Provincial Design Competition Winner Ready To Make Communities More Sustainable

"I would love to help bring access to clean water to communities that don’t have it right now or work on sustainable infrastructure."

Atoussa Farboud

Atoussa Farboud

Why did you want to study engineering?

I grew up on a chili pepper farm on Vancouver Island, and I always loved building and creating things. It was actually my math teacher who pointed me to engineering as a career where I could pursue my interests. 

Questions about engineering

How did you decide on UBC?

In addition to being one of the best engineering schools in Canada, UBC has so many opportunities for students. Coming to UBC also allowed me to be independent in the city, yet close to home. Finally, you can’t beat the West Coast: it’s beautiful here. 

UBCV and UBCO have something for everyone

How did you choose Environmental Engineering? 

I liked that it’s a mix of civil and chemical engineering, so in a sense you are studying two disciplines at once. 

My mom worked in government and when I was growing up we often talked about boil water advisories in First Nations communities. That’s what got me interested in water and thinking I could use environmental engineering as a way to make a difference. Meeting professors like Madjid Mohseni and learning about his work was also very inspiring.

Environmental engineering  Madjid Mohseni

You were part of the first cohort of environmental engineers. What was that like?

Very interesting! The professors were genuinely interested in seeking our input on how to make this the best program it could be. 

It was nice to be a part of building the degree and to see how they’re making adjustments year-to-year based on our advice. 

Why engineers make great leaders

What are some of the highlights of your UBC experience?

The capstone project was a definite highlight. My group developed a water treatment plan for the Northwest Langley Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion. It was great to work with a team and come up with solutions and ideas, and it gave me a hint of what consulting might look like after graduation.

A cool course in second year focused on learning about site visits. 

My group chose the bog in Pacific Spirit Park and we basically had to emulate everything you’d do in a site visit, from determining the contaminants at the site to identifying ways it is affected by pollution. 

It was great get out of the classroom and spend time outdoors!

Capstone project 

Northwest Langley Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion

Skills needed to succeed as an engineer

Any work experiences you’d like to share?

Most people in my program pursued jobs in water treatment. I decided I wanted to go to the civil route because I wanted to learn more about how things are built. I worked for PCL on the North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant. It was great being on site and realizing why it’s in the news! I was on a team that’s addressing problems from the previous contractor, which was an amazing learning experience. 

Being able to dive into the civil engineering side of environmental engineering has been just fantastic.

PCL  North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant

Benefits of co-op

Tell us about your design competition success!

In 2023, I participated in the BCWWA student design competition

My team developed a treatment process to address high sulfate and PFAS levels in the Glenmore landfill leachate. 

We won the provincial competition and were then invited to compete at WEFTEC, an international water conference held in Chicago that also includes a student design competition. This is the largest water conference in the world bringing together over 20,000 people who love everything to do with water! It was an incredible experience to be in the midst of so many innovative ideas.

BCWWA student design competition  WEFTEC

Engineering is a profession for the future

How do you think this degree has changed you? 

I think the biggest change I’ve seen is in my confidence. I remember feeling a sense of imposter syndrome as a incoming first-year student. Working with teams and creating things has really helped me overcome this. 

I am confident in my abilities and, most importantly, confident in my ability to learn and rise to the challenge in front of me.

Do you have any thoughts on the type of impact you’d like to make in your career?

I would love to help bring access to clean water to communities that don’t have it right now or work on sustainable infrastructure.

Why engineering is a versatile and future-proof degree

What’s next for you?

I was hired before I graduated to work as an Environmental EIT for Urban Systems, an engineering consulting firm. It’s a great role: I’ll be working on water treatment systems and sanitary systems for smaller communities, and I am so excited about the work, how much I’ll learn and the opportunity to make a difference.

Urban Systems

UBC environmental engineering students taking a reading in an urban creek.

Environmental Engineering

As one of the most beautiful places anywhere, British Columbia is an ideal location to pursue an Environmental Engineering degree. UBC offers two Environmental Engineering Programs...

Environmental Engineering

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UBC Applied Science students are people who are passionate about their chosen field — architecture, landscape architecture, community and regional planning, engineering and nursing — and those that inspire others by making meaningful contributions to the betterment of society.

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