Learning to welcome change: One massive change at a time

"Live, laugh, slay!"

Hannah standing on a bridge with a small waterfall behind.

Hannah Meaney

  • Degree: Bachelor of Applied Science
  • Program: Biomedical Engineering
  • Campus: Vancouver

Year: 3rd Year

Chat with Hannah

Throughout my degree I’ve gone through a lot of changes – covid lockdown during my first year, switching my course focus from cellular bioengineering to biomedical informatics and extending my degree to name a few! My journey has been one massive surprise after another, and if you told younger me I was going to be an engineer I would have thought I’d be fixing people’s sinks for the rest of my life (yes I thought engineers were plumbers).

One of my biggest goals is to inspire minorities to pursue STEM. As the only person in my family in STEM I understand the challenges that come with not seeing yourself in those roles and not being exposed to technical skills in childhood. This fuelled my passion for mentorship which I have done through many avenues. I was a student vlogger for the Faculty of Applied Science, am co-head of the mentorship program for the UBC Biomedical Engineering Student Team (BEST) and an engineering ambassador for UBC. 

I am interested in product management because I enjoy translating stakeholder needs into a technical solution. I love to be creative, work with people from diverse backgrounds and facilitate the adoption of technologies into society. 

How did you decide your current UBC Engineering discipline, or why did you choose UBC Engineering?

I only really understood what an engineer was while starting my university application process. I realized my love for solving complex-problems, teamwork, and creativity fit the bill! I chose UBC Engineering because I love Vancouver and it is one of the few universities that offered biomedical engineering (BMEG) as an undergraduate degree. I wanted to pursue BMEG because it applies biology, anatomy and physiology and uses problem-solving and technology. I also like how you can try biology, electrical, mechanical and software courses before picking a specialization to determine your likes and dislikes. 

I went into UBC wanting to do stem cell engineering in a wet lab but decided that environment wasn’t for me after taking some courses. I ended up really enjoying the two mandatory coding courses I took, and so have extended my degree so that I can pursue that path instead. 

What has made your time at UBC Engineering memorable?

I would have to say the people. The engineering program at UBC is made up of some of the most motivated, supportive, funny, and intelligent people I have ever met. My friends have truly shaped the person that I am today by always challenging me both personally and academically. We’ve created a support system for the CRAZY journey that is engineering - I would not have passed some classes if it weren’t for last-minute tutoring or collaborative summary notes (shoutout to my BMEG 250 group!). UBC Engineering is undoubtedly difficult, but you’re facing the challenges together as a team. 

Tell us about your experience in your program. What have you learned that is most valuable?

My experience so far in BMEG has been great! The courses, people and faculty are all very inspiring, welcoming and fun. 

I've learned that teamwork is an invaluable skill that sets the engineering program apart from most others at UBC. Most of my courses have been focused on teamwork and the hands-on application of what we learn in class (inventing, problem-solving or working with real-life stakeholders). While anyone can pick up a technical skill with enough experience, learning how to work with people with different opinions and skillsets is a new challenge I hadn't faced before. I find that to be the best and most rewarding part though! 

What resources or events organized by UBC Engineering have helped you in your academic, professional or entrepreneurial journey thus far?

The UBC Engineering Undergraduate Society hosts free group tutoring sessions for most first-year classes, and I found those quite helpful for physics (PHYS 157 especially). They provide packages with practice questions, and you can work on them with your friends and ask the upper year tutors for help when needed – sometimes they even bring pizza!

I’ve also found the Faculty of Applied Science co-op program helpful in finding my co-op placements. They provide interview, cover-letter and resume support and a lot of job postings are only posted through their portal. 

What is one piece of advice you would share to a student entering UBC Engineering?

Everything will work out. Seriously. Coming from someone who failed over half of her midterms in first year and is extending her degree – it’s all good. UBC Engineering is such a fun time, and you want to graduate knowing you’re doing what you love – whether that looks like extending your degree to explore extracurriculars, travelling abroad or reducing your course load to simply enjoy life. It truly is what you make of it, so go into first year with an open mind and explore EVERYTHING. Trust the process in learning what your likes and dislikes are even if they surprise you. 

Many of today’s jobs did not exist 10 years ago, and we do not know for certain what the workforce will look like 10 years from now. How do you see the remainder of your studies in the Faculty of Applied Science preparing you for the future of work?

Technically speaking, my program specialization is heavily focused on technology and software which in my opinion is the future. Every industry relies or will rely on technology – especially in healthcare. The remainder of my studies in BMEG will prepare me for this future because I will be taking a lot of computer science and management courses. I’m particularly interested in creating accessible and automated online networks for patient information or infectious disease tracking. The courses I’ll take in machine learning and data science will give me the tools I need to pursue that. 

Most importantly though, the Faculty of Applied Science has taught me how to solve very complex problems. Problem solving, working in teams and the ability to learn new skills and adapt quickly can be applied to any industry at any time (as I’ve learned from my co-op in finance!). 

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