Marc Apduhan, BASc '17, Chemical and Biological Engineering
Engineering focuses a lot on solving complex problems and simplifying them. What you’ll soon find is sometimes there is no exact solution, only one that you can answer to the best of your abilities based on important facts and what you know.
Hello curious friends, my name is Marc Apduhan, a Chemical and Biological Engineering Student here at UBC and I am a critical thinker. Some quick things about me: I am passionate about sustainable initiatives, love reading about languages, finding deals and café-hunting. This year, I have been involved in a few programs in Applied Science including Engineering Co-op (both as a participant and as a program assistant), CHBE Council (as industry coordinator), Tri-Mentoring Program (as an upper year mentor and mentee), Work-Learn (as a laboratory assistant), Imagine Day (as an Orientation/Squad Leader for the 5th year in a row), Research (as an undergraduate thesis candidate) and Engineers Without Borders (EWB) (as co-founder of Sustainability Venture and co-president of the club) amongst other things. I became involved in these initiatives because of how enriching it was to my undergraduate experience. You obtain connections, skills and a new way of thinking. For the future, I hope to continue to stay curious, asking the tough questions and finding that delicate balance between eco-, socio-, and techno- to create a world where the holistic mindset of sustainability, productivity and social responsibility is instinctively seen in different levels when approaching life in general. Stay curious, friends.
Why did you choose engineering?
When I found out you needed an engineering degree (amongst other degrees and things) to go to outer space. In all seriousness, where I grew up (shout-out to those in Surrey, BC), the University of British Columbia was a respected school many aspired to go to — and it had a high-quality engineering program. I chose to go into engineering for a few reasons: it’s a rewarding undergraduate experience (both during and after your degree), it allows you to help people and you can get creative with engineering.
What has made your time at UBC the most memorable?
My involvement in programs such as Engineering Co-op, CHBE Undergraduate Club, EUS, Work-Learn and Engineers without Borders (EWB) has made my time here the most memorable. I figured this would be the case, because these spaces are where you find your niche, where you find like-minded people and where you can get *ahem* free food.
EWB especially has made my time at UBC memorable. Oftentimes EWB bridges the gap between technical and social aspects of engineering. The impact this launching-pad organization has will be felt for many years to come largely because of the people and knowledge I’ve immersed myself in.
What have you learned that is most valuable?
Things are not the same each year. For me, first year was about making connections, finding yourself and learning everything there was to know about engineering. Second year, it was about scoping your vision and learning what there is to know about what you specifically want to do. In third year it was about nurturing the connections you’ve made and practicing and improving upon everything you’ve learnt so far. Finally in your last year, it’s about making the most out of your degree. Insert a few work-terms and study-terms abroad in between your first and your last year and you’ve got yourself a diploma.
The most valuable lesson for me was realizing the interconnectivity of things. Engineering focuses a lot on solving complex problems and simplifying them. What you’ll soon find is sometimes there is no exact solution, only one that you can answer to the best of your abilities based on important facts and what you know. Taking into account how different parts contribute to the whole will assist you in your decision-making.
How are you applying the skills you learned through your studies at UBC?
Applying your skills can be manifested in many different ways at UBC. I used co-op, capstone, work-learn, design teams, EWB and my thesis to apply my skills. Every engineering student should get involved with these opportunities throughout their undergraduate degree. Looking into both the technical and social aspect of the engineering degree is also important. Ahem, “Global Engineering at EWB.”
What has been your most memorable/valuable non-academic experience studying engineering at UBC?
I’m going to say an academic example anyway.
Academically, it was being part of a capstone team that showed great tenacity and an aspiration to achieve high-quality work – be it in the laboratory, in the design room, or outside of scholastics. In the end, we managed to get first place in the Bio Option for our Capstone, which was “the Commercialized Synthesis of Medical-Grade Polyhydroxybutyrate Using Apoptosis Regulated Recombinant E. Coli.” It was fulfilling to say the least.
Work-wise, it was learning from amazing professors like Dr. Baldwin and Dr. Creagh where I applied my knowledge of chemical and biological engineering in immersive laboratories. Building my own reactors, making my own solutions and working for the lab was enriching to my understanding.
Spare-time wise, it was working in different ventures in Engineers Without Borders. I was involved in co-founding the sustainability venture, where we tackled food waste and renewable energy issues, hosted meaningful workshops and collaborations at UBC. There are many great ventures with EWB including Advocacy, Youth Engagement, Member Learning, African Programs, Evolving Engineering, Fair Trade and the list goes on.
Overall, the most valuable part of studying engineering at UBC are the different types of people you meet. Such a diverse group of people, with different perspectives and experiences, all working towards getting the same engineering accreditation.
What advice would you give a student considering engineering?
You can never go wrong with an engineering degree. That being said, it takes a lot of commitment, time-management and hard work to get there. Don’t see your learning as an obstacle, but as an experience. The more you see how you can apply your learning outside of the classroom, the better it will be for you. Last but not least, prioritize your health and learn how to say no. There is an overwhelming amount of involvement on campus, it’s important to sift through the ones you truly care about the most.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Any outside source is an inspiration. From hearing people’s stories, influence from my friends and family, watching the news, reading a book, listening to a podcast, to playing a video game. It can get pretty overwhelming! Having an active mind is good.
What are your plans for the future?
Immediate: I’m passionate about environmental issues. I’ll be working with Hemmera as an Environmental Engineer in training, working on Sites Investigation and Remediation throughout Western Canada. I’m excited to grow with this company and test my knowledge in coordinating different field programs. I’ll also stay involved with EWB, helping the Sustainability Venture grow and develop with the other strong ventures.
Long-term I’m working on a few things, including: assistance in the development of a food redistribution application, develop my specialty in Chemical and Biological Engineering in the environmental consulting industry and continue learning!
How will you go on to make a difference in our world?
Finding that delicate balance between eco-, socio- and techno- to create a world where the holistic mindset of sustainability, productivity and social responsibility is instinctively seen in different levels when approaching the world’s problems and finding its solutions.