Meet Milind Pandit, B.A.Sc. '15, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Milind Pandit
"I receive true satisfaction from practicing engineering when I know that my contributions to the field have benefitted people worldwide."

What has made your time at UBC the most memorable?

I feel UBC has provided me with many opportunities to go above and beyond my curriculum. I have enhanced my degree here with research experience, involvement with Engineers without Borders and Fairtrade advocacy on campus, and exchange and conferences abroad. It is not a single event that makes my time here at UBC memorable but experience and learnings from all my involvement that I will cherish. I am grateful to UBC for granting me these opportunities while nurturing and guiding me through my most fruitful years.

Why did you choose Engineering?

I grew up in a family of engineers – my father is an electrical engineer and my mother an environmental engineer. I was exposed to the culture of engineering early on as I was always curious to open machines up and know how they work. When given the chance to choose my area of study, naturally I chose the one field I felt most comfortable with and had the fascination to study.

Tell me about your experience in Engineering. What have you learned that is most valuable?

I have had a holistic experience during the course of my degree. Although, I was taking a heavy course-load and was constantly in the midst of engineering students, I made it a point to explore the opportunities that the rest of UBC provides. Through this, I have learned the importance of developing interpersonal and soft skills that enabled me to share my perspective and knowledge with professionals from different backgrounds. I feel that the world is highly interdependent and I am glad to be graduating UBC with not just the skills of an engineer but with the ability to share my skills for the benefit of the world.

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

I receive true satisfaction from practicing engineering when I know that my contributions to the field have benefitted people worldwide. For the past two years, I have been involved with applying my technical skills through various research experiences. At UBC, I have been working under Prof. John Madden in developing artificial muscles from cheap materials such as fishing line. My goal is fabricate these actuator muscles to be used in soft robotics and increase access to and universally cheap prosthetics. Hopefully, I will see a future where people with disabilities are empowered to access inexpensive and readily available prosthetics.

What has been your most memorable/valuable non-academic experience studying engineering at UBC?

Being involved with Engineers without Borders (EWB) has been my most memorable and valuable non-academic experience at UBC. Ever since the first meeting I attended in my first year, I resonated with the EWB’s values that stood for alleviating poverty in the world through the power of human collaboration. In the next three years that followed, I advocated for the cause of Fairtrade on UBC campus. With the help of the UBC students and community, I was able to uphold UBC’s status as a Fairtrade campus. I regard this as my most memorable experience as it always taught me to consider the big picture of how our actions and professional skills could be used to bring active change in the world.

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

I feel that as an engineering student, I was required to work as part of a team in many of my courses. At first, I was not very comfortable navigating myself in a group environment but soon I realised the importance of my peers in solving real life issues. Since then, I have learned to thrive in group environments and have been able to provide solutions to engineering problems as a group. I feel that the opportunity to work as a group is emphasised greatly in an engineering degree as compared to others. I will graduate from UBC knowing that I am prepared to work as part of a team in the professional world.

What advice would you give a student considering Engineering?

Engineering trains a very specific set of skills in a student, and I would advise students considering engineering to have a passion for science and technology as the courses are very specialised. Since they will be spending a better part of their four years studying technology, they will only like it if they have the yearning to study and learn about technology.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I often like to take time off from my schedule to enjoy the life around me – may it be the trees, the scenic beauty or just noticing people’s emotions. It gives me a sense of purpose and shows me how I fit into the bigger picture of my family, community and the world as a whole.

What are your plans for the future--immediate? Long-term?

My background in micro- and nano-systems, and the research I pursued here at UBC have led me to be accepted at the University of Cambridge for a PhD program. There I will be pursuing research on fabricating wearable sensors that monitor for signs of cardiac disorders. In the long term, I want to be part of academia and pass on my knowledge of technology to the new generation of engineers.

How will you go on to make a difference in our world?

I have always considered the impact of any work that I pursue on people around me and my community and choose to work on those projects that are of direct benefit them. I am hoping that the work I will pursue in my PhD will be used for clinical trials and for the benefit of all those who are battling cardiac disorders. I will apply this philosophy to every research I will be pursuing and hope that it will be a positive impact on my community.