Veronica Knott, BASc '19, Mining Engineering
"The mining industry is at a pivotal time … Mining engineers are at the center of that and it is our job to be the stewards of not only economic design, but also environmental and social innovations."
Throughout her degree, Veronica Knott has held multiple leadership roles including Chair of the National Conference on Women in Engineering in 2013, President of the Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS) in 2014-2015 and student member of the UBC Board of Governors in 2015-2017. In all these roles, her leadership focused on building more welcoming and inclusive societies for student communities — resulting in creating various cornerstone initiatives such as the Iron Pin Ceremony. Since transferring into the mining program, Veronica has competed in four Canadian Mining Games and one World Mining Competition, with consistent top three finishes. Her internships include Riivos, Barrick’s Hemlo site and Goldcorp (in the Vancouver office). Her passion for mining and innovation was on full display as a #DisruptMining judge at the 2018 innovation competition. As well as through multiple award recognitions including the Engineering Canada Gold Medal Student Award in 2017.
Why did you choose engineering?
For a long time, I didn’t think I was going into engineering; I applied to it as a backup program. However, as I got closer to decision day I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my career and I really wanted to keep all my options open. The general year of UBC Engineering and the ability to use engineering as a starting point for any career was what ultimately drove my choice. I’m extremely happy with my choice, as it provided so many options and the possibility for me to find mining — an industry that is so foreign to a big city kid like me.
What have you learned in engineering that is most valuable?
Although I have learned a lot of valuable content, the major thing I feel that engineering taught me was time management. Engineering course loads are heavy, and if you add in extra-curricular you can easily feel like you are drowning. However, through perseverance, reading way too may blogs, a few sleepless nights and a million mistakes, I finally began to learn time management. I started to learn how to effectively plan, schedule and predict how much time I would need to complete tasks. This has been by far the most valuable skill moving into the working world, because it allows you to juggle multiple things and not get overwhelmed.
What has been your most memorable/valuable non-academic experience studying engineering at UBC?
Being a part of the EUS. I originally thought a lot of student government roles were self-serving — people looking to add titles to their resumes. Once I got involved in the EUS though, I saw it was completely different; in so many ways, the EUS shapes that initial cultural interaction students have with the concept of “engineering.” I know when I started at UBC, I was given a great group of strong female mentors through Alpha Omega Epsilon (UBC’s professional engineering and technical sorority) who taught me the pride and the welcoming community behind engineering. I knew the EUS could be the group to give all first-years that sense of belonging and be somewhere they can go in times of uncertainty. Being a part of shaping that, changing that and growing that was by far the most memorable experience I’ve had at UBC.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I live my life through “no, thank you” helpings. As I was growing up, my mom would try all types of new foods and when she asked if I wanted any, I’d say “no, thank you.” My mom’s response was that I would have to try a “no, thank you” sized helping of the food. Through this I ended up overcoming my perceptions and finding new foods to love. So now, I live life like through this philosophy; when someone asks if I want to try something like move to a new country or try a new job I resist my “no, thank you” gut reaction and instead say “yes.” I try it out, at least once. This has been the source of some of my most valuable life experiences and I think that ability to live in the uncomfortable has been the key to my success.
What are your plans for the future?
Immediately after graduation I’ll be taking two months to travel and I’m really excited for the break from school. The trip will include the UBC Mining and Mineral Processing Grad Field Research Trip, where each year the graduating class tours mines in Sweden and Finland. Afterwards, I’ll be starting my full-time job at an international gold mine, and am looking forward to more on-the-ground mining experience.
The mining industry is at a pivotal time, as is the world. The demand for minerals has only increased and it is a demand that is tied to larger environmental and social implications. Mining engineers are at the center of that and it is our job to be the stewards of not only economic design, but also environmental and social innovations. I can’t wait to be a part of such a historic industry during one of its pivotal centuries.
How will you go on to make a difference in our world?
The slogan of my high school, Havergal College, is to “prepare young women to make a difference in this world.” As such, I’ve thought a lot about this concept and whether or not I feel I will. I went through a large phase where I felt that the world was just too big to ever make an impactful difference. However, over the past couple of years I’ve realized that making a difference is not often one big sweeping impact but is more valuable when made up of a lot of little differences. As such, I made a promise to myself to stand up for the small things, fix what was immediately in-front of me, and put time and effort into making each day and experience just that little bit better. It was from making all these small changes I feel I had an impact at UBC. We never set out to make the Iron Pin, we just started with the idea that we wanted to improve how we welcomed first years. I’m not going to commit to change the world but I know that I’ll continue to stand up when I think things are wrong, to be welcoming to those around me and to carry myself with a smile. I hope that those little differences can be my contribution.
View more 2019 Student Stars at apsc.ubc.ca/students/stars/2019.