Tony Wu, BASc '18, Chemical and Biological Engineering
"The most valuable lesson that I have learned is to create opportunity where opportunity doesn’t exist. "
Tony is a graduating chemical engineering student with a passion for photography and design. He is recognized by his peers and the department for his involvement with the Chemical Engineering Undergraduate Council throughout his degree including helping organize the annual CHBE Industrial Field Trip, volunteering at open houses, and helping organize events for his graduating class. He has worked in the pulp and paper industry and in wastewater treatment in the past. His passion for content creation sparked the creation of his weekly vlogs that document his day to day life as a chemical engineering student, as well as content targeted towards helping provide first year students with study resources which has become viral within the UBC community.
Why did you choose engineering?
To be honest, I jumped into it without too much thought. Before I entered UBC, I was studying science at the University of Victoria. I happened to have a lot of friends who were in engineering, and I really enjoyed studying chemistry. “Why not combine the two disciplines?”, I thought.
What has made your time at UBC the most memorable?
Diversity is what made my undergraduate experience so memorable. My time at UBC wouldn’t be what it is without the great group of friends from all over the world that I have made throughout my degree.
What have you learned that is most valuable?
The most valuable lesson that I have learned is to create opportunity where opportunity doesn’t exist. I originally created my vlog as a way to document my last year in chemical engineering and for a way for me to develop my video editing skills. I recognized that there was an audience out there for people who wanted to see what an engineering student goes through on a day to day basis. I wanted my content to have purpose which is why in addition to my weekly vlogs, I started creating content targeted towards providing studying resources to students. As a person who learned practically everything from YouTube, I wanted to help first year students have access to the variety of online resources to help them succeed in their fields. Realizing that I can go out and carryout an idea from conception to the finished product made me realize that you can find make a career out of anything if you are passionate and there is enough of a demand for it.
What has been your most memorable/valuable non-academic experience studying engineering at UBC?
The most memorable non-academic experience at UBC was definitely the Third Year Chemical Engineering field trip to central BC and Alberta, which I had a role in organizing. We spent about a week travelling from Vancouver to Prince George to Edmonton to Calgary visiting water treatment facilities and chemical production plants. It was an eye opener seeing how massive these operations are when you realize the size of a reactor is drawn on a sheet of paper can be about two stories tall. With that being said, the time spent with my friends during the downtime were some of the most memorable moments of my degree.
What advice would you give a student considering engineering?
1. “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.” Time management is the biggest challenge in your degree. If you are an average student like myself, having a good work ethic will (almost) ensure long term success in your degree.
2. “Take more risks.” I don’t think enough students realize that university is a great opportunity for students to try something that they always wanted to do (photography, dancing, rock climbing) and explore their own interests. It can be difficult to leave the familiarity of the engineering discipline, especially when school work consumes so much of a student’s free time, but I think it is something that is not taken advantage enough out in engineering. The last thing I want is to finish a degree with regrets.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I am inspired by an amazing group hard-working and talented friends, some of which were able to independently carve out careers for themselves in creative fields. I have learned from them to stay patient and to pursue my passions rather than a paycheck. Social media is also a great starting point for finding inspiration for a project as well.
How will you go on to make a difference in our world?
I will go on and make a difference in the world by acting unselfishly and create content that can help inspire others to pursue their passions, all while “keeping it real” and being honest with myself and others.