Image Credit: Saskatchewan Polytechnic
Image Credit: Saskatchewan Polytechnic

Engineering technologies programs offer practical career-paths that take students almost anywhere

Students with an interest in math and science often hear the advice, “You should look into engineering.” What many people who offer or receive this advice may not realize is the wealth of engineering career opportunities achievable with a polytechnic education. With an average graduate employment rate of over 93 per cent and starting salaries that average $15,000 higher than the average Saskatchewan Polytechnic graduate, engineering technologies programs offer a pathway to a satisfying career with an engineering focus achievable in as little as two to three years. 

“Engineering technology graduates are in demand,” says Kurt Soucy, program head for Sask Polytech’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program. “There are currently more job opportunities than graduates I can supply, and there’s real satisfaction in knowing that the students we teach will get hired before they even finish their program. That’s phenomenal.” 

Saskatchewan Polytechnic offers 11 engineering technology programs—ranging from environmental to civil, and from computer to mechanical. Engineering technologies are often described as the practical application arm of engineering. Taking the conceptual work of engineers, engineering technologists work in a variety of fields where they translate these ideas into real-world applications. Engineering technologists can be found in a wide range of job settings, whether doing field work, managing city water or construction projects, fine tuning instrumentation at a mine site, automating control systems at a power plant or problem-solving computer equipment at a business. 

The practical aspect of engineering technologies drew Rafael Beruski to the Civil Engineering Technologies program at the Sask Polytech, Moose Jaw Campus. Originally from Brazil, Beruski had a background in geology but was looking for further education that would give him practical skills that would lead quickly to employment. The classes were very good and strong on theory,” he says. Nothing can take away from the practical aspect, though.” Sask Polytech’s Civil Engineering Technologies program offers two areas of specialization, in water or construction. “Once I chose the water option,” says Beruski, “we started doing a lot of field work and got to see how work is actually done in the sector.” 

Kent Hyde also chose the Civil Engineering Technologies program but decided on the construction option. He had been working in construction as a tradesperson but desired a change in career that would give him more stability. “The program combined hands-on work as well as the development of office and computer skills that made me much more versatile,” says Hyde. “I’m still heavily involved in construction as a civil engineering technologist, but in the off-season there’s lots of behind the scenes work that makes for more stable employment.” Hyde now does project coordination and inspection for capital funded water and sewer projects with the City of Saskatoon’s Construction and Design division. “The program opened a diversity of options for me,” he says. “There are so many different branches within the city and other industries that need engineering technologists.” 

Another mature student, Randal Gervais had work experience in construction similar to Hyde before deciding to further his education. After upgrading a few classes, Gervais applied to Sask Polytech’s Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) program where he has just finished his last semester. Like Hyde, the opportunity for office-based rather than just onsite work was a draw, and he was happy to discover that he could complete the program at the Saskatoon campus in just two years. “The old mindset was that you have to get a degree,” he says, “but that’s not true anymore. MET teaches the practical side, not just theory. For a mature student like me, a two-year program is a good option—it’s challenging but doable.” 

The engineering technologies allow students to take their careers in a wide variety of directions. Hyde notes that out of his class of 35, most are now working in jobs quite different from each other. Madison Bremner, who completed the MET program last spring, applied on the advice of people in industry that it would be a perfect gateway to project management, a career she’s interested in pursuing. “It was the hardest two years I’ve had yet, but I learned self-discipline, better time management and made connections with classmates that I spent every day with.” In her second year in the program, Bremner applied for a position with Black and McDonald as a project coordinator after meeting with their HR manager at a Sask Polytech career fair. Fourteen days after she graduated, she started her career with the company. “Besides the fundamental skills, the knowledge I gained from my classes gets used every day. Would I recommend the program?” she asks. “If you are ambitious and ready to start an amazing career in only a couple of years then, yes, do it!”  

Instrumentation engineering technologists work in industries ranging from mining to manufacturing, oil and gas to pharmaceutical—anywhere that machines are used to automate processes. Leim Bolton-Zerebeski’s career path took him directly from high school to the Instrumentation Engineering Technology program at the Sask Polytech, Moose Jaw Campus, then straight into a job with Mosaic upon graduation. Reflecting on what drew him to the engineering technologies, he says, “I like math and problem solving, logical stuff. I’d recommend this program to anyone interested in identifying problems and finding solutions to make things work. And there are lots of job opportunities. Instrumentation is all about automation, and automation isn’t going anywhere.”  

Computers were furthest thing from recent graduate Elaine Deloyola’s mind when she was in her final year of high school. “I had no previous interest in computers!” she remembers. A visit to her high school from Sask Polytech Business Information Systems and Computer Engineering Technologies instructors opened her mind to the possibilities a technology career might hold for her. “The software side of things was less appealing to me, but the instructor from Computer Engineering Technologies brought a programmable robot for us to play with and it was so hands-on and fun. I liked the hardware aspect and was impressed with what you could do with it.” Approximately 75 per cent of the program involves hands-on work in labs, and Deloyola had multiple opportunities to complete major projects involving robots, which she says was a highlight. 

Another important aspect of her education were co-operative work terms—something common to the engineering technologies programs on Moose Jaw campus. Co-op terms give students the chance to practice their skills with employers part-way through their programs, and are an excellent opportunity to network before they begin their job search. Many students make important connections. For Deloyola, her second and third co-op terms with the Regina non-profit organization Ranch Ehrlo turned into an extended interview of sorts, and she was offered a job upon graduation. She now serves the organization as a service desk administrator and IT analyst, working with the team that runs their website, assisting with technology problems and helping to deploy devices. “I already knew the team, so it was a natural transition to working as a full-time employee once I graduated,” she says. 

For other students, the ability to ladder to a degree from an engineering technology program is a serious consideration, giving options for further career growth after earning an initial credential. Sask Polytech has agreements in place with universities across the county in a variety of engineering programs. 

If you or someone you know has an interest in math or science, has an affinity for hands-on problem solving or likes translating ideas into practical solutions, visit our engineering technology program pages on our website: 

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