Madison Smith is a fourth year mechanical engineering student at UBC Okanagan’s School of Engineering.
Why did you choose engineering?
Hi, my name is Madison. I am a fourth year mechanical engineering student at UBC Okanagan. I decided to choose engineering because I was really interested in math and science in high school, so I definitely knew that I wanted to go into some sort of STEM program. And I also really liked being creative, and so I was trying to find a way to mix the two. And engineering has actually a lot of creative aspects. So within design, there’s a lot of room to have your own input in the design as well incorporate mathematical calculations. I really love the combination of those two as well as the job prospects were really great.
When I decided to pursue my engineering degree, I also was really looking to develop a lot of my soft skills because I know when you enter the workforce you’re working in a lot of teams and a lot of projects, and so joining clubs is a way to get yourself exposed to working in teams with different people and building soft skills. For example, I’ve learned budgeting, event planning and those are things I just did not expect to learn while I was getting an engineering degree.
Why UBC Okanagan?
The main reason is the fact that it’s in the Okanagan. The Okanagan is probably one of the most beautiful places I’ve been in Canada, and that was definitely a big drawing factor for me as well as it being UBC itself. UBC has such a good reputation and as a person who is from a very small town.
Growing up in the Gulf Islands, coming to a city like Vancouver seemed like way too daunting for me. It was just much too big of a city. I also hoping for like a smaller campus dynamic. So, I really love the size of UBC Okanagan. I feel like I have really good relationships with my professors and I’ve become friends with a lot of my TAs as well.
Getting to know people in different programs, in graduate programs is really nice. And I also really love that there’s so many mountains nearby. The views are beautiful and Big Way Ski Resort is pretty close by and I really wanted to learn how to snowboard and I did!
Community is really important for me especially as an 18 year old moving away from home. And I think if you have a really good community around you, it allows you to be the best version of yourself because you’re more confident to go out and want to do things. You feel accepted. One thing that I found really interesting is coming back. I mean, we were I was part of the COVID year, so there was about a year we were fully online. But coming back, I realized the smaller campus dynamic made a huge difference in allowing me to have already established a strong community of friends and mentors on campus. And even when I go out, it’s like everywhere I go, I know somebody and it just makes you feel like you really belong on campus and even off of campus.
Why did you choose Mechanical Engineering?
Mechanical engineering is such a diverse degree to have. It’s one of the reasons that I chose it. I wanted something that was a little bit more open-ended.
I am in the biomedical option, and really love the option. I’m hoping to eventually work within the biomed field or something that is applicable to biomed. However, with a mechanical engineering degree, I may end up in aerospace or I could end up in biomed or maybe even automotive.
As of right now, once I graduate, I have an internship as a sales engineer. It is kind of a career path I didn’t know about. You can work within sales and do technical sales or work to engineering products. As a sales engineer, I’ll be using the soft skills I’ve developed through extracurriculars including negotiating, presenting, and working with a team.
The opportunities are so broad, so I don’t exactly know where I’m going to end up. I mean, I am in my fourth year of a five year program and so soon I will figure out where I’m going to go. I have heard that engineers change their career paths like four or five times throughout their career.
Having a job lined up already, makes it less daunting heading towards graduation, knowing that I already have something lined up.
Tell us about your extra-curricular activities
In my third year, I helped host the Western Engineering Competition 2022 and that year was still somewhat mid-pandemic. We were hoping originally to have the event in person and it was quite a long and arduous process. Organizing a 350-person conference involves a lot of moving parts. We were hoping to have it in downtown Kelowna, but at the last minute we had to move it all online.
It was still such an amazing learning experience, and I got to work with an awesome team of people along with sponsors and companies. It felt like being in a professional environment while still being a student.
For me, I built a community through joining clubs. The first club that I actually joined was the Engineering Society, and I got exposed to so much more by going to conferences. I didn’t know that you could be traveling the country representing your school, but you can. And I met a lot of amazing people there and that helped me create really great bonds in my first year. And after that, I’ve continued being a part of the Engineering Society. As a group, we advocate for the student body. It’s a really great team of driven students and it’s a really great way to network.
Throughout my engineering degree, being part of the engineering society really allowed me to find a good group of students who were just as driven as me and interested in the same fields that I’m interested in.