This month, we spoke with alumnus Wayne Wong. Read about his time at UBC and what he has accomplished since.
Find out why Wayne Wong (BASc '04 CHML, MASc '06 CIVL) would go back in time to his undergrad and explore different opportunities. Wayne is currently a consulting engineer at AECOM.
Can you tell us a little bit about the kind of work that you do?
I work at AECOM as a consulting engineer on planning, design and owner’s engineer assignments for municipal wastewater treatment, reuse, and disposal systems. My specialization is in integrated resource recovery from wastewater systems.
What would you do if you weren’t an Engineer… in alternate universe?
I imagined while I was growing up that I would become an astronaut one day. I grew up watching Star Trek and have always been fascinated with space and have a strong desire to explore the unknown. In an alternate universe, I would be in a space ship among the stars and learning something new about the universe (or multiverse?).
What do you feel are three habits necessary for highly successful engineers?
These may sound like clichés but engineers who have a habit of being curious, who are always thinking, and who are always learning will be successful. As engineers, we are trained to identify, analyze, and solve problems, and to do so we need to be constantly asking questions, looking for options and solutions, and learning from what works and what does not work.
What are the top three things that you would recommend current engineering students do before they graduate?
First and foremost, I would definitely recommend students to seize the moment and pursue opportunities that are available on campus, whether it is completing academic coursework outside of the immediate field of study, joining an interesting club, or meeting new people. Although it seems like a long time between entering UBC to the day you graduate, time goes by very quickly and opportunities come and go in an instant. Interesting experiences enrich our lives and allow us to grow.
Secondly, I would highly recommend students to network and build connections with others through relevant organizations and associations both within UBC as well as externally in industry. Looking for employment opportunities really needs to start from Day 1 at university rather than after graduation. Strong networking and communication skills are essential to get a head start and join today’s workforce.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, I would recommend students to explore what it means to work in the industry which is critical to help gauge whether the type of work is truly interesting and appealing. Whether it is joining the Co-op program or spending a summer in a laboratory, it is highly beneficial to gain experience and to use the experience to evaluate whether it is a viable and desirable career path.
If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?
I was a bookworm while in school. If I could go back in time, I would definitely make better use of my time to explore and expand beyond studying textbooks, and immerse in the experience of being a member of the UBC community. Looking back, maintaining good grades was important, but at times it was at the expense of meeting new people and exploring different opportunities. Definitely not the advice that I would give students today!