“As an industrial engineer,” says Dr. Wouter Bam, “you have a real opportunity to use your interdisciplinary knowledge and problem-solving skills to make an impact.” His research is used by policymakers in developing countries to determine how best to develop their resources.
- Campus: Okanagan
Education: PhD in Industrial Engineering (Stellenbosch University) and Economics (KU Leuven), MPhil in Industrial Systems, Manufacturing and Management (University of Cambridge), BEng (Industrial) (Stellenbosch University)
What led you to engineering?
I always liked math and physics, and engineering seemed like a place I could build on those interests.
I focused on industrial engineering because of its broad range of applications. I did a joint PhD in industrial engineering and economics looking at the topic of industrial policy, and, more specifically, on how developing countries can make better policy decisions that support sustainable development.
Why is this research important?
If policymakers don’t have these kinds of nuanced tools to help them understand the environmental, economic and social impacts of different development options, they tend to fall back on simpler ideologies, like resource nationalism. This can lead to negative economic, environmental and social impacts.
A related area of my research is looking at how technologies are adopted in different industries and identifying the barriers hampering their uptake.
This can have significant repercussions in industries like health care, for example. I’m working with a colleague in civil engineering to look at what’s preventing the more widespread adoption of innovative construction technologies.
Watch Dr. Wouter Bam speak at UBC Engineering Open House
Why should students choose UBC?
I can answer that question by talking about what brought me here. I am really excited about the growth of the manufacturing engineering program at UBC Okanagan. It’s exciting to be part of a small entrepreneurial community that also has the resources that come with a world-class university like UBC. The end-to-end system thinking that is the hallmark of an industrial engineer is something we really hope to achieve in our manufacturing program on the Okanagan campus. Students who study manufacturing engineering will be exposed to this management side of engineering.