As the popular adage goes, Teamwork Makes the Dream Work, and for this trio of Mechanical Engineering alumni, they are proving just that.

Grant Armitage (Sc’12), Angus Rawding (Sc’22), and Braydon Lloyd (Sc’23) graduated at various times and excelled at their respective Gaels varsity teams, but their common paths finally diverged while successfully launching and building their careers at Labworks International Inc.

The company of 50 employees, based in Woodbridge, Ontario, designs and manufactures Environmental Chambers that create critical environments for the healthcare, institutional, pharmaceutical, and industrial sectors. Cold rooms, clean rooms, incubators, and freezers are just some of the products it supplies to renowned clients all over Canada and the U.S., including Canadian Blood Services, Princess Margaret Hospital, and the Mayo Clinic.

“We do a lot of pharma projects, so that's what the three of us have been involved in,” says Armitage, who’s father, Ian (Sc’81) and brother, John (Sc’12) are also Smith Engineering alumni. One of the many jobs the three colleagues are particularly proud of is their involvement with the U.S. President Joseph Biden’s Operation Warp Speed, which helped to accelerate the availability of COVID vaccines during the height of the pandemic. “To make sure they could build all these vaccines, we went to the Moderna plant in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and started up a minus 40-degree freezer for COVID vaccine storage, and since then we've been getting more and more projects like that.” 

Their specialized team, in which Armitage is a senior project manager and Rawding and Lloyd are both project managers, is currently working on a blast cooler for the new billion-dollar Sanofi B200 FLUZONE plant in Toronto. Armitage explained how the Sanofi company’s flu vaccines are currently produced in Swiftwater, Pennsylvania, and the Canadian government made the recent decision to become self-sufficient and manufacture its own supply. “It's the biggest company and the biggest project we've ever had,” says Armitage. “For a small company like Labworks to get the trust of a massive company like Sanofi is pretty exciting.”

The best part of their work is the opportunity for continual learning. “It’s so nice having to do the projects from start to finish and having involvement in the complete process,” says Rawding. “No job is the same, so you're getting a different experience with every project.”


Grant Armitage, Angus Rawding, and Braydon Lloyd


Armitage, Rawding, and Lloyd readily acknowledge a sense of camaraderie and kinship in the workplace, that is strengthened by their shared academic and athletic background at Queen’s. They were members of the rowing, lacrosse, and baseball teams respectively, and many of their fondest university memories spring from their unique varsity experiences.

“My time on the baseball team are some of my best memories of Queen’s,” says Lloyd. Armitage adds the importance of striking the right balance between academics and extracurricular activities because it can also directly impact career success. “It's not just the bookish part of engineering and of knowing how things go together,” he says, adding that the value of being well-rounded and participating in team sports is a great training ground on how to navigate the real world.

While reminiscing about their time at Smith Engineering, they agree the friendships the trio engendered along the way prove to be paramount. “We had a close-knit group,” says Rawding. “There were roughly 400 students when I graduated, and we knew every single one of them by first name. Everyone got along and it was just a great environment. The collaboration sets you up so well for negotiating the workplace.”

Lloyd adds, “Everybody treated our experience at Queen’s like a team effort by working and studying together.” Due to this supportive atmosphere, Armitage also highlights how the Queen's program is able to provide “that mix of hard and soft skills” that can go a long way.

Pertaining to advice for future grads, Lloyd stresses the importance of being open-minded and taking advantage of opportunities that are available to you. “In terms of looking for a career, keep your options open. I think a lot of people struggle with what they want to do. I didn't figure that out until I did an internship,” he says. “I took the job and started learning and now I love it. I think the engineering internships have become very popular recently, and I would highly recommend them to everyone.”

Rawding recalls how he didn’t participate in an internship, and in hindsight, he wishes he had. “The internship definitely helps you figure out what you want to do and what direction you really want to head in, post-grad,” he says. Armitage adds, “Keep an open mind to what you think engineering is and what jobs are out there. I never thought I was going to become essentially a refrigeration engineer, and build clean rooms and cold rooms, but here we are and it's a huge industry.”

When it comes to the future goals of this team of Queen’s alumni, all three agree that they look forward to continuing to prosper both personally and professionally with their current company. 

“It sounds kind of straightforward,” says Armitage, “but it's exciting to be where everything is growing.”




This article is relevant to the following Strategic Actions as defined in the Strategic Plan:

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