Team Power Solutions has Saskatchewan Polytechnic in its DNA

Image credit: Team Power Solutions
Image credit: Team Power Solutions

Four co-operative work term students benefit from a legacy of on-the-job learning with Sask-based electrical engineering company 

When five graduates of the Electrical Engineering Technology program at Saskatchewan Polytechnic (then SIAST) joined forces in 2009 to form Team Power Solutions, they couldn’t have known the number of co-operative work placements they would help facilitate in the years to come. This year marks 14 years for the electrical, automation and manufacturing services firm, which started with five owners and two employees and has grown to 200 employees, many of whom have been hired from Sask Polytech co-operative education work placements.  

“Sask Polytech is entrenched in our DNA,” explains Brook Davis, one of the original owners who now leads the company’s business development and marketing group. “We have hired a ton of students—often three for each co-op work term, and this time around we have four.”  

Davis is intimately familiar with the Electrical Engineering Technology program. Having graduated from it himself in 1997, the industry expert now sits on the Sask Polytech program advisory committee, which provides input on program development, curriculum and delivery. As such, he is keenly aware of the need for graduates in his field and is invested in the high level of training that the co-op program delivers to students.  

“Team Power Solutions always looks to Sask Polytech for help,” says Davis. “Hiring co-op students is a way we give back, but it’s also been a rewarding partnership over the years. Co-op education allows us to see if a student is a good fit, and for students, they’re so much further ahead after a work term or two.”  

Tyler Astleford, Team Power Solutions Saskatoon electrical supervisor, agrees. “There’s no substitute for experience,” he notes. “Co-operative education is a great way to test and add to your learning. And for us, co-op is a great way to invest early on in a student’s career and retain them as full-time employees once they’ve completed their program. Electrical engineering technologists are in demand. We have to compete to hire them.”  

Team Power Solutions currently has four Sask Polytech students in co-op placements in two programs. One business diploma student and three electrical engineering technology students are getting their first experiences of what it’s like to put their classroom learning into practice in a real-world setting.  

For the electrical engineering technology students, Ryley Fry, Shivang Gohil and Cooper Fairley, this placement is their second of three in their program and will allow them to benefit from what Davis describes as the real value of co-op. “Co-op terms give students a chance to go back and forth from the classroom to putting their learning into practice, then back to the classroom and lab, then applying their learning again out in the public or private sector. This model makes students well rounded in a way that students who attend classes alone can’t compete with.”  

Fry is working at Team Power Solutions Regina location where he is closer to his home in Southey. He agrees that the co-op terms add a lot to his program experience. “The knowledge we gain here on the job is awesome,” he says. “Our instructors are helpful and the hands-on labs at Sask Polytech are great, but we learn differently when we are actually doing the work in a job setting.”  

Astleford, who supervises Gohil and Fairley in Saskatoon, is also a former electrical engineering technology student, having graduated from the Sask Polytech program in 2012. “Cooper and Shivang came to us as somewhat blank slates,” he remembers, noting that they are young and just starting their careers. “They did a four-month work term with us last summer and are currently three months in to their second placement. The amount they’ve grown over those seven months of co-op experience is impressive.”  

Gohil, who is testing the ground fault relays, distribution panel and disconnect switch for a transformer, is enjoying the practical application of knowledge from the program. “Sometimes we learn something on the job here too, and then it’s helpful to learn the theory afterwards back at Sask Polytech, and it makes more sense because you’ve worked on an actual system. Learning about transformer systems was like that for me.” Gohil, who hails from India, chose the Electrical Engineering Technology program on advice from his cousins—one studied in the Computer Engineering Technology program. “The program is challenging but not too challenging,” he says. “The instructors are really helpful—almost 24/7 by email if we need it, and the labs and electrical courses are informative. We have everything we need to succeed.”  

“Our current co-op students have transformed into critical members of our team,” adds Astleford, “and I’m going to hate to lose them when they return to Sask Polytech. I hope to get them back in their final work term. We see students as an investment in our company’s future.”  

“Electrical engineering technology students are incredibly in demand,” explains Sask Polytech program head Babith Varghese. “Employers regularly approach us looking for graduates to hire. Often students have a job lined up before they are finished their program—and these are excellent jobs. Electrical engineering technology grads go to work in construction, manufacturing, consulting engineering, power generation, renewable energy, mining, oil and gas, design and automation—the choices they have are almost unlimited.”  

For Fairley, who entered the program after high school in Cut Knife, the benefit of co-op work terms is partly financial. “I can easily make enough to pay for my program,” he says, “and if I choose to I could probably pay for the two years at Lakehead University required to bridge my diploma to an engineering degree. That’s huge.” Fairly thinks he will likely continue working as a technician once he’s finished the program, though, as he enjoys field work. “I don’t want to sit around at a desk all my life, but I want to do something that challenges me mentally. Being an engineering technologist is a good fit.”  

Davis attended a Sask Polytech career fair in Moose Jaw last year and met business diploma student Edzabeth Ortega Teran, an international student from Venezuela. “I went to the career fair looking for students from the electrical and instrumentation engineering technology programs and had a chance meeting with Edza,” says Davis. “I’m always looking for bright people and when we met, I knew I had to find a place for her at Team Power Solutions. She’s been a fantastic fit for us, and we’re now looking at creating a rotating position in the business development area so we can accept more business diploma students for co-op placements.”  

Ortega had a background in sales, but her experience with Team Power Solutions has allowed her to expand her skills to a new area and put her business management learning into practice. “I have more than 10 years of sales experience, but the electrical and automation area is totally new for me,” explains Ortega. “Nevertheless, the company cares and gives ongoing training to learn and thrive in your position.” During her placement Ortega has worked on business recruitment and new client retention, and has contributed to the development of sales strategy, assisting with the closing of new business deals and preparing sales presentations. “It’s been such a good experience, and I can’t say enough about Team Power Solutions and the supportive and inclusive culture here,” Ortega adds.  

Team Power Solutions is expanding into digital applications and is considering computer engineering technology student placements. “We know Sask Polytech students are well trained and that it will be a win-win,” says Davis. “Co-op education helps the industry as a whole. Relevant work experience makes a huge difference to the student, but co-op education also allows us to help future-plan and replace people as they move up in their careers.”  

Visit our website for more information about Sask Polytech’s Electrical Engineering Technology program, Business diploma program or other programs with co-operative education work terms.  

Many full-time programs still have available seats for fall 2023. Find a program and apply today.

Published March 2023.