Forging a path forward

"Forge your path back on track."

Ian smiling, in front of Van Dusan Botanical Garden on Christmas Eve
Ian in front of Van Dusan Botanical Garden on Christmas Eve

Ian Dow

Year: 3rd Year

Chat with Ian 


Hi, my name is Ian and I'm a 4th-year Chemical Engineering student at UBC Vancouver. I had the incredible privilege of being involved in many of UBC's great communities and events, both in and outside engineering; I made many friends in first year throughout the Jump Start week, I gained a lot of practical understanding and skills whilst working in a design team, and through the Applied Science Co-op program I was able to apply my knowledge into corporate projects with real-world effects and consequences and trade them for technical skills and experience. Co-op has also allowed me to travel to different locations and gain insight into new perspectives and ideas. I'm really grateful for the experiences and opportunities UBC has given me.

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

Actually, I was initially trying for Mechanical Engineering, and I had even devised a rigid and elaborate career plan for when I would graduate from Mechanical Engineering. Therefore, when I eventually found out that I was placed in Chemical Engineering, it was as if I was knocked off my trail and couldn't find the way back. The devastation was amplified with the start of the COVID-19 lockdowns, and one after another everything seemed to slip away and it felt like I was tumbling deeper into the woods. This "dark period" of my journey was a test of my endurance and resolution, and because of it I became stronger. It was from this experience that I learned, when you've lost track, forge a path and keep move forward, and eventually you’ll find a trail.

What has made your time at UBC Engineering memorable?

UBC Engineering has been a journey of not only learning the practicalities of engineering in academics and the real world, but also one of self-reflection and self-improvement. UBC Engineering provided me the opportunity to gain invaluable knowledge and experience through co-op, design teams, and departmental events, and the colleagues and mentors I met along the way were an incredible source of inspiration and strength that allowed me to take those opportunities.

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

Above the technical skills and knowledge from classes, I can confidently say that the most valuable lesson I learned in the program was on the importance of teamwork and cooperation. From juvenescence to young adulthood, the idea was accentuated so incessantly that any variation of the phrase had become meaningless. And thus, I had long underestimated its significance before coming to UBC Engineering. Joining design teams, having team projects, and working in co-op have all contributed to this lesson.

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

In terms of resources organized by UBC Engineering, career development programs such as the Applied Science Co-op program have contributed greatly in the development of my career as an engineering student. Reaching out of professors regarding opportunities and networking with senior students have also proved to be valuable. However, by far the most helpful resources were the friends I made in the program; holding group study sessions, sharing events and news, and helping each other out were invaluable to my success.

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

If a student entering UBC Engineering knows exactly what he/she wants, has a clear and concrete plan to achieve it, and is absolutely certain and determined to achieve it, I would tell them to keep moving forward no matter what peers say otherwise. If they've stumbled off course, forge a new path, and keep moving forward until you get there.

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?

UBC Engineering teaches us the importance of upholding moral values while creating solutions that will help people or society, and I believe this doctrine should apply to not just engineering, but to all jobs. UBC Engineering also encourages innovation and open-mindedness, which are crucial traits to have in a world that sees no shortage of complex issues. Although the job market is constantly shifting to reflect the trend of the world, I believe the core principles of engineering will always remain relevant in our ever-changing workforce. And by teaching these principles, UBC Engineering will prepare me to tackle any obstacle in an engineer's line of work.

Student in a lab holding a mini Erlenmeyer flask.

Chemical and Biological Engineering

Chemical and biological engineers will be equipped to excel in a number of fast-growing and highly paid fields, including biotechnology, food, environmental services, bioenergy, forestry, biopharmaceuticals, health care and biomedical engineering.

Chemical and Biological Engineering
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