Choose differently and act creatively

“Strive as much as possible to get yourself out of comfort zones and embrace new people, fresh environment, and cultural diversity.”

Cynric Li

Cynric Li

  • Degree: Bachelor of Applied Science
  • Grad year: 2021
  • Program: Integrated Engineering
  • Campus: Vancouver

Hi guys, this is Cynric, born and raised in the ‘Hot-Pot’ city, Chongqing, China. I just graduated from UBC with a Bachelor’s Degree of Applied Science in Integrated Engineering. I had that desire to study abroad after winning the first prize in the Technology Young Pioneer Program, which is a program that broadens students’ field of view in the STEM field during my high school period. I have been a fan of vehicles, aircrafts as well as other state-of-the-art technologies for years and finally had the opportunity to study at UBC to deepen my level of interest in 2016. Four years of getting involved in the UBC community in both academic and extracurricular ways and one year of working at the R&D center of a vehicle company professionally has built up my career goals to apply what I have gained from classes and life experiences to solve more problems relevant to our society while pursuing my own interests at the same time. I love being ‘cultured’ by different kinds of new things including food, lifestyle, new culture, and fresh knowledge. All of those amazing new things and challenges that I have encountered completed my five-year UBC life.

Why did you choose to go into your field of study at UBC?

Prior to coming to UBC, the first time I heard about this school was from one of my sisters who graduated from UBC with a Bachelor’s Degree of Arts In Political Science at the age of fifteen. She showed me some photos taken during her study period, and I was absolutely astonished and attracted by the view and landscape at my first glance! I then started to search this university online and noticed that the engineering and science programs UBC provided are largely popular and have a strong reputation not only in North America, but also all over the world. As I began to apply for universities in the second year of high school, I decided to apply for the UBC engineering program and just gave it a try, even though I knew the application would be extremely competitive. Fortunately, I was accepted eventually. Besides, I do agree that studying is important during university life, but studying is not everything. So, another reason why I chose to attend UBC was because of its diversity, which allows me to make friends from different countries and have the chance to learn their culture as well as their stories.

What has made your time at UBC memorable?

The best moments of my UBC life are countless, and of course, those moments are unforgettable as well. One of the remarkable moments would be the time I worked at UBC IT Department as a Work and Learn student during my spare time on campus. I worked at UBC IT Department for almost three years from 2018 to 2021, under the direct supervision and mentorship of the UBC IT Audio Visual Support team in a professional and motivating environment. During work, I interacted with different staff and faculty members in various capacities and roles across campus, building client relationship skills and practicing strategic thinking.

Another memorable moment would be the time I spent in some volunteering programs. I volunteered in an elementary school during one of the reading breaks and had the opportunity to teach students some fundamental engineering knowledge. I have really enjoyed those moments interacting with kids in class and listening to their voices and thoughts towards STEM fields. I found out that sometimes the only thing we need to do to attract children’s attention is to prepare a simple and easy-understanding science experiment before classes.

Besides, I have shared lots of enjoyable and remarkable moments with my best friends at UBC. The moment we faced difficulties during our studies, the moment we came up with amazing ideas and solutions, the moment we ran to get a coffee between lectures, the moment we had fun off campus and explored authentic food in Vancouver.

Tell us about your experience in your program. What have you learned that is most valuable?

I made my mind to choose Integrated Engineering (IGEN) right after I attended UBC Engineering First Year Program Fair. During that fair, some students from the senior year introduced me to how IGEN is different from other engineering programs and what makes IGEN so unique at UBC. IGEN provides students with a wide range of course selections where students have the chance to choose their ‘major/major’ or ‘major/minor’ from almost every traditional engineering stream as they enter their senior year of study. In addition to those technical engineering courses, IGEN allows students to participate in an entrepreneurship course as well and students can combine engineering knowledge with business ideas to target niche markets. But! What attracts me most about IGEN are the 8-month-long engineering project design courses from the second year to the fourth year. I had the opportunity to work in different roles with different students from IGEN to design a multidisciplinary engineering project yearly, and this experience absolutely highlighted my IGEN life! Although IGEN is a relatively small program/community compared to other engineering streams, the people I have met along with the experiences I have had in IGEN cannot be described by just using several words or sentences. I cherish the friends that I have made in IGEN, and I appreciate all the help they provided to make me a better person.

How are you applying the skills you learned through your studies at UBC?

There are two types of critical skills I could summarize after my studies at UBC. One is technical skills, and the other is behavioural skills, and in terms of the importance of two types of skills, I would definitely vote for behavioural skills. Behavioural skills represent how I deal with different things with correct values and how I treat people around me politely. I love to make friends within the UBC community and there is no doubt that my professors and friends taught me a lot about those behavioural skills which I will consistently apply to my working environment and my life. Technical skills were gained through classes, projects, as well as the process of collaborating with my teammates yearly, and technical skills are more objective than behavioural skills since most of the answers are fixed. And I wish to implement those ‘fixed’ skills to solve real engineering problems if possible.

What advice would you give a student entering your degree program?

Try your best to attend every single lecture, otherwise, you will spend more time than you expect to make up the missing materials from lectures. I believe students who choose to attend IGEN do have special mindsets and attitudes towards their life and future plans. So, try to get involved in the IGEN community as much as you can, and make full use of the resources that you have access to. Lastly, try to challenge yourself often and do not run away from difficulties that you will come across during your studies and life.

How do you feel your degree has benefitted you compared to a different field of study?

Before attending IGEN, my initial ideal degree program was Electrical Engineering. The Electrical Engineering program is without a doubt a nice program and lots of people choose to attend the program because of its academic and research reputation. Integrated Engineering is a relatively newer program compared to Electrical Engineering at UBC and this gives the impression that students who are graduating with an IGEN degree have less of an advantage if they are going to either find a job or continue their studies in a Master’s Program after graduation. The truth is that based on my experiences, IGEN has benefitted me both academically and professionally. Students from IGEN are not limited to one specific engineering area only. I was exposed to different kinds of core courses from almost every other engineering faculty including electrical, civil, computer engineering, and so on. IGEN provided me with different perspectives of solving different engineering problems and I am able to come up with unique solutions logically and comprehensively. What’s more, IGEN prepared me well for my first two engineering jobs on campus and off campus because of all the technical projects I have done with different IGEN friends.

What are your future plans to make a difference in our world?

This question is a little bit challenging. Making a difference in the world requires a clear career goal, sufficient knowledge reserve, and of course, the most important, continuous hard work in a specific engineering area or field. Currently, I am planning to attend the Master’s Program in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Toronto – Institute of Aerospace Studies. I wish to dig deeper into the aerospace and autonomous-related areas and focus on either autonomous vehicle design or autonomous aerospace vehicle design after my Master’s degree. I personally love to implement what I have learned from classes and projects to solve those complex engineering problems related to our society and hopefully, in the future, I will have the chance to get involved in projects which are relevant to automobile or aerospace vehicles to make people’s life much easier by improving existing technology while protecting our environment. I always believe in the saying "the one and only goal of technology development is always to serve and benefit people and our society," and I will stick to that idea and try to make a difference in what I end up working with.

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