vehicle and clean energy company.

Thankfully, both students soon heard from Tesla HR representatives who eased their concerns. With lots of details still to be sorted, the organization confirmed they’ll be ensuring all necessary equipment will be made available to them ahead of their official start dates. Training and orientation will all be done online, while Tesla works to ensure their productivity expectations are met while also respecting public health directives. Should physical distancing and travel restrictions ease at any point over the coming months, both students will likely have options, including working from Tesla’s research and development centre located in Dartmouth.

Jack credits his previous co-op experience working with Dr. Jeff Dahn's (NSERC/Tesla Canada Industrial Research Chair) Research Group with helping him land this summer job. It was working at this lab where he had his first introduction to batteries; how to work with them, build them, and analyze their associated data.

As he wraps-up his academic year in isolation, physically distanced from his peers and professors, he’s looking forward to beginning his work term this May, where he’ll be working on battery research and testing from his home office in Halifax — a distinct contrast from his original plans but proof that innovative solutions are a possibility even in the face of extreme challenges.