Engineering co-op student is setting his sights on a career in space

    Co-op student's work experience is out of this world

    By Olga Ivanova on December 23, 2016

    (Edmonton) He just completed an eight-month engineering co-op placement working at the German Aerospace Centre in Cologne, Germany. So it comes as no surprise that materials engineering student Max King is setting his sights on the stars.

    “I want to work for NASA, that’s why I’m in engineering,” said King. This might soon become a reality, as he learned a lot from the NASA researcher he shared an office with.

    “This job definitely brings me closer to working with NASA,” he said of his placement in Germany and his first real-life encounter with aeronautics industry.

    “I absolutely loved my placement. The best part was being able to work at such an amazing facility, surrounded by people planning rocket launches, and working adjacent to the Astronaut Training Centre. Having lunch at a table with the current generation of astronauts is hard to top,” added King.

    The group King joined in May was researching materials physics in zero gravity. More specifically, King and his fellow researchers were using electromagnetic levitation to characterize properties of liquid metals and describe their solidification process. The project goal was simple: make stronger, lighter materials with better electrical properties. This will not only help streamline the construction of satellites and spacecraft, but also be useful to the automotive and energy sectors.

    The research King undertook was part of the job he got through the Faculty of Engineering Co-operative education program, which provides undergraduate engineering students with hands-on paid engineering work experience in Canada and overseas. Unlike the traditional four-year engineering program, students in the co-op stream have five years to complete a degree, as they gain 20 months of full-time work experience. 

    “I wanted to do the co-op option, it was a big reason to pick engineering,” said King.

    His explorations went beyond studying materials physics in space: along with running experiments, he was taking German language lessons and travelled to the UK, Spain, the Netherlands, and all around Germany. 

    “I’ve been given an opportunity to attend conferences, academic and engineering,” said King of his experiences as a co-op student in Cologne.

    Since the start of his engineering education in 2012, King has had three different co-op jobs: road construction in Fort McMurray, pipeline design with ATCO Gas in Edmonton, and now space research in Germany. The diversity of his placements allowed King to master multiple technical and soft skills.