Emily Earl (BASc ’19, Mechanical) is currently working towards a MASc in Mechanical Engineering (2021).
Why did you choose the School of Engineering?
I decided to study engineering at the UBC Okanagan campus primarily because of the size of the campus and the reputation of the university. Coming from a particularly small town, the thought of going to a university campus where the population of the campus itself was bigger than the population of my hometown was a bit frightening. While there are many smaller university campuses around Canada, UBC was and still is well known for its excellent engineering program, and strong research initiatives. I have found the community of UBC Okanagan to be very welcoming, inclusive, and diverse. With small classes, I have had plenty of opportunities to establish strong connections with instructors outside of class time whenever help was needed.
What were some of your highlights of studying at UBC Okanagan?
One of my favourite things about studying at UBC Okanagan is how early the Engineering program encourages students to be creative and figure out how to develop solutions to real life problems. With major course projects being introduced in first year within the APSC 169 course and again in second year with APSC 258, I feel this encourages students to think outside the box and prepare for their final Capstone project in fourth year, as well as the real world to follow.
Were there some faculty / courses that really had an impact on your experience?
In addition to the major design project courses, some of the other courses that had a large impact on my engineering experience were the newly introduced courses that intertwined aspects of biology with engineering, such as Tissue Engineering and Biotechnology. Even though a Biomedical Engineering specialization was unavailable during my time at UBC, it still provided me opportunity to look into that side of the engineering world while maintaining my Mechanical Engineering specialization.
Although many professors have impacted my studies at UBC, the one that stands out most of all is Dr. Hoorfar. She not only encouraged me to start my laboratory research experience by providing opportunities to work in the Advanced Thermofluidic Laboratory over the summer months of my undergraduate degree, but also continually supports me during my master’s degree by pushing me to try new ideas, no matter how different or crazy they may seem.
Upon graduation, what was your plan?
Upon the graduation of my BASc at UBC Okanagan, my plan was always to pursue further education. Originally I didn’t think I was going to stay at UBCO, but was pleasantly surprised when offered a spot. After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
How did you find your current role?
I found my current position at UBC Okanagan by reviewing the laboratory websites for some of the professors I had made strong connections with throughout my undergraduate degree and looking for groups that were focused on biomedical engineering technologies. After seeing that Dr. Hoorfar’s lab was quite diverse in project areas and had a few projects that were on the biomedical side, I arranged a meeting with her to discuss if she was looking for any graduate students. Thankfully, she was. I continued with my MASc application with Dr. Hoorfar listed as my prospective supervisor and began my degree in September, 2019.
Overall, what would you say is the impact that UBC Okanagan and the School of Engineering has had on you?
Studying engineering at the UBC Okanagan campus has helped me grow my abilities to problem solve and helped me learn how to turn ideas into a reality. From starting with small ideas within the first year of my bachelor’s degree to big ideas now present in my master’s degree, my studies at UBC Okanagan have continually proven to me that all ideas have worth and can be formed from even the littlest of thoughts.
In addition, I have had the opportunity to meet many different people, work in a variety of research groups on campus in varying fields, and got to learn about topics in specialized areas thanks to the amazing professors here. I strongly believe that the engineering program at the School of Engineering has been developing and continually improving to provide students with as much choice, freedom, and support as possible, allowing for all students to gain the most from their experience here at UBC Okanagan.
Do you have a job lined up after you graduate? role and company?
After my MASc is complete, I have no plans as of yet. I want to take the time at the outset of my graduate studies to determine if research is a path I want to pursue further before deciding what I want to do next.
Describe your role.
I am a MASc student specializing in mechanical engineering working under the supervision of Dr. Hoorfar. My current research focuses on creating a specialized type of biocompatible hydrogel to act as a sponge to relocate highly concentrated stomach acid away from the esophagus upon ingestion. The purpose of this project is to aid in symptom management for those with chronic heartburn and provide an alternative to current treatment options.