Sophie Villemure is about to enter her second year in the Mechatronics & Robotics Engineering (MRE) program. As a high school student in New Brunswick, she knew from the moment she learned about the program that it was for her.

“I've always loved robots and been really interested in coding and tech,” she says, “even if I didn't have that much experience with it and I really wanted to learn. I knew I wanted to do engineering and I knew I wanted like a mix of mechanical and electrical. And I was looking at different universities and there are different mechatronics programs. And then I saw the Queen’s program was mechatronics, but more geared towards robots.”

Villemure found the program’s inaugural first year gratifying and appropriately challenging. “For first year, it's very similar to the common first year for all engineering students. We only had a few courses that are different. Probably one of the hardest ones that we have different from other engineering students is Data Structures and Algorithms. We learned it's very similar to a second-year course.” She lends this advice to incoming first-year MRE students: “Just find materials for that second-year course, and you're probably going to do well. You’ll have more resources at hand than we did because you’ll have what we used, and the professor has learned from us.”

As for second year, she’s inspired by her experience in first year and what’s in store. “I'm excited to take the mechatronics design course again,” she says. “It was really fun the first time. I heard a lot of people who are outside of the tron program really enjoyed the version of the mechatronics course they were allowed to take. I'm looking forward to that. Other than that, next year is a lot of pre-existing electrical and mechanical courses, so they're gonna be more specialized than what I'm currently doing, which will be more interesting.”

The tron program?

“We call ourselves the trons,” she says, with a smile. “One of our professors always called us the trons and it stuck.”

Over the summer, Villemure is employed by the Queen’s Summer Work Experience Program (SWEP) introducing STEM concepts to youth in the region. “I'm working with Science Quest as an instructor and curriculum coordinator. Before summer camps actually start, I create and host workshops for schools in the Kingston community. Later on in summer, there will be summer camps on campus. I'm also in charge of designing the camps. Right now I'm programming for the robotics camps.”