Joshua Stroh, BASC '18, School Of Engineering
"One of the first things I say when I am asked what I have gotten out of this degree, is that I now know I can learn and do anything I want in life, it just takes a little bit of time and effort."
After finishing high school in my home town of Kamloops, I was unsure of the career path that would best suit my aptitude for mathematics and my curiosity for how everything we use day-to-day is made. After eight months travelling around Central America and six months living at Sun Peaks ski resort, I was ready to pursue my ambitious goals. Four short and highly demanding years later I have received a BASc in mechanical engineering, made amazing friends and unforgettable memories, such as building a racecar with the UBCO Motorsports club, and conducted highly advanced metallurgical research using neutron diffraction at the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories in Ontario. The past four years have fostered my interest in alloy development and characterization for the automotive and marine industries and has led me to further my education with the masters/PhD program at UBC Okanagan.
Why did you choose engineering?
I have always excelled in math and physics and have had a continuous desire to learn anything about everything. As I was comparing various careers — from welding to executive chef — and trying to decide which of these would best suit my ambitious life goals, it seemed to me that all of these careers could be mastered with practice alone. That was until I began looking into the complexity and diverse opportunities that mechanical engineering offered. Along with my interest in how materials were made and how engineers construct complex automotive marvels, I knew that engineering was the right career to pursue.
What has been your most memorable/valuable non-academic experience studying engineering at UBC?
By far my most memorable experience of my undergraduate degree at UBC Okanagan was building and competing with the UBCO Motorsports club’s student built racecar. I joined the club in my third year at UBCO and was lucky to have had the opportunity to be a part of a three-day road trip to Michigan that was filled with long driving days, crammed hotel rooms, and cheap American doughnuts. The following four days consisted of modifying, zip-tying and taping all kinds of components onto the racecar, and a lot of team bonding, as we competed against 120 other university teams from all over the world. It was an amazing experience that made me realise how much more I needed to learn about design and construction. I am excited to remain with the team as I continue into my graduate studies.
What has made your time at the School of Engineering most memorable?
Other than my time with UBCO Motorsports club, the research I conducted under the supervision of my extremely intelligent and experienced supervisor, Dr. Sediako, has made my time at the School of Engineering most memorable. I can easily say that Dr. Sediako is one of the most influential people in my life, and I consider him to be a role model for me. I have been extremely fortunate to have conducted several solidification and residual stress analyses using neutron diffraction on highly advance aluminum alloys, engine blocks, and Mercury Marine motor casings at the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories in Ontario. Being surrounded by highly educated people conducting extremely interesting and precise experiments throughout the nuclear reactor is one of the experiences that began my interest in pursuing graduate studies.
What advice would you give a student considering engineering?
Be prepared for some long days, a bit of frustration and years of everlasting memories with new friends. I cannot imagine a more rewarding program, not only for a career but also for life. One of the first things I say when I am asked what I have gotten out of this degree, is that I now know I can learn and do anything I want in life, it just takes a little bit of time and effort.
Where do you find your inspiration?
A huge part of my inspiration comes from my supervisor, Dr. Sediako. After hearing some of the struggles that Dr. Sediako encountered throughout his career and the many accomplishments that have followed, I know that with a lot of hard work and a little sacrifice, anything can be done.
My parents are also an immense part of my inspiration to work hard and succeed. I have been extremely fortunate to have such a supportive and loving family that has provided me more opportunities and experiences than I could have ever hoped for. I constantly remind myself that putting in hard work now may allow me to provide my future family with the life my parents were able to give me.
What are your plans for the future?
Upon completion of my Bachelor of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering, I will commence a fast-tracked Master of Applied Science at UBC Okanagan that will most likely be transitioning into a PhD program. This is very exciting as I will be the first of my family to complete a graduate studies program. My research will be primarily focusing on next generation alloy development for applications in the automotive, marine and aerospace industries. After completing my university and research studies I will be seeking to fulfill my ambitious dreams by applying to highly innovating automotive, marine or aerospace companies (such as Koenigsegg, Mercury Marine, or Boeing) who strive to do the impossible and who continuously push the boundaries of mechanical engineering.