A Semester In Hong Kong Was A Highlight Of Tina Nguyen’s Engineering Education

"I’ve always wanted to travel, but faced financial barriers to doing so. Going on an exchange is an amazing way to be able to live and study in a different country."

Tina Nguyen

Tina Nguyen

  • Degree: Bachelor of Applied Science
  • Program:
  • Campus: Vancouver
  • Year: 6th year as of November 2023

Why did you choose engineering?

While volunteering at seniors’ residences when I was in high school, I noticed how important medical devices were to people’s ability to participate in recreation activities. If someone’s oxygen tank wasn’t working, for example, it stopped them from doing activities they loved. Even simple mobility aids like a cane made a huge difference.

It made me realize the impact that technology can have on quality of life, and I saw engineering as a way to have a positive impact on others.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I participated in a UBC tour and loved the campus. But the main thing that hooked me on UBC was learning about all the opportunities and places to study abroad for a semester through Go Global. I also received a Centennial Scholars Entrance Award from UBC! 

Go Global

Centennial Scholars Entrance Award

UBC Campus Tour

How did you choose Electrical Engineering?

My first year at UBC coincided with the first year that the Biomedical Engineering was offered, and I took the pre-biomedical engineering courses thinking that’s where I wanted to end up. However, I discovered in my first-year courses that I was particularly interested in electrical systems. Many of the guest speakers we had from the biomedical industry had an electrical engineering background, and I saw Electrical Engineering, with the biomedical engineering option, as the best choice for my interests. 

Biomedical Engineering Electrical Engineering

Biomedical engineering option

What are some of the highlights of the courses you’ve taken?

The courses can be quite challenging, but to be honest, I like that! I enjoy the hands-on projects – in second year, for example, we made a finger clamp to record heart rate. 

Tell us about your semester abroad!

This was a goal of mine from the start of my degree. The Coordinated International Experience program made it possible to integrate it into my study plans. However, public health restrictions due to COVID-19 kept delaying when this could happen. I was finally paired with the University of Hong Kong where I spent a semester taking courses related to biomedical engineering, as well as courses connected to my minor in computer science. 

The semester was amazing. I was able to do labs that weren’t available to me at UBC, like electrooculography, where you use eye movements to control a mouse. Many of the lab facilities were in hospitals, which was also very interesting. 

I’ve always wanted to travel, but faced financial barriers to doing so. Going on an exchange is an amazing way to be able to live and study in a different country. 

Tina at exchange

Coordinated International Experience

University of Hong Kong

Tell us about your experience of co-op.

Co-op is a very useful way to learn what you like and don’t like about different areas or companies, as well as to gain solid work experience.

 I did three different co-op placements. My first was at UBC as a Learning Rover Team Lead to provide the Faculty of Medicine with technical assistance. My next position was at a research lab at SFU doing data analysis for a machine learning project focused on medical images. My last term was doing software development for a startup company working in the digital health-care industry – and I’ve continued to work part time with them. 


What extracurricular activities are you involved in?

I’ve been on BEST (the Biomedical Engineering Student Team) for five years. Being part of a design team is great. The people you work with will challenge and support you. There’s such a sense of community and you get to do things you love and practice the skills you learn in class. 

Biomedical Engineering Student Team

What’s next for you after you graduate?

There are a lot of options open to me – software, hardware, firmware – and I’m taking this final year to narrow down what exactly it is I want to focus on. 

No matter what, I want to make a positive impact in people’s lives. 

There’s such an opportunity for medical devices and technologies to improve quality of life, and if I can make a tangible difference to even one person, I would be very proud of that. 

Electrical engineering student working on her circuit board

Electrical Engineering

Electrical engineers impact almost every aspect of our lives. They make essential medical equipment, design wireless communications networks, predict earthquakes, and invent new ways to generate and conserve energy.

Electrical Engineering

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