Kwan Fung, BASc '19, Mining Engineering
“At the end of a project it is not enough to just hand in your deliverables ... your ability to present and synthesize information in front of your manager or professor is often what separates your work from the rest."
My journey in mining started because of curiosity, but is now shaped by passion and purpose. Prior to university, I had almost zero knowledge of mining and only visited a mine once. Over the next six years, I completed over two years of internships at Shell and Suncor, competed nationally at the Canadian Mining Games competition, and internationally at the Move Mining competition. Throughout my academic and work experiences, friends and relatives always asked me what mining is and what is it that I do; I began to realize that many people were like me (before entering UBC) and had little to no idea of what mining is, or its relevant to modern-day society. In the last year of my studies, I created this short video to inform first-years what mining engineering is about and to encourage them to pursue this exciting field. I also entered a contest called Move Mining — which aims to change the public perception of mining — with two fellow mining engineers. We submitted our concept Mine2Me, which employs a series of animated infographic videos to educate the public on the usage of mined commodities, safety and technological advancements in the industry, as well the environmental conservation efforts made. After securing first place, the contest winnings and another sponsorship, my team and I continue to work towards changing the public perception of the mining industry which is often misunderstood and characterized by misinformation.
Why did you choose engineering?
I wanted to pursue an intellectually stimulating career that will make a tangible difference to the world. Furthermore, I have always been interested in learning how things work, and more importantly, what purposes they serve in the bigger picture. Putting all this together, choosing engineering was a natural choice. As for why I chose mining engineering, refer to the video that I made.
What has made your time at UBC the most memorable?
The people. I still remember first year, when everybody would rally for each other before and after each midterm. Many professors here at UBC have the magical ability to turn mundane subjects into exciting lectures. Finally, all the different students from all faculties that I have met through different clubs and events have helped make the good times even better. I would highly recommend trying to put yourself out there as much possible as you never know what wonderful people you will meet.
What have you learned in engineering that is most valuable?
To be successful in engineering, having good technical skills is a minimum requirement. Time and time again, through school and work experience, I came to realize that soft skills can also define my value as an engineer. At the end of a project it is not enough to just hand in your deliverables by attaching your work files in an email; your ability to present and synthesize information in front of your manager or professor is often what separates your work from the rest.
How do you feel a degree in engineering has benefitted you compared to a different field of study?
The industry specific knowledge, the problem-solving skillet and the quantitative rigor of an engineering degree are highly transferable to other careers. For example, engineers are well-regarded in law due to their problem-solving skills, in business as consultants due to problem solving and quantitative abilities, and in humanities as content creators due to industry knowledge. Having strong foundational technical skills as an engineer will allow you to explore multiple career opportunities within an industry that you are passionate about.
What are your plans for the future?
After exams, I will go on UBC Mining’s 2019 Graduate Research trip to Sweden and Finland for two weeks. The companies in Sweden and Finland provide some of the most cutting-edge technologies for the mining industry (think automation, 5G, IoT etc.), so that will be a great learning experience. Afterwards, I will begin my Engineer-In-Training rotation at Suncor Energy as a short range mine planning engineer in Fort McMurray.
In the long-term, I look forward to getting my P.Eng designation. In terms of specializing in an area, I hope to do something related to creating a low carbon future. Innovation and technology are hot topics right now for the industry, but closure planning is also an area that I have great interest in. I think that as I spend more time in the mining industry and take inventory of my skillsets, I will gain greater clarity on what career path will make sense the most.
How will you go on to make a difference in our world?
In the short term, I will continue our Mine2Me initiative to change the public’s perception of an industry that’s already changing the world. As the world looks to transition to a low carbon future, I think there will be an abundance of technical, business, legal and social challenges that will need to be addressed, and I hope to be a part of this transition through ensuring sustainable mining.
View more 2019 Student Stars at apsc.ubc.ca/students/stars/2019.