Summer student is on road to success
Creating jobs for Islanders -
Haley Ellis admits she didn’t know much about asphalt when she started this past June as a summer student at the provincial government’s Slemon Park road shop.
The 2017 Westisle Composite High School graduate did know she would begin studying sustainable design engineering at UPEI this fall. The summer job taught her about measuring and mixing asphalt so it met exacting standards. It also gave her a valuable on-the-job start to her engineering education that’s now in full swing.
“It has been helpful because the experience has been really hands on,” said Ellis, surrounded by all the tools in the road shop’s lab that help to ensure the province’s roads withstand the most extreme Island weather. She worked under the supervision of David McNally, who has 36 years of experience as an asphalt technician with the province.
As Women’s History Month is upon us, it’s important to note that Ellis will be entering what is still a non-traditional career for women. While the number of women in engineering professions in Canada has grown steadily over the past decade, Engineers Canada says women still make up just 13 percent of practicing engineers.
Growing up on the family beef farm in East Bideford as the youngest of six children, Haley is used to carving out her own niche. She juggled a high school schedule loaded with advanced chemistry and physics courses while still finding time to play every sport possible, sticking to hockey and rugby by grade 12.
Ellis credits two Westisle teachers – Randy Harper in physics and Nancy Getson in chemistry – for helping her explore all her post-graduation options. She settled on sustainable design engineering because she could study at UPEI’s new state-of-the-art building and easily transfer the skills to different fields. However, she’s always wanted to become an architect.
“You can take the full four-year program at UPEI or transfer to Dal or UNB for the second two years, but I really want to do the full program at UPEI,” she said.
After graduating she’d like to do some traveling, mainly to Venice and to Sweden, where one of her brothers plays hockey. Although she’d be open to working in other parts of Canada, she’d ultimately prefer to return home.
Government offers programs for students who want to build careers in Prince Edward Island. One is the Graduate Mentorship Program, which helps recent post-secondary graduates gain work experience in their field of study. Students can visit www.workpei.ca to learn more about job opportunities and get information on programs to help them transition into their careers in the province.
“I’d really like to live here on the Island and stay here,” Ellis said.