Mohammad Kamali, PhD ’19 (Civil) is a professor in the Faculty of Science, Technology, & Health at Okanagan College.
What inspired you to go into Engineering?
As a child, I was always curious and explored everything to uncover simple solutions to complex problems. I would then eagerly share my ideas with my family and friends. Years later, I realized that engineering beautifully combines science and mathematics which was a right fit for my desire to find answers to my passionate quest for problem solving. I have always been inspired to contribute to the betterment of society and its environment’s life cycle, so I found that engineering and sustainability were the ideal disciplines to enable my pursuit for higher education and learning.
Why did you choose the School of Engineering?
After earning my BSc and MSc in Civil Engineering, I worked for a few years as a civil engineer in the professional sector, gaining invaluable experience. I then decided to pursue my dreams and goals of obtaining a PhD. I researched various world-class universities to find an ideal academic environment that would allow me to continue investigating sustainable solutions to real-world problems. After applying and receiving admission to a number of international universities, I chose to conduct my research in sustainable construction management at the University of British Columbia – Okanagan campus. I am now fortunate to be an alumnus of UBC Okanagan’s School of Engineering.
The multidisciplinary research environment at the School of Engineering is an excellent opportunity for students looking to conduct research in areas that might not fully encapsulate a classic engineering program. In many cases, students and faculty from various disciplines form a collaborative research team to work on interdisciplinary research topics in which students work on finding current solutions to complicated problems facing our ever-changing environments.
What were some of your highlights of studying at UBC Okanagan?
Studying at UBC Okanagan was one of the most fascinating and memorable experiences in my life. I had the incredible opportunity to work with Dr. Kasun Hewage as my PhD supervisor. Dr Hewage is a passionate researcher and without his mentorship, the successful completion of my research journey and publication of multiple articles in top peer-reviewed journals and conference publications would not have been possible. During the research phase of my PhD, I had been in contact with numerous professionals, construction firms, and organizations within the Okanagan and throughout BC. This afforded me an invaluable opportunity to showcase my communication and networking skills and become familiar with the Canadian construction industry. Being a teaching assistant for numerous courses was also a great opportunity for me to improve my teaching skills. Furthermore, communicating with graduate students from different countries in diverse settings and cultures at UBC Okanagan was a memorable experience that contributed to my global outlook where I was able to learn about various cross-cultural norms and praxis. Last but not least, living in Kelowna in the heart of the Okanagan where the beautiful UBC Okanagan campus is located, has provided me and my family with an unforgettable experience.
Were there some faculty / courses that really had an impact on your experience? If so, how/which ones?
I am grateful to Dr. Rehan Sadiq, because despite his busy schedule, he always had the time to discuss my research and his priceless advice and constructive comments definitely enhanced the quality of my research work. In addition, the Multicriteria Optimization and Design of Experiments course by Dr. Abbas Milani was a valuable learning experience for me in which I could apply the vital knowledge I gained to my own research. Dr. Milani’s encouragement and creative comments also helped to improve the quality of my research.
Upon graduation, what was your plan?
During my doctoral studies, I came to realize that I wanted to stay within the academic field in order to continue finding new solutions to our complex world. This has allowed me to pursue my passion for research, and to be able to disseminate new and emergent knowledge to upcoming generations of engineers.
What is your current position?
I am currently a professor in the Faculty of Science, Technology, & Health at Okanagan College. I am also continuing my research in the field of sustainable construction and life cycle thinking
Describe your role.
I am currently teaching civil engineering and sustainable construction management courses at Okanagan College. Such courses offer an excellent learning opportunity for students to gain practical and applied knowledge, skills, and opportunities for their future careers. I am also assisting with designing course syllabi and program development. Teaching at Okanagan College is an incredible opportunity for me to pass on the knowledge I gained at UBC Okanagan and before.
How did you find your current role?
Before my PhD thesis defense, I had learned about the teaching opportunity at Okanagan College from a fellow graduate, so I applied for my current teaching position. After completing the application process, I received an offer for teaching effective immediately after the successful completion of my PhD degree.
Overall, what would you say is the impact that UBC Okanagan and the School of Engineering has had on you?
UBC Okanagan, and in particular, the School of Engineering have helped me to define my future career in the field of research and teaching. I will forever be grateful to Dr. Kasun Hewage who believed in me, trusted in my abilities, encouraged me to grow as a researcher, and taught me how to strive for the highest standards in this noble profession. I am proud to be a graduate of UBC.