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Cecelia Varrasso, BEng BioSci '18

Chemical Engineering | Fixing the Failure

In her role as Operations Engineering Associate with Celestica Aerospace and Defence, 2018 engineering graduate Cecelia Varrasso is learning from failure.

More specifically, she’s undertaking failure analysis on defective sensors, controllers and power systems built by the Toronto area electronics manufacturer, in an attempt to understand the causes and recommend corrective action.

“Every time I see a new defect, I learn something new,” she says. "I'm currently investigating a sudden drop in yield for one of our projects. It's been very interesting to use the concepts I learned in chem eng (heat transfer through materials, equipment troubleshooting, statistics and DoEs, process reliability) while looking for an overall root cause."

Her job also involves creating FMEAs for various manufacturing processes and creating or implementing rework routings for defective products that might be salvaged or fixed.

“I had no idea I'd end up working in aerospace,” says Varrasso. “But I did know that I wanted to work as a manufacturing engineer, as I had exposure to the role as an intern and enjoyed making tangible improvements to production processes.”

Varrasso, who studied Chemical and Bioengineering and served as president of the BioEngineering at McMaster Society (BEAMS) in 2015/16, says she was initially attracted to the study of biology and bioengineering.

But by the end of her degree, she found her interest had moved to chemical engineering and process control.

That shift in perspective was helped by opportunities to practice her skills and explore workplace settings, and she urges students to consider co-op experiences.

“I did two 4-month summer co-ops and a longer 15-month internship, and it really helped me decide what I wanted to do -- and what I didn't,” she says. “It also helped me to get over my tendency to procrastinate.”