Alumni Engagement

‘Outstanding’ experience for Mechanical Engineering grad leads to rewarding role as agriculture product designer

May 3, 2024

From a high-flying co-op experience to a career in agriculture spanning more than a decade, Engineering Prototype Build Manager Glen Beamish has found his ideal landing spot.

Growing up on a grain farm near Hamiota, Manitoba, Beamish’s passion for agriculture was intrinsic from an early age.

When it was time to choose a career path after attending Hamiota Collegiate, an interest in engineering and product design led him to RRC Polytech, where he enrolled in the Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) program.

Jet-setting co-ops

It was two work-integrated learning experiences that affirmed Beamish was on the right path, both set in a booming Manitoba industry: aerospace.

“I had two different co-ops with aerospace companies — one with Standard Aero in their tool design department and one the following summer with Magellan in their manufacturing engineering department,” said Beamish.

“I got more exposed to engineering and figured out how the program I was taking at the College might translate to a career. Most of my experience to that point had nothing to do with engineering. In high school, we were in a small town, so we didn’t have a lot of exposure to engineers.”

Going from a small town to a tight-knit group in the MET program was another highlight of Beamish’s polytechnic experience.

“It’s the friendships, for sure,” he said. “You’re in a tight-knit class for eight hours a day trying to build your project skills, and you build some pretty good relationships with people who are all going through the same experience.”

“There was a sense of community in that program — one of my classmates was even my landlord. It was great that way. We made some great memories.”

Starting a career in engineering design

After graduating in 2010, Beamish got his first job at Shur-Lift Industries, a division of Princess Auto, as a designer in their manufacturing area working on air compressors, pressure washers, and hydraulic cylinders.

He’ll admit that the eventual goal, though, was to marry his new experience in engineering with the industry he had grown up in.

“My co-ops in aerospace were cool and all, but I really wanted to give back to the agricultural sector and really make an impact from a food processing standpoint,” said Beamish.

He got that opportunity in 2012 when he joined MacDon Industries, a North American company manufacturing harvesting equipment, as a Design Technologist. One of his latest successes in that role was being on the main design team for MacDon’s EasyMove Transport draper headers, which came out in 2020.

“There has been a lot of learning from a research and development standpoint at MacDon,” Beamish said.

“To actually see it and experience it, how you’re working with various different experimental mechanics in shops to proof and build out your concept, to get feedback from dealers, customers, product support, manufacturing support, all these different areas — it was rewarding.”

In the fall of 2020, Beamish applied for the position he has now, as an Engineering Prototype Build Manager, working with many of the same people he was before, but now in a leadership role.

“I had really enjoyed the hands-on side of dealing with items and projects, and this was a shift to overseeing the team of guys who manufacture and build the initial concepts, the proofs, the one-off that designers dream of. It’s a fun opportunity.”

Variety the spice of life

Through co-ops in aerospace and a career spanning multiple industries, Beamish believes it’s the variety of work that has helped guide him towards the job he now loves, and getting that variety started as an MET student.

“Different roles, co-op opportunities, employers — getting that engineering-based experience wherever it existed was vital both when I was a student and after I graduated. The co-ops and the involvement that RRC Polytech has with industry partners is integral,” he said.

“You also get exposed to feedback by talking to past graduates in different industries. I’m currently working with guys who graduated just before me and just after me in the program, and we’ve developed some pretty good friendships.”

Beamish is also proud of how MacDon continues that cycle of learning, hiring students in many areas of the company throughout the year, including work-integrated positions for RRC Polytech students. These student roles include Test Technicians, Harvest Support Representatives, and various jobs in HR, safety, accounting, manufacturing, and engineering.

The advice Beamish has for these students as they pursue their careers?

“Never stop learning, never stop taking feedback, because it can all be extremely beneficial towards your designs. It’s huge to know how the user deals with what you create, because they’ve dealt with different things and have exposure to the real world. You can get caught up in your design and hyperfocus on the details, and when someone comes in with a fresh set of eyes, you can still find improvements,” said Beamish.

“You never know what someone can teach you and there’s a lot of life experience out there.”

Profile by John Gaudes (Creative Communications, 2012).

RRC Polytech campuses are located on the lands of Anishinaabe, Ininiwak, Anishininew, Dakota, and Dené, and the National Homeland of the Red River Métis.

We recognize and honour Treaty 3 Territory Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, the source of Winnipeg’s clean drinking water. In addition, we acknowledge Treaty Territories which provide us with access to electricity we use in both our personal and professional lives.

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