“Do not be afraid to fail, do not be afraid to ask for help, do not jeopardize your physical or mental health, and most importantly do not give up.”
- Degree: Bachelor of Applied Science
- Grad year: 2019
- Program: Civil Engineering
- Campus: Vancouver
Arpan Kandola was born and raised in Kelowna, British Columbia. He is a civil engineering graduate with a passion for tech, philanthropy and entrepreneurship. From a career-ending ACL injury that halted his journey as a competitive athlete to losing his father in 2017, Arpan has worked hard in the face of adversity to complete his degree and excel academically despite the many setbacks faced in the process. He is excited to take on the next chapter in life and encourage prospective students to study engineering.
Why did you choose engineering?
Leaving high school as a competitive rugby, football and soccer player, the world of sports fascinated me. So, I entered my first year as a science student with hopes of pursuing a career in sports medicine; however, I quickly realized that the only course I enjoyed and excelled at was calculus. So, I transferred into engineering and was immediately captivated by it. Courses such as APSC 171 and 169 allowed me to develop innovative real-life solutions. As well, it provided the opportunity to work with enthusiastic and intelligent individuals that helped open my mind to new perspectives.
What have you learned in engineering that is most valuable?
It pushes your limits and shapes you into becoming a great problem solver and time manager through the many opportunities to be able to analyze real world problems and come up with creative solutions. The learning nature at the School of Engineering is very practical with the smaller class sizes, and it provides the ability to form strong relationships with professors, advisors, and other faculty members. It challenges you to think outside of the box and teaches you a way to think that can be applied to various fields — not just engineering. One of the biggest takeaways for myself was to better understand my strengths and weaknesses through the many projects completed. As well, to engage with other students, creating a positive classroom environment of working together that allowed me to experience the opportunity of other student perspectives in various analytical situations. The co-op program is a great example of an experience that teaches students practical problem solving and allows students to be in an environment with professionals in their fields. I am blessed to have the many mentors that I had the opportunity to be with during my 18-months of co-op.
What has been your most memorable non-academic experience studying engineering at UBC?
The co-op program was one of the most memorable experiences at UBC and has prepared me well for the real world. It provided an opportunity to gain hands on experience and determine which field of work interests me most. Now I can confidently pursue that after graduation.
In my last year of engineering, and with the help of some incredible people, I founded a non-profit organization called Mind of Mine Foundation; it focuses on education and awareness-building around mental health. It received a lot of support from faculty, friends, peers and the community and we were able to connect with the mental health community and work closely with remarkable individuals in the psychology department on campus. The first event was a mental health forum that took place on Bell Let’s Talk Day with several professionals in the mental health field from the Okanagan and had over 250 people in attendance and was sponsored by the School of Engineering. Through this experience, many were able to see how many resources are available for students who might be struggling with issues of their own such as the wellbeing walk-in clinic on campus, Foundry, Third Space and more.
Lastly, one of the most memorable moments of my degree was being able to explore entrepreneurship@UBC and Accelerate Okanagan. As an entrepreneur myself, I was able to gain the necessary support and guidance to start my first venture. I was able to put forward one of my ideas and form a team to execute. Proximy is a web-based application that was founded in my last year of engineering. It serves the purpose of solving the issues of loneliness by connecting users to other users, groups, and events based on their personal interests and proximity. Currently the application is in beta-testing phase and the entire Proximy team is very excited to take the venture to the next level.
What advice would you give a student considering engineering?
It is a difficult journey shared with incredible people. There will be days you want to give up or drop out because you feel you are not good or smart enough. Take time to invest in yourself and opportunities on the way. An engineering degree provides a great foundation of thinking that allows you to build on in your real-life experiences. Do not be afraid to fail, do not be afraid to ask for help, do not jeopardize your physical or mental health, and most importantly do not give up.
Where do you find your inspiration?
As a child, I was always surrounded by entrepreneurial energy of my two immigrant parents, who always worked so hard to support our family. My family is my inspiration, and I work hard everyday to represent them the best I can. After losing my father in 2017, responsibilities and priorities in my personal life changed completely, allowing me to recognize the importance of the finer aspects in life and love for the world. However, it also allowed me to recognize how short life is: seeing what my father was able to do has always inspired me to become the absolute best version of myself and make the most out of my own life.
How will you go on to make a difference in our world?
I hope to make a difference by continuing the journey on ending the stigma around mental health through Mind of Mine Foundation. As well, to help grow Proximy into a global application and solve the issues of loneliness. As an entrepreneur with a background in engineering, I hope to use my education from the School of Engineering to continue innovating and creating unique solutions to various problems.