Sam Charles

Communications Manager

School of Engineering
Office: EME4242
Phone: 250.807.8136


Sam started at the Okanagan campus of the University of British in 2013 as a Senior Media Production Specialist with UBC Studios Okanagan.  After four years in that role, he transitioned into the Communications Manager role with the School of Engineering.

At the School of Engineering, he is responsible for developing strategic communication materials that highlight the innovative research and experiential learning on the Okanagan campus.  Sam is energized by telling the endlessly inspiring stories of the School’s researchers, students and staff.

With over twenty years of experience in communications, film, television and radio production, Sam is a seasoned professional communicator focused on generating dynamic and engaging content.

Sam has represented Canada three-times at Summer World University Games as Team Canada’s videographer documenting the Games for international audiences.  On Friday nights during the varsity season, he is the play-by-play voice (and technical advisor) for UBC Okanagan Heat basketball and volleyball webcasts on


Integrated strategic communications including social media; Develop, design, and maintain communications content; Media relations; Issues Management; Develop and prepare faculty awards nominations


Building a cleaner and more sustainable planet is motivating third-year Electrical Engineering student Erika Pineo as she walks across the Okanagan campus.

Recently back on campus, Pineo spent the last 16-months on co-op with 2 different organizations after completing her first two years of undergraduate studies,

“Co-op has really provided me with direction about what I want to do in the future,” says Pineo. “Doing co-op sequentially allowed me to gain skills, develop them, and refine them.”

Landing those co-op jobs wasn’t the easiest process, and required a steep learning curve according to Pineo. Despite having worked many part-time jobs, Pineo says developing an effective resume for an engineering role is completely different. Apart from drafting strong cover letters and job-specific resumes, she says her interviews tended to be less behavioural-focused and more technical focused.

“Applying is quality over quantity, explains Pineo who applied for over a hundred jobs in order to land her first co-op position. However, she only applied for one in her second go-around. “I probably put more time into that one application and used the knowledge I gained from the first time around to make sure it was solid.”

Pineo’s first co-op was with UBC Okanagan‘s School of Engineering as a Technical Director at Geering Up. Her next three terms were at Fortis BC in three different roles.

“Fortis was an incredible opportunity, and that was partly a result of connections I made while I was there including with UBC alum from both the Okanagan and Vancouver,” says Pineo. “I’ve also tried to build upon that by referring other UBC students to Fortis and paying it forward.”

Co-op taught Pineo many lessons, but the big one was learning to reach out and ask for help. “When it is all on you, and you don’t know how to do it, the barrier to entry is very high,” explains Pineo. “By getting help and direction, you are able to jump into the task and get it done – which allows you to have more time to work on cooler things and develop your skills further.”

Looking back on her first two-years of undergrad, Pineo points to APSC 169, Fundamentals of Sustainable Engineering Design, as a very influential course that has led her to where she is today. Although she acknowledges that her technical skills weren’t as strong as her peers during first year, her communication skills were above par. “It was amazing to share my skill set with my peers and learn from them. It resulted in an influential water consumption reduction program that was implemented by UBC Sustainability and remains on campus today.”

Pineo has always been interested in conservation, and in particular water and energy conservation. Her experience with Fortis, and growing up by the ocean in Nova Scotia, has guided her towards a future in marine renewable energy. “Keeping water clean while harnessing its energy potential has so many exciting possibilities, and I’m looking forward to making a difference in this area.”


Handrails are something that most of us take for granted. In fact, that is exactly how third-year Mechanical Engineering student Catarina Rodriguez perceived them prior to this past summer.

Rodriguez was interested in exploring research, and applied for an NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA) with Assistant Professor Vicki Komisar. “As I investigated possible research I could explore, it opened my eyes to a research that I didn’t even consider to be in the realm of engineering.”

Their project looked at sex-based differences in loading patterns, and the type of forces that individuals apply to handrails.

As a Mechanical Engineering student taking the Biomedical Option, Rodriguez was well-suited for the undertaking this research. “USRA provided an opportunity to take what I’ve learned in the classroom and apply it to something meaningful in the real-world.”

The study used existing data generated through a collaboration between Komisar and Dr. Alison Novak at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute.

Existing design standards have provisions for handrail structural strength, but they are based on population-level data, and have never been analyzed based on sex. “This is very important because of very established muscle strength differences between males and females,” says Komisar. “Catarina’s work really helped to identify where these differences were and were not present.”

Their findings indicate that forces applied to handrails vary depending on loading direction, with males applying larger forces as a function of their weight in directions where the user pulls with the arms, such as sideways or upward. They also found that in directions with mostly pushing, such as downward, forces were based on the user’s mass with negligible differences between sexes.

Being able to work with a newer professor had additional benefits according to Rodriguez. “I got really lucky to work with Dr. Komisar in small groups, and one-on-one quite often, and have established a long-term mentorship relationship.”

“Catarina’s work will provide a very important contribution to the literature in this area, and I am excited that she has chosen to continue to work with us,” says Komisar.

For Rodriguez, her focus now is on completing her undergraduate degree and working towards pursuing a Master’s. In the meantime, she is working with Komisar on developing some abstracts to present at upcoming conferences.

For more information about NSERC URSA opportunities, connect with a School of Engineering Academic Services Advisor. The dataset analyzed in this work was supported through a Canadian Institutes of Health Research, held by Dr. Novak; analysis was supported through UBCO funds and Rodriguez’s NSERC USRA. Rodriguez was also supported by UBCO’s Airborne Disease Transmission Research Cluster for a different project over the summer.

For more information about NSERC USRA opportunities, connect with a School of Engineering Academic Services Advisor.

Not very often does a student get recommended for a research role by an industry collaborator, but that is exactly how fourth-year Electrical Engineering student Joel Johnson began his NSERC’s Undergraduate Student Research Award program research with Electrical Engineering Professor Kenneth Chau and VO2 Master.

“Over the course of the summer, I discover that Joel’s attributes, derived from his competitive athletic background, perfectly aligned with pursuing positive research outcomes,” says Chau.

Johnson entered academia as a mature student, and during his time at UBC Okanagan, he has found a passion for micro-electronics and embedded solutions. “Working with Dr. Chau and the VO2Master team, I have been able to use my knowledge and gain new insights into designing cutting-edge technology to make a meaningful mark on the space.”

VO2 Master is an Okanagan-based company that has developed a portable lab-grade weight management and performance analysis tool. The researchers at the School of Engineering have been creating compact optical sensors that acquire physiological information and share it with a mobile application.

“This project facilitated by the USRA program enabled the team and I to really push the envelope on colorimetric and optical sensing,” explains Johnson. “The technology shows great promise for applications in health care and exercise science, and it’s so exciting to be a part of that.”

NSERC’s Undergraduate Student Research Award program develops students’ interest in a research career in the natural sciences and engineering. The research experience is intended to complement their studies in an academic setting.

Chau points to the USRA as providing an exploratory environment that allows students to do a lot of accelerated learning outside the classroom. “It creates a learning space which has no boundaries, if you want to try something or do something, it is up to the student and teacher to go explore.”

According to Chau, UBC Okanagan has fostered an environment that really encourages undergraduate research. “I have been shocked time and time again about how far undergrads can push research projects. Because of Joel’s contributions in this project, we are much further along than we would have been if he hadn’t have worked with us.”

“It is a great privilege to get to do research and push myself as part of this team,” says Johnson. “It is a great stepping stone to graduate studies and future research with industry (being a part of this team), and it really tied everything together as I look to my future.”

Johnson says Chau was a great source of insight during his USRA, and provided a support and direction throughout the research.

“I learned so much from Dr. Chau and the team at VO2 Master about design and analyzing the motivation and efficacy behind each design choice of research, so it was definitely an amazing learning experience.”

Both Chau and Johnson say there’s plenty of potential in utilizing phase sensitive detection and sensor arrays to improve the cost and form factor of VO2 breath analysis devices.

For more information about NSERC USRA opportunities, connect with a School of Engineering Academic Services Advisor.

Third-year Mechanical Engineering student Abigail Stokes never thought she’d find herself working with waste treatment sludge as she had aspired to work in the automotive or biomedical industry. Instead, as she starts her second-semester of third year, Stokes is well-ensconced in waste treatment sludge as an undergraduate researcher at UBC Okanagan’s Bioreactor Technology Group (BTG).

“A couple of years ago, I started working in the waste treatment industry, and by far it is the most exciting research experience I’d had,” says Stokes, who recently completed a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA) term at the BTG. “Waste is something that everyone has to deal with, and will become a bigger and bigger issue as we let it go.”

It is hard to miss the smell emanating from the BTG, but Stokes says the impact of the research far outweighs any initial concerns about that.

Inside the lab, bioreactors are continuously churning and mixing waste materials. Stokes works alongside Cigdem Eskicioglu, a Civil Engineering Professor and NSERC/Metro Vancouver Industrial Research Chair (IRC) in Resource Recovery from Wastewater.

“Abby’s work supports our on-going research program with Metro Vancouver where we are investigating the best approaches to convert human waste into transportation fuel,” explains Eskicioglu.

Eskicioglu points to USRA as an invaluable launching pad for undergraduates to explore research opportunities.  “For students with a real passion for research, this program provides them mentorship and an opportunity to nurture their passion.”

USRAs are also meant to encourage students to undertake graduate studies in their chosen field by providing research work experience that complements their studies in an academic setting.

Stokes has worked on several projects during her time at BTG through the USRA, and a co-op term. Over the summer, she worked alongside a PhD student to investigate the impacts of biochar amendment on biogas production in anaerobic digestion of municipal sludge.  She continued with the lab this term, as a co-op student, where she was part of the hydro-thermal liquefaction team. Using high-temperatures and pressure, the researchers have been working on anaerobic co-digestion for recovering bioenergy.

According to Stokes, the USRA and co-op have had a profound impact on her experience at UBC. “I’ve come to appreciate that it’s not just about the grade in a class but more about a greater vision to make some sort of impact in the world.” She says her grades have improved as a result of these research experiences, and she’s found a cohort of like-minded peers who have the same priorities.

With a focus on applying for graduate studies, Stokes plans on continuing her research with BTG as she completes her undergraduate degree.

For more information about NSERC USRA opportunities, connect with a School of Engineering Academic Services Advisor.

After a year that featured a virtual competition, as a result of the pandemic, the UBC Okanagan Concrete Toboggan team is ready to put their best sled forward at the 2022 event. While the sled and team are ready to compete, the latest wave of the pandemic has moved the competition online once again.

The Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race (GNCTR) is the largest and longest running undergraduate Engineering Competition in Canada. The 2022 event is the 48th anniversary of the competition. This year, competitors from across North America will converge virtually on Calgary February 2-5 to participate in a variety of competitive and social activities. GNCTR is a multidisciplinary challenge, where teams must construct a toboggan that can safely hold five riders with concrete running surfaces, fully functional steering and braking systems, a completely enclosed roll cage, and weigh less than 350lbs.

“Our team has done well in the past including at last year’s virtual competition where we had the lead steering mechanism and frame design,” says Club President Stephanie Mattson, who is in her fifth-year of Civil Engineering. “Two years ago in Toronto, we placed fourth out of twenty-five teams, and we took top spot in overall spirit three years ago.”

Members of the UBCO GNCTR include engineering students from all four programs (Civil, Electrical, Manufacturing, and Mechanical), but also include students from all other faculties as well. This year, the team includes two students from Management and an Arts student as well.

The team has been hard at work designing, testing and building the sled that will be compete in Calgary. After each competition, the club selects a new design team who spend the summer working out construction details. Once students return to campus in September, additional student members begin testing and assembling the sled within the Machine Shop and High-Head lab. By the end of January, the competition-ready sled is ready to be shipped to the event. Unfortunately, this year’s in-person competition was moved online due to the pandemic.

“What you end up learning as a member of concrete toboggan goes well-beyond the scope of what you learn in classes especially the hands-on opportunities; and the social component isn’t too bad either,” jokes fourth-year Electrical Engineering student Sean Worthington, the 2021/22 UBCO GNCTR Vice-President.

The competition is not all technical, it also has a strong social component as well. “This year, we had planned to be going as cows in ‘cowtown’,” explains Mattson. The judged competition is mainly based on technical and design components, but spirit awards are also handed out.

UBC Okanagan will host the 2023 GNCTR Competition at Big White next February. The campus last hosted the event in 2015. The 2023 organizing committee includes members of this year’s team, past GNCTR presidents, and alumni.

According to Mattson, the focus right now is on the next few weeks leading up to this year’s competition. “We are so excited for the opportunity to network and compete with students from across the country, and maybe pick up a trophy along the way.”

For more information about UBCO GNCTR visit or follow them on Instagram @ ubcognctr

Effective February 1, 2022, Dr. Rehan Sadiq will serve as UBC Okanagan’s Provost and Vice-President, Academic pro tem.

Dr. Sadiq is an exceptional member of our faculty who is an extraordinary teacher, researcher, and administrator who leads by example. He is a leader within his academic field, and garners national and international recognition for his research. He is a Professor of Civil Engineering and a Distinguished University Scholar and currently holds the position of Executive Associate Dean in the School of Engineering at UBC Okanagan. He is also a co-lead of the Life Cycle Management Laboratory at UBC.

A Professional Engineer with Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia since 2009, Dr. Sadiq serves on the Pakistan Engineering Council. He has been a member of the Canadian Society of Civil Engineering (CSCE) since 2012, and was named a CSCE Fellow in 2021. Dr. Sadiq is also a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering (FCAE). In 2021, he was named a University of British Columbia Distinguished Scholar (DSU). The prestigious DUS program recognizes members of UBC Faculty who have distinguished themselves as exceptional scholars including significant impact in the field, received international recognition as leaders in the field, a superior record in attracting and supervising students and trainees.

Dr Sadiq’s dynamic leadership of the School of Engineering has played an instrumental role in establishing the School as a beacon for both engineering education and research, emphasizing student experience and innovation in research.

While Dr. Sadiq takes on this important role, the Faculty of Applied Science Dean’s Office will provide additional support for Dr. Lukas Bichler (Director, pro tem) and the SOE leadership team during the transition.

See full announcements:

The roar of a turbine outside is a consistent and frequent sound that seems to energize the workstations inside the engineering department at KF Aerospace. Headquartered in Kelowna, KF provides heavy maintenance and modifications to aviation customers from around the world. The company completes over 1-million maintenance hours every year on more than 300 projects. Alongside its team of skilled technicians, KF also boasts an aerospace engineering team that features several UBC Okanagan engineering alumni and co-op students.

For engineering students at UBC Okanagan, the sound of planes taking off and landing on the other side of highway 97 at the Kelowna International Airport can be inspiring. Connor Badowich completed his BASc (’16) and MASc (’19) in Electrical Engineering at UBC Okanagan. His ambition from the time he was a kid was to become of an astronaut, and that journey led him to KF Aerospace.

“I feel very lucky to have found a role at this type of company, especially here in the Okanagan,” explains Badowich. “Since I came to UBCO, I have fallen in love with the region and everything it offers.”

Upon graduation, Badowich considered employers like Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, and Bombardier, but it was his familiarity with the Okanagan and the opportunities that KF Aerospace provided that drew him to his current role. He attended a career fair, were he had the  opportunity to network with some of KF’s engineers. “After connecting with those engineers, I pursued a role persistently and jumped at the opportunity (to work here) when it was presented.”

As a Project Engineer in the Avionics department, Badowich works with customers on a project-to-project basis. Often aircraft arrive at KF Aerospace for maintenance, and the Project Engineering team looks after upgrades requested by customers that can be done concurrently with the maintenance. “We define the scope and requirements of the customer’s request, and then design a solution that meets those requirements.” Often the avionics team designs, installs and tests new equipment within the existing aircraft architecture.

According to Badowich, their location at the airport provides the perfect environment to undertake this work. “There is a lot of troubleshooting involved in connecting new systems within older aircraft, so we regularly head into the hangar and make adjustments or work through problems with technicians inside the aircraft.”

He also points to the importance of engineering fundamentals to the work he does today. “Anytime modifications are made to an aircraft, electrical load analysis and antenna pattern/frequency assessments are required to ensure these changes meet Transportation Canada’s requirements and receive appropriate approval.”

For as long as he can remember, Pradeep Pugalendhi has been fascinated by aviation. “What’s there not to like about a 100,000 lbs machine flying through the air?” Pugalendhi grew up in Lethbridge, AB and still remembers the first time he saw a CF-18 Hornet at the Lethbridge International Air Show. He’s been hooked on aviation ever since.

Pugalendhi graduated from UBC Okanagan’s School of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering in June 2021. Prior to that, he completed an Engineering Technology diploma from NAIT, and transferred to UBC through the Camosun College bridge program. During his fourth year, one of his professors, Dr. Sina Kheirkhah, suggested he apply for an internship at KF. That internship has led to a full-time role as a Project Engineer.

Pugalendhi works in the structures side of KF’s project engineering, where the engineering fundamentals and project management skills he developed at UBC Okanagan are put into action. “My time at UBC really helped me gain the skills to problem solve, and my mechanical knowledge has been a crucial foundation for what I do today.”

With an eye on moving into management, Pugalendhi is continuing to develop the skills necessary to pursue that path.

KF Aerospace also offers co-op opportunities for engineering students. Just a few cubicles down from the desks of Badowich and Pugalendhi is Gary Todd who is a fourth-year electrical engineering co-op student in the Avionics department at KF.

Both KF Aerospace and UBC Okanagan are engines for the Okanagan economy, and continue to develop opportunities for collaboration. From co-op programs to research and employment, the future for both continues on an upward trajectory.

For Badowich, KF Aerospace is a terrific place to call home. “KF is an incredibly supportive company that provides so many opportunities for its employees, and is behind you to ensure those opportunities take flight.”

Shayan Sheikhi Narani, who is currently pursuing a PhD in civil engineering at UBC Okanagan’s School of Engineering, was recently awarded a SRK Canada Graduate Scholarship for the 2021/22 academic year. The scholarship is intended to encourage and support post-graduate studies in fields related to the mining industry. Recipients are chosen based on their academic achievement, industry experience, and the area of research.

Narani is supervised by Associate Professor Sumi Siddiqua in the School of Engineering’s CFI-funded Advanced Geomaterials Testing lab where they undertake research related to the reuse of industry by-products, carbon capture and storage, climate change mitigation, energy pipelines, chemical stabilization of road subgrade materials, soil nano-particles, and soil-water chemistry.

Recently, he and Dr. Siddiqua published research related to fiber-reinforced soil where they analyzed the resiliency of soil reinforcement (using waste tire products) to improve engineering properties of soils prior to construction. The article was published this month in the Journal Measurement.

SRK Canada is an independent, international consultancy providing solutions to clients, mainly in the earth and water resource industries.

School of Engineering Executive Associate Dean Rehan Sadiq among the 2022 Fellows inducted by the Canadian Institute of Engineering (EIC).

The Engineering Institute of Canada, founded in 1887, recently announced the recipients of its 2022 senior engineering awards and fellowship inductees. Dr. Sadiq is among 20 outstanding engineers being inducted as 2022 EIC Fellows for their exceptional contributions to engineering in Canada.

Dr. Sadiq is a Professional Engineer with Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia since 2009 and serves on the Pakistan Engineering Council. He has been a member of the Canadian Society of Civil Engineering (CSCE) since 2012, and was named a CSCE Fellow in 2021.  Dr. Sadiq is also a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering (FCAE). In 2021, Dr. Sadiq was named a University of British Columbia Distinguished Scholar.

With a proven track-record of more than 20-years of outstanding research, and based on his current research output, Dr. Sadiq continues to ranked in the top 2% of cited scientists worldwide according to a science-wide author databases of standardized citation indicators report prepared by Stanford University.

Dr. Sadiq is driven by a passion to ensure that clean water is available to everyone. His exceptional teaching, academic leadership and research accomplishments are a testament to his deep compassion for others, and his desire to safeguard and sustain water supplies to ensure their equitable distribution to all.

The 2022 EIC awards are scheduled to be presented along with 2021 and 2020 awards at the next EIC Gala/ Banquet which, pandemic circumstances allowing, will be held in-person in Ottawa on April 30, 2022.

School of Engineering Post-Doctoral Fellow Chinchu Cherian was recently recognized at the 2021 UBC Okanagan Postdoc Research Day.

The event was organized by UBC Okanagan’s Postdoctoral Association in collaboration with UBC Vancouver’s Postdoctoral Association and supported by the UBC Okanagan’s College of Graduate Studies. Dr. Cherian received the event’s best presentation award for her presentation titled “Evaluating the use of wood ash residue from Canadian pulp mills for stabilization of burnt forest soils- A novel method to increase resilience to wildfires and landslides.” The presentation provided an overview of her research investigating the viability of wood ash, a pulp mill waste by-product, for long-term stabilization of wildfire-impacted forest soils.

Dr. Cherian is supervised by Dr. Sumi Siddiqua at UBC Okanagan’s Advanced Geomaterials Testing Lab.