FIRST Alumni Careers: Alex Wigle

FRC team 854 alumni Alex Wigle started his engineering career at Hatch. Check out what Alex had to say about his experience so far.

Q1. What’s your job at Hatch and how long have you been there?
AW: I joined Hatch in June 2015 and I work as a Piping EIT within the High Pressure Metallurgy group designing autoclave pressure vessels. I assist a multi-disciplinary team of Engineers and Technologists in designing pressure vessels that operate at high pressures and temperatures to process ore into concentrates and metal. Specifically, my job is to engineer piping systems and other mechanical equipment inside the mine’s ore processing facility. I work closely with other engineers at Hatch, our clients, and other project stakeholders to select the best equipment for the job and make sure that it operates safely and reliably all while being cost effective. Some of the projects I work on are brownfield mines where I solve reliability problems or recommend changes to increase throughput of their assets. Other times it is a greenfield facility that we design from scratch, much like designing a robot after a kickoff event. I’ve had the chance to work on projects in Canada, the United States, Russia New Caledonia, and Peru, and with each location it comes with a unique set of challenges.

Q2. What do you enjoy most about working at Hatch?
AW: Working at Hatch offers a lot of opportunities especially for a young professional starting out in their career. The projects that I have worked on range in size, complexity, and location—no two projects are alike. The variety in work keeps things interesting and provides new opportunities to learn. I also get to work with experienced professionals so there are great mentorship opportunities. In addition, Hatch has a Professional Development Program (PDP) for new graduates that are in the first three years of their career. The PDP program connects other young professionals together by hosting various events for networking, continuing education, and outreach.

Q3. How has your experience with FIRST impacted opportunities for you and your career at Hatch?
AW: My experience with FIRST was really what kicked off my interest in getting into engineering, and my experiences on co-op led me to working at Hatch. As a student, I learned a lot of transferable skill sets such as design skills, team work, and time management. Just like during the FRC build season where you work with the design, wiring and programming teams to build the robot, in plant design you work with Mechanical, Electrical, Structural and other engineers to design the ore processing plant. These skills help me daily in my work.

By being involved with FIRST I’ve also been able to connect with other colleagues at Hatch to increase our participation in the organization. By sharing my own experiences as a FIRST student I’ve been able to connect with colleagues across the organization to better support FIRST initiatives and our student teams.

Q4. Are you still involved in FIRST and if so, why do you feel that involvement is important?
AW: I am pleased to say I am quite involved in FIRST and each year I end up getting more involved! Since graduating from University, I started with mentoring my Alumni FRC Team 854, The Iron Bears. I find it really rewarding to share some of my own experiences and lessons learned from past competitions to mentor these students. I feel it is important to give back the same opportunities that I had when I was a FIRST student. The experiences you gain as a participant in FIRST is unlike any other in terms of complexity and real-world applicability, it’s a great preparation for University and working in Industry.

I’ve also been helping coordinate Hatch’s sponsorship of FIRST Robotics Canada. Part of this is raising awareness of how closely FIRST fits in with our corporate culture. Each year we invite our sponsored teams into Hatch to meet the teams. We’ve also connected colleagues with mentoring and volunteering opportunities at competitions. This year we are expanding our sponsorship to teams in the Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver offices in addition to the greater Toronto area.

Q5. What kind of opportunities are there at Hatch and where can FIRST students go to find out more information about them?
AW: There are many opportunities for students and new graduates at Hatch. We hire co-ops, interns and summer students and the positions are typically posted four months before the start date. Many of the full-time staff began their full-time career at Hatch after working here as a student.

Hatch also hires new graduates across the country for full-time permanent positions. These new graduate postings begin to appear in the early fall.

Hatch career opportunities can be found on our website and I encourage anyone who is interested to check regularly.

Thank you, Alex! We wish you an exciting career at Hatch and look forward to seeing you at FIRST events!

To join the FIRST Canada Alumni network on LinkedIn, click here.