Engineering grad Jennifer Peverelle is headed to a career in the U.S., thanks to her own creativity and initiative
Welding engineer in Cleveland, Ohio: it may not be a job description that appeals to everyone, but it’s music to Jennifer Peverelle’s ears.
Peverelle was working on a degree in materials engineering at UBC when she discovered a yen for welding. She had no idea this would open doors to a job in the specialized field of welding engineering.
“I’m super-excited about my job,” says Peverelle, who graduates from UBC engineering in May. “When you’re starting out, you have to ask yourself what you’re really passionate about and where you’ll realistically find a job. I want to do something that I’m excited about and where I’ll learn a lot.”
The wonders of welding
While looking at prospective fourth-year courses in UBC Materials Engineering, Peverelle came across a class on welding metallurgy. In advance of the class, she enrolled in a welding course at BCIT over the summer and became fascinated by what happens when fire meets metal.
“You have this tiny, bright puddle of fire and there is all this crazy stuff going on,” she says. “As an engineer, it’s exciting to think about the complex chemical reactions, phase transformations and temperature changes that are all happening in an area smaller than a coin.”
That fall she “went crazy” and bought her own welding equipment including a $1,700 wave-welding machine made by Lincoln Electric, one of the world’s leading producers of welding products.
“It does tungsten inert gas and stick welding,” says the North Delta, B.C. native. “Most hobby welders don’t use this type of machine.”
When it came time to find a co-op placement, Peverelle contacted Lincoln Electric, which has a large research and development department at its Cleveland headquarters. It was the first time they received an applicant from UBC and Peverelle suspects the exotic Vancouver, B.C. resumé piqued their interest.
Before the eight-month placement was over, she was offered a full-time job. This June she begins a one-year engineer trainee position, rotating through the company’s different departments to find the best fit.
Not an obvious destination for a B.C. native, Cleveland has grown on the new graduate. During her co-op year, she connected with an organization called Hands On to volunteer at food banks, plant gardens on empty lots, and clean up trash.
“That sticks with me as much as the job,” she says. “I got to see the city, the people and the issues they are dealing with.”
But from a materials engineering perspective, Cleveland – a manufacturing city – is the place to be. ASM International, the largest professional organization for materials engineers, is headquartered there.
“It’s the Rust Belt, it’s where it all started,” she says, referring to the northeastern and midwestern regions of the United States hit hard by a decline in manufacturing. As a member of the local Vancouver ASM chapter, she hopes to transfer some of the knowledge from Cleveland back to Vancouver.
In the meantime, Peverelle is excited to have found a way to combine her knowledge of physics and chemistry with a skill she enjoys.
“I was always good at academics but I thought the one weakness for me as an engineer was that I wasn’t hands-on. I never did shop in high school,” she says. “Learning to weld has been empowering for me.”