Onyinye Ofulue, BASc '18, Chemical and Biological Engineering

Onyinye Ofulue
“Engineering trains your brain to work in a problem-solving mode, helpful in applying technical knowledge and excelling in other avenues of your professional career.”

I have always admired people who strive to make a difference in their daily lives, and every day I strive to be one of them. To achieve this, in addition to my academic focus, I look out for extracurricular and volunteer activities in which I have keen interest in.

In high school, I developed a curiosity in renewable fuels, influencing my decision to pursue chemical engineering as my bachelor degree. As an avenue to pursue this curiosity, I joined the UBC chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World; I was attracted to their biodiesel project, which aims to convert waste cooking oil collected from UBC Food Services to renewable biodiesel.

I am proud of being a UBC student and look forward to actively sharing my experiences with first year students. By volunteering with UBC Housing, I am able to help welcome students to campus and ease the transition from high school into university.

I also enjoy teaching, leading to my involvement in a book club in my home country, Nigeria, to develop reading and problem-solving skills of primary and secondary school students.

What has made your time at UBC the most memorable?

My friends, professors and supervisors. I met some of my favorite people in Chemical and Biological Engineering (CHBE): friends who supported me academically and mentally, professors who shared their experiences and gave valuable advice, and supervisors who helped me achieve my extracurricular goals.

What have you learned in engineering that is most valuable?

There are two main things I have learned in this degree: 1) you cannot ride solo 2) Frida Kahlo best put it when she said “At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.” Every time I think I can’t, I remember the several obstacles I was able to overcome throughout my five year degree, and that empowers me to keep going.

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

I successfully completed four co-op terms throughout my degree. Occupying the positions of research assistant and chemical engineering intern in some of the best companies, I applied my technical knowledge, laboratory and safety skills. These allowed me to excel in my roles.

What advice would you give a student considering engineering?

Engineering is a degree that expands your ability to think. It trains your brain to work in a problem-solving mode, helpful in applying technical knowledge and excelling in other avenues of your professional career. It helps to have a goal — it will keep you going when it gets tough. Also, if you decide to go for engineering, I strongly recommend you join the co-op program. You do not want to graduate without any technical work experience.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I find inspiration from my family; I have many family members who studied engineering and they are all accomplished in their fields. I believe that played a significant role in my choice of degree. I also draw inspiration from myself: I set goals and push myself, and when I achieve those goals, I set higher ones. In other words, I like to beat my former self and keep improving.

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

Joining the UBC Chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World — this platform gave me an opportunity to work in non-academic teams, with students from other departments and other top universities in the continent, develop my presentation skills, be a leader and interact with faculty members.