Ethan Ma

Machine Vision Engineer; Taymer International

I was born/grew up in: I was born in Luoyang, China, spent my early years in Beijing, China, and moved to Canada when I was nine years old. In Canada, I grew up in Dundas, Ontario and Mississauga, Ontario.

I now live in: I currently live in Toronto, Ontario.

I completed my training/education at: I completed a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Waterloo before deciding I wanted to pursue engineering. I went to McMaster University in Hamilton where I completed my Bachelor of Engineering degree, in Mechatronics.

Describe what you do at work.

I work on a design and production team that includes a team of engineers, electricians and machinists. We custom design and build machines that monitor cable quality during the manufacturing process (e.g. surface imperfections or size inconsistencies). Each order is unique and depends on the exact characteristics of the cable being tested. This can include such things as the colour, thickness and speed of manufacturing. We use different lighting setups and camera angles to find different defects.

Much of my day at work involves writing software so the user can communicate with the machines that identify the defects. I also design the different electrical parts and circuits for the machines. And then I build this machine using specialized equipment. My background in engineering gives me the mathematical, technical and theoretical skills to do this job. My knowledge of coding languages and experience with coding is necessary to be able to do my job. I am lucky that I am fluent in Mandarin so that I can communicate with our customers in China.

When I was a student I enjoyed:

How does your job affect people’s lives?

The machines we design can find defects in cables that are made for many different uses (e.g., ethernet cables, power cables, fibre optics and medical tubing). We help make sure that these products are of high quality. Because our machines are able to identify the problems quickly, this speeds up production and cuts down on waste.

What motivates you in your career?

Each day presents new problems to solve so no two days are the same! Designing and building completely new machines is super interesting to me. I enjoy working in a fun workplace with lots of other young people. Switching to engineering was definitely the right move for me, as it is so in line with my strengths and interests.

When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:

Describe your career path to this career.

Coming out of high school, I felt pushed into studying in the health science area. I ended up doing an Honour's Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Waterloo. I found psychology to be very interesting. After I graduated I worked in a laboratory for two years doing disease testing automation. This involved setting up samples in a machine that performed different tests on them. But I didn’t find this work challenging or fulfilling. I realized that I most enjoy solving challenging problems through building and designing. So I looked into engineering. I found that there are great job prospects with an engineering degree. I went to McMaster University in Hamilton where I completed my Bachelor of Engineering degree in Mechatronics. Mechatronics, involves multiple engineering fields such as mechanical, software and electrical. When I learned about it, it seemed like an interesting and challenging option and appealed to me more than the traditional engineering fields. So I enrolled and now have a job that I love!

What activities do you like to do outside of work?

I love to play sports! Basketball, weightlifting, snowboarding and badminton are some of my favourites.

What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?

Once you're in your degree program, focus on gaining technical skills that you will use in your future career. Instead of rote learning knowledge to solve textbook problems, develop a problem solving mindset to think creatively and critically, so that you are equipped to solve any future problem you will encounter.

CurioCity Careers

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