Megha Desai is in her second-year of the Mechanical Engineering program (Biomedical Option), and serves as the 2021 Vice-President Communications at the UBC Okanagan Women in Engineering.
What drew you to engineering?
I always loved math and sciences, but what drew me to the engineering field is how impactful it is in solving real world problems, such as inventing carbon capture technology or creating bioprosthetic heart valves! Engineering is also constantly evolving, and I really wanted to pursue a career in a field where I am always learning something new.
Was there a moment when it became clear that engineering was right for you?
Growing up, I was always excited about building things with my hands, whether it be a Lego structure or my pneumatic marshmallow cannon. During my first year of engineering, I took a course called APSC 171 where we were introduced to rapid prototyping using SolidWorks, and team-based design projects. We were able to combine concepts we learned in other classes and hands-on create a prototype that focused on solving a real-world problem. That was an epic moment where I realized engineering was the perfect fit for me as it combined my love for innovation and academics.
We often hear that studying engineering is grueling, what has been your experience?
It is true, studying engineering can be challenging at times. There is a lot of information presented to you in a short amount of time, which requires you to put in time outside of classes to really understand the concepts. However, in my experience although challenging it can be extremely rewarding. I enjoy that when I turn on my car, I know the mechanism behind it or appreciate the wonders of simple machines when I am using my can opener. In my opinion being excited about what you are learning and connecting it to the world around you can make the ‘gruelling’ experience somewhat enjoyable ?
How do you approach your studies?
I usually breakdown my day into four components: lectures, studying, free time and sleep. I have found that pulling all-nighters (though sometimes inevitable) does not work well for me. I like to schedule my day so I can get at least seven hours of sleep. I try to apply the concepts learned during the lectures by working on my assignments in between classes, and then leaving some free time at the end of the day to unwind. Specifically for online studying, I have found it super helpful being able to revisit my recorded lectures and understand the concepts at my pace during the weekend.
Why do you participate in extracurriculars?
Since my first year I have been involved with the UBCO’s Concrete Toboggan Team. I initially joined the club to make new friends outside of first year, as well as expose myself to engineering outside of class. I was able to travel to Toronto with my team in 2020 for competition where I met engineering students from all over Canada and US! It was one of the most memorable experiences so far in my degree.
I am also VP Communications for the Women in Engineering organization on campus, which allowed me to connect with other females in the program, as well as create connections in the industry. I am a strong believer in the initiative 30 by 30, and WiE embodies that initiative. It is amazing to be part of a community that works to advocate that goal.
Why should a prospective student consider engineering?
A prospective student should consider engineering because it not only provides you with a strong understanding of the fundamental principles of math and science, but it also trains you to think critically and manage your time efficiently. These skills are applicable to all aspects of your life!
What are your future aspirations?
In the future, I hope to pursue a career in the sustainable energy or biomedical industry. I am currently in the mechanical engineering program with the biomedical option and am looking forward to taking classes on bioinstrumentation and medical devices!