How does it feel to be returning to UBC Okanagan for your graduation ceremony?
It feels interesting to say the least, especially in the sense that I have not been back to campus since we abruptly left in March 2020. It was a hectic period, and I never felt that I had ample time to say goodbye to the place that I called home for the previous 4 years. In receiving the news of our graduation ceremony being renewed for this upcoming season, there are a lot of emotions: I’m excited to see how the campus has changed since I was last there, thrilled to see everyone that I used to talk to everyday, and inspired to see how I have changed as an individual since I first started as a student in 2016.
What is the first thing you are going to do when you are back on campus?
Have a milkshake at The Well! Hear me out… my first year was a time where my diet consisted of milkshakes, pizza, and grilled cheese (the key ingredients to the student lifestyle, of course). As such, I’m planning on one of my first acts to be going back to the UNC building to re-establish one of the traditions of late night studying. It’s exciting to think of how much we have grown since our first SolidWorks project, and rekindling our early onset routines will only bring back that nostalgia. With that, I’m excited to roam the halls and walkways of our campus to see what has changed and what is still familiar. While fixtures such as the water fountain in the Science building, the E, and the library study rooms are likely to be the same, UBCO is forever changing and I’m excited to see how much it has grown!
What are some of your fondest memories from being at UBC Okanagan?
UBCO was a place that not only allowed me to grow as an individual, but also allowed me to connect with people with similar aspirations and goals. As such, it’s difficult to pinpoint my fondest memories as my whole time at UBCO made me who I am today. It was not only the academic side – sharing jokes while writing reports until late at night with my group, competing in debate/re-engineering competitions, the feeling of when I finally understood my Vibrations course – but also the times in between. There was the embarrassment from when we burst into ongoing lecture halls for holiday carolling, the capture-the-flag competition between rival residence buildings (Go Nicola!), and activities even as small as being late to a class and running up the staircase in the Arts building completely out of breath with friends. UBCO was not just the academic or professional successes, but the small actions in the middle. What makes this school so great is the people in it, and the dedication they have to push the boundaries of engineering and support they give to their peers.
How have your studies at UBC Okanagan prepared you for your journey after your Engineering degree completion?
My experience at UBCO is what made me the engineer that I am today. When I first came to campus as a high school student, the faculty presented the inspirational message that “Tuum Est”: it is yours. What this was intended to mean is that the future is up to you to decide, but what I took this to mean is that I am the catalyst to the future that I want to be a part of; that my future is solidified by the decisions that I make today. UBCO was the only school that inspired me to step outside of my comfort zone and become the best version of myself.
During my time as a student, I took leadership roles in clubs and course unions, such as Engineers Without Borders and the Engineering Society at UBC, to help become a student advocate to advance the portfolios of creating meaningful change in my immediate surroundings. Further, I took part in the UBC’s Coordinated International Exchange program to study abroad at one of Europe’s leading engineering institutions, the Technical University of Denmark, to understand, learn from, and contrast how successful national renewable energy infrastructures are built sustainably. In applying these teachings, UBC Engineering’s Co-op program allowed me to be a part of the clean energy revolution as well as contribute to meaningful electricity generation and efficient energy use.
It was UBCO that allowed me the opportunity to foster these leadership qualities at home, and provided me the tools to apply them outside of campus.
Describe what you have been up to since your degree completion?
During my degree, my focus was centered around renewable energy and building sustainable infrastructure into our developing society. It was my goal to harness learnings from UBCO and apply them towards building a cleaner future. During my time within the UBC Engineering Co-op program, I started towards this journey working in energy management, and upon graduating, I returned to work at an organization which I started at as a co-op student. Drax Group is a multi-national renewable energy company focused on renewable power generation, sustainable biomass production, and the sale of renewable energies to businesses, all while having the ambition to be carbon negative by 2030. In the time when the effects of the climate crisis are becoming more and more prevalent, my goals are aligned with this mission to help build society towards a cleaner and more developed future. I am currently a Process Specialist who is focused on industrial process optimization, implementation of efficiency measures/projects, as well as management of the energy/utilities portfolio for our sustainable biomass production facilities across Canada.
What does the future hold for you?
It is us – as engineers – to adapt to new societal demands, and do our utmost to serve and protect the interests of the public with due diligence, respect, and integrity. This is especially relevant today where the future is completely unpredictable and can be upended with a moment’s notice. While the future is uncertain, I’m hoping to continue my mission to drive meaningful change within our infrastructure, and contribute to the movement that will see positive impacts that align with international climate goals. The future of my role within Drax is to continue to accelerate this mission, and foster sustainable energy infrastructure development. I thoroughly enjoy my work, and hope to grow with the company to achieve these objectives.
On the side, I have been studying towards my P.Eng., exploring my new home in Vancouver (bubble tea obsessions are absolutely real), and planning some international holiday travels. For this upcoming winter, I have been planning an expedition to Antarctica so that I can be a part of the unknown, and explore this completely new environment.
If you could share a message to your fellow graduating class, what would it be?
As graduates of 2020 and 2021, we are one of the most resilient groups of engineers who have completed university to date. As a result, we have had to navigate the transition of a “normal” society to one that is completely remote, become increasingly adaptable to meet new and emerging market trends, as well as become fully proficient in remembering to turn ourselves off mute when we are talking on a Zoom call (well… maybe most of the time). This has been a time of no other – no precedent to study off of, no manual to read from – for how to transition from being a student to part of the workforce. Because of that, we have had to rely on what we learned during our time as engineering students as well as what we learned about ourselves preparing for our degree. We each work to the best of our abilities and uniquely contribute to society and its advancement. We are all learning how to navigate this new environment, however, it is the perseverance, dedication and enthusiasm that we held initially as students that will propel us to be successful as young professionals. It is our drive, our passions, our personal missions that will allow us to be the best versions of ourselves and I’m excited to see the future that we all create together. Continue to stay strong during hard times, strive to make your mark within your communities, and be the change makers that society needs us to be.