Kalie Smith – MASc ’19 (Civil)
Why did you choose to study at UBC Okanagan?
When I was researching graduate schools, my first priority was finding a thesis supervisor in my area (geotechnical engineering), but a very close second priority was that it be in a city where I would enjoy living and could afford to live. In the end, UBC Okanagan was the only school I applied to.
What has the experience been like thus far?
UBC Okanagan is a lot smaller than my undergraduate school (University of Waterloo), and so I have found it a lot easier to build community on campus, both within and outside of engineering. This campus has all the services that students need, and the staff are really great. I’ve also really enjoyed the transition from undergraduate to graduate studies because I can manage my time more independently and with more flexibility.
Describe your research
I am hoping to research the impact of freeze-thaw cycles on homogeneous earth dams used in the oil and gas industry in northern BC and Alberta. I’m hoping to do a forensic analysis on how freeze-thaw cycles are causing problems in these dams. The goal is to develop design and construction best practices in order to minimize risk of failure for these dams.
What do you enjoy about working with your supervisor and your research group?
My supervisor (Dwayne Tannant) is really available, knowledgeable, and professional, and he has made it clear that he cares about his students. About once a month my research group meets and a few people will make presentations. Every so often we also do something social as a group – this winter we went curling, and in the spring we got together for a potluck.
Can you talk about the importance of the EGSS to your experience at UBC Okanagan?
My first weekend after moving to Kelowna I attended a mini-golf and go-karting event with the EGSS. It was such a great way to meet people as soon as I moved here. I’ve since attended most of the major events they held throughout the year. In April I ran for and was elected to the executive team for the upcoming year, so we are just getting started with planning events, and I’m really excited to get to know some more students throughout the year!
What do you like to do when you are not in the lab?
I love to hike, run, swim, and travel. I love exploring the Okanagan! I’m also involved with a church in Kelowna and a Christian community on campus. This fall I will be working at the Writing and Research Center on campus.
Are you involved in any extra-curricular activities?
If so, what are they and why is important to you to be involved? I am Vice-President Services for the EGSS and have been involved with UCM and Women in Engineering throughout the year. The people I’ve met here have truly made my UBC Okanagan experience. There is so much more to grad student life than working. It’s going by fast and I’m trying to make the most of it.
Looking ahead 5 or 10 years, where do you see yourself?
Hopefully working as a consulting geotechnical engineer in British Columbia. I try not to plan too far ahead and keep my options open.
Best advice you have received so far at UBC? Advice you’d give to a student consider UBC Okanagan for their graduate studies?
To give up on perfectionist tendencies and not burn out. I’m still working on both of those things.