Steeled for Success: Co-op Experience Provides Career Direction

July 19, 2010

The harsh industrial surroundings of a steel mill is a work environment few university graduates plan for as a career. Yet, through a close working relationship between the McMaster-Mohawk Bachelor of Technology program (BTech) and steel producer ArcelorMittal Dofasco, students like Stephen Melnyk are experiencing the workplace firsthand.

Stephen, who is completing his final year in BTech’s process automation stream, has had two co-op placements with ArcelorMittal Dofasco during the four-year program, and has since decided he would like to pursue a career with the corporation.

"Having the opportunity with these co-ops I feel that when I am finished with school I am wholly ready to move into the workplace," says Stephen. "They also have helped me decide where I want to go with my career path."

With the heavy choice of where he wants to be after school is out of the way, Stephen is now able to concentrate on where this career choice may take him.

"I am hoping to continue working at Dofasco," confirms Stephen. "With that workplace, coupled with the broad range of skills I received during my time in the program, there will be a lot of opportunities to move up and around within the company."

The program has also played a huge part in getting Stephen to the point where he is today.

"The amount of training necessary when starting at Dofasco was minimal, since I was able to adapt the skills I learned through the course," says Stephen. "The constructs I worked with at my co-op placement were easy enough to grasp that within a week I was off and running with them."

ArcelorMittal Dofasco has had a close relationship with the process automation program since its inception.  Professor Ishwar Singh, associate director of four-year BTech Programs has stated how great it is to have the corporation's support.

"ArcelorMittal Dofasco has been a great supporter of the BTech program," says Singh. "They have been providing co-op jobs and supporting one of their employees to serve on the BTech advisory committee as well as providing financial support when the program was first launched."

Stephen Melnyk


Knowledge of  BTech’s process automation program reached Stephen via word of mouth.

"I was told about this course by a friend," recalls Stephen. "At that time I didn't know what field to get into, I knew I wanted to get into engineering but was looking to cover a broader range of skill sets and this program was exactly that."

At first hesitant and overwhelmed by the scope of process automation, he has grown to be completely grateful for the program and the opportunities it has opened up to him.

"When we started out there was such a wide range of topics and skills we were learning, from electronics to chemical engineering,” remembers Stephen.  “It was hard to see them coming together at the beginning but, of course, everything was related and came together. Because of that aspect, I can now look at any part of a system and know what to do whereas other people are a lot more specialized."

In addition to process automation, the four-year BTech program, which is geared to students graduating from high school, offers streams in Automotive and Vehicle Technology and Biotechnology.  A degree-completion program is also offered to working technologists and internationally trained professionals looking for a university degree.

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