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This is ag: Nicole Cox enjoys the world of engineering

Nicole Cox
Nicole Cox - Contributed

BY EMMA GELDART

For some, deciding which career to pursue can be a real challenge. This wasn’t the case for Nicole Cox, a 2012 graduate of Dalhousie University Faculty of Agriculture who now works happily as an industrial engineer.

For Nicole, math and sciences were always a strong point in school. Like many high school students though, it wasn’t until grades 11 and 12 that she started seriously considering her career choice. As she learned more, Nicole realized engineering was something she would likely excel in.

“I honestly hadn’t considered engineering until talking with my parents,” Nicole explains. “They suggested I look into it. I did some research on the field and thought civil engineering would be interesting.”

Civil engineering is a discipline that focuses on physical and natural built environments, such as roads, bridges, canals, pipelines, railways and more. Civil engineers deal with the design, construction and maintenance of these features. Nicole had set her sights on pursuing civil engineering, but that changed.

“I went to an open house at Dal AC and two women in industrial engineering talked to me a bit about it,” Nicole said. “They sold me on taking this discipline instead. I would get to interact with people on a more consistent basis and it interested me more.”

Industrial engineers work to improve the performance of complex systems of people, technology and information. This includes examining workplace processes and working to eliminate waste of time, money, energy and other resources that do not generate value.

“It hinges on the concepts of removing unnecessary waste from a process, looks at continuous improvements and increased efficiencies, which all peaked my interest,” Nicole said.

She enrolled in the two-year engineering diploma program and graduated in 2012 with a diploma in engineering. After her time at Dal AC, Nicole made the decision to continue her studies at Dalhousie University in Halifax. The engineering diploma program offers students the option to complete an additional two to three years at Dalhousie’s Halifax campus, earning them a degree in engineering.

Nicole now works in Ontario as an Engineering Analyst at a third-party logistics company for Shoppers Drug Mart. She is part of the team that develops and implements labour standards and optimizes warehouse layouts.

“Dal AC is a great school with its small class sizes and attentive professors,” Nicole says. “My favourite thing would have to be the professors I had. I graduated almost six years ago, and my friends and I still laugh when we quote some infamous lines from the profs. They had an open-door policy and were always eager to help students.”

Growing up in Onslow Mountain, Nicole was drawn to Dal AC because of the proximity to her hometown. Only 10 minutes away, Nicole was able to live at home and save money while pursuing her studies. Despite living off campus, Nicole still made the most of her time at Dal AC and got involved in extracurricular activities. Nicole played on the women’s varsity basketball team for the two years she attended Dal AC, allowing her to meet new people and practise her time management skills.

“It was a huge commitment and definitely forced me to manage my time between practices, games and school. It allowed me to meet people in other programs that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise met. My favourite part was getting to play the game I enjoy with women who I grew to be very close with.”

With some practical engineering experience under her belt, Nicole is now working towards earning her Professional Engineering designation. This means that with a certain number of hours worked as an industrial engineer, Nicole is eligible to write an exam allowing her to practise professional engineering and take responsibility for her own work. She also hopes to work towards getting her Project Management designation and move back to Nova Scotia.

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