February 2010

Troubleshooting fuels this winner's fire

André Laplante Memorial Scholarship winner is passionate about problem-solving

By M. Eisner

 

Fourth-year materials engineering student Eric McIntyre is this year’s recipient of the $5,000 André Laplante Memorial Scholarship. McIntyre, 24, who grew up in Victoria, British Columbia, is pursuing his degree at the University of Alberta. He says the scholarship will really come in handy.

“Every time I’ve been in school I’ve worked part time. I haven’t had to take out student loans,” says McIntyre. “I have had to pay for everything myself. I saw the scholarship as an opportunity to not work extra and to be able to concentrate on school. It’s going to be a big bonus.”

Displaying an aptitude for math, physics and chemistry at high school, McIntyre received much encouragement from his teachers to apply to university to study engineering. He chose material engineering in his second year.

“I was torn between chemical and mechanical engineering, and opted for materials, the middle of the line,” he says. His defining moment came during his summer work terms.

“My mining and extractive metallurgy passion was realized during my three work terms with Teck at their lead and zinc refinery located in Trail, British Columbia,” explains McIntyre. “I discovered that the leaching efficiency in the main autoclave was below what was expected and found that it was due to a poorly operated ball mill. The challenges of the troubleshooting process kept my fire fuelled.” He also enjoyed working with the operators and lab technicians in a collaborative way.

When he graduates this spring, McIntyre will travel for a few months before he looks for work. In five years, he says he sees himself “working with a technical troubleshooting group.” He hopes to one day manage a technical group and says that the only mystery is “where in the world this will take me.”

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