“Engineering teaches you to look at the world with a new lens and develop a problem-solving mindset.” Kailey Beckie shares her experience as a mechanical engineering student.
- Degree: Bachelor of Applied Science
- Campus: Okanagan
Year: 3rd year
Why did you want to study engineering?
In Grade 12 I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study. I chose engineering because I view it as an extremely broad field, and I know I will be able to find a niche that I really enjoy. I had considered nursing and realized that I could still explore the medical field through biomedical engineering in the future. A lot of what I did growing up naturally pointed to this field as well. I had an interest in woodworking and other hands-on projects, and worked for an aircraft company for a short time. I gravitated towards the sciences in high school and was drawn by the practicality of engineering.
Why did you choose UBC Engineering? What made it stand out compared to other schools?
UBC has an amazing reputation and a good program. I really like being at the Okanagan campus for the location, the views and the opportunities for rock climbing and other outdoor activities. Because UBCO is tied to UBC Vancouver, I feel like I have all the perks and opportunities of a big university without the stress of a big city or a big campus. I was also offered a scholarship to study at UBC, which had a big influence on my decision.
How did you choose your program specialization?
First year is a general introduction to engineering and you choose your specialization before the start of second year. I chose mechanical engineering because it seemed like one of the broader choices and it also has the possibility of a biomedical option. In high school I participated as a researcher in a medical research program and I wanted to keep that door open. I was also the most interested in the mechanical classes that I took my first year, which was a pretty strong hint that that was where I was supposed to be.
Are you involved in any clubs?
In my first and second year I was involved with the Engineering Society. This year, I’ve been helping with the International Society of Automation to introduce students to automation in manufacturing processes and to make connections with industry. We’re just getting started and hope to do a factory tour soon.
Is the workload of being an engineering student what you thought it would be?
My dad and older sister are both engineers, so I had plenty of warning that I would have to work hard to get through this degree. I had a healthy dose of nerves going into my first year but once I became more familiar with the workload, I realized that a work-life balance was very achievable. I feel a sense of accomplishment in this field and find it very rewarding when your hard work pays off. I also found that I had much more interest in my classes after first year when my classes started to specialize more.
What new skills are you developing as an engineer?
UBC’s engineering program goes beyond just developing your technical and math skills. There are courses on Indigenous consultation and project management that help you develop soft skills as well. I find that engineering teaches you to look at the world with a new lens and develop a problem-solving mindset.
What are some of the highlights of your education so far?
The profs here get students working on some really interesting and open-ended projects, which are a highlight of my education.
In first year, you work with your group on a semester-long project to model something using SolidWorks, which is 3D CAD software. Some students from my year modelled construction machinery, boats, a watch and spacecraft. My group decided to model the Flying Scotsman, a famous steam train from England. We built the train part by part and put it all together.
Another great project involved building and programming a self-driving car. It served as an introduction to Python and machine learning. The goal was for your car to drive between two lines on the floor using video input.
Self Driving Car
Any advice for other students?
Completing an engineering degree is tough, but all your classmates are in the same boat. It’s a great way to make friends! I’ve also found that I have more in common with other students studying engineering. If you chose to study what you love, you’ll meet people with similar interests.
You can’t go wrong by choosing this degree. I was always told that an engineering degree proves that you can work hard and learn a lot in a small amount of time. It’s a quick way to tell future employers that you’re worthwhile, no matter what field you end up working in.