Preparing for a Professional Experience Year… in Spain!

A shot of Raphael in the Sicilian countryside.
Raphael in the Sicilian countryside.

It was two summers ago when visiting my family in Europe that I first got the travel bug. At the time, I had just finished my first year of Engineering Science and dreamed of working in Europe for a summer. The prospect of learning a new language, being immersed in another culture, and having the freedom to travel to many fascinating places has always excited me.

When it came time to decide if I was going to do a Professional Experience Year (PEY) term in third year, I came to the conclusion that I would either find a rewarding international experience to pursue or continue on to fourth year and complete my degree. As a student of the Infrastructure Engineering program, there were great opportunities to work in different countries and I applied to jobs in the both the United States and Europe.

Last December, I was hired to complete a 12-month work term in Alicante, Spain starting in September 2009. I’ll be working with a local Spanish engineering firm called CYPE Ingenieros, S.A.. My main focus will be on the expansion of a CAD software that can automatically verify if the designs for a structure meet the building code in the country where it will be constructed. I’ll be succeeding another Engineering Science Infrastructure student, Geoff Frost (0T9+PEY), who has worked at CYPE since September 2008. While I can’t share my PEY experiences yet, you can follow me on my journey by visiting my blog at

Raphael receiving his first place prize at the Canadian Engineering Competitions in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
Raphael receiving his first place prize at the Canadian Engineering Competitions in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

In addition to finding work abroad, I was able to fulfill my appetite for travelling during the school year as well. This past winter, I competed in the University of Toronto Engineering Kompetitions (UTEK) and won first place in the Engineering Communication division for my presentation on emerging applications of RFID technology. This led me to compete in the Ontario Engineering Competitions (OEC) in Guelph where I won second place and qualified for the national level of competitions. At the Canadian Engineering Competitions (CEC), held in Fredericton, New Brunswick, I built upon all the feedback received from the earlier competitions and won first place along with a sponsorship to attend the first National Engineering Summit in Montreal held last May.

Currently, I am working with Professor Evan Bentz as a summer research student. My main projects have been related to the development of Augustus, a software suite that acts as a post-processor for the Finite Element Method (FEM) analysis of structural elements. Augustus has recently been expanded to allow easy modelling and simulation of entire structures.