Hossein Montazerian, MASc '18, School of Engineering
"Throughout my career in research, I always strive to make a big impact. "
I joined UBC’s Okanagan campus in September 2016 to do a Master of Mechanical Engineering. Throughout my career in research, I always strive to make a big impact. Fortunately, the Faculty of Applied Science at UBCO taught me how to ask big questions and tackle them by looking at the big picture. In pursuit of making the world a better place, I followed an interdisciplinary research on artificial 3D printed bones to enhance the treatment of patients with bone-related issues and diseases. In addition, the Composites Research Network (CRN) and Advanced Thermofluidic (ATFL) laboratories provided me with an extensive hands-on experience and furthered my knowledge on the newfangled wearable and embedded sensing technologies for structural applications. In this journey, I found my passion in bridging the gap between engineers of different disciplines and medical doctors, by collaborating in research groups consisting of a diverse range of expertise.
What have you learned in engineering that is most valuable?
Contributing to two labs as a graduate student taught me that we can more effectively push the envelope of science and technology through effective teamwork and communication. Collaborating with students at different levels at UBC has strengthened my leadership skills and helped me become a better mentor for my next career.
How do you feel a degree in engineering has benefitted you compared to a different field of study?
In engineering you can easily combine different disciplines. It was extremely exciting and rewarding for me to work in an unbounded environment where I could incorporate and apply my knowledge of different disciplines to a series of research projects. Although seemingly very different, I was able to apply techniques from porous bone replacements to smart sensor embedded composite structures. In my opinion, the School of Engineering at UBC Okanagan successfully and effectively provides opportunities of interdisciplinary research to students. By bringing different disciplines together they help facilitate communications between students and scholars in a variety of cutting-edge research fields.
What advice would you give a student considering engineering?
Think big! And do things that distinguish you from your peers. If you are an undergraduate student (whether in engineering or any other discipline) begin by imagining yourself as a graduate student while you learn the principles of your field. I strongly believe that those who become familiar with how to implement research in the lab and present their findings early on in their undergraduate studies, will have by far higher chances of finding their way to the top research and industrial centers in the world. So, I highly encourage newcomers not to wait to learn the basics and then start research; it’s best to start right away with simple research problems that you can learn and practice at the same time. Find your passion, learn scientific writing and presentation skills (getting inspiration from others’ work can help a lot) and most importantly, do research in the areas and labs that you feel from the bottom of your heart will continually make you motivated and successful.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Nature is always the best teacher, and the most stunning examples of engineering design mimic those of Mother Nature. I believe the world that we live in has the solution to many engineering problems, which is why I often ponder how nature can be imitated to achieve our desires. I also get a lot of ideas when I read research papers; I feel that when critically analysing scientific challenges, your brain is more active and able to cope with that challenge, and can trigger new ideas if you stick with the problem.
What are your plans for the future?
Consulting with faculty at UBC Okanagan has helped me find my true passion and enthusiasm for research and has also answered some questions regarding my field. Given my past experience in research labs, I know my future will be in academic and research-based environments, as I am now even more confident and excited about the way science and engineering can change people’s lives. After graduation, I will begin my PhD in engineering to build upon my previous knowledge and prepare myself to transfer my knowledge to new breakthrough research challenges that will have wide-reaching effects on the communities around me.
How will you go on to make a difference in our world?
Looking at the experience of the most prominent researchers in my area (including my unique supervisors at UBC) I think that to make a difference in our world you must focus your efforts on tackling today’s challenges while paving the road for future potential problem solutions. One way to excel at anticipating future needs is to keep informed of the progress made at the forefront in your discipline. However, this should not become a barrier to your innovation and generation of other ideas. Rather, it can be a worthwhile source of inspiration when it comes to brainstorming and devising future plans. With this picture in mind, I will try to move forward while I keep in touch with world-class research groups and industrial partners to push the science generated in the labs towards practice and bringing them into the market.