"As engineers, we have the power to innovate and contribute to society, making a difference in people's lives through our service."
- Degree: Bachelor of Applied Science
- Grad year: 2018
- Campus: Vancouver
Job title as of 2023: ADAS Software Engineer, General Motors
Why did you want to study engineering?
I was always interested in automotives and electronics. Pursuing engineering was an opportunity for me to look under the hood, learn more about technology and solve problems. I was also interested in engineering because I've always been intrigued by the process of turning an idea into a product.
Why did you choose UBC?
When I was a young child, some of my extended family moved to Canada from China. They kept sending me pictures of Vancouver and the UBC campus. I was amazed by the beauty of the mountains, as well as the resources that UBC has to offer. It was a natural choice for me to apply.
Why did you choose Electrical Engineering?
In my first year, I debated between electrical, mechanical, civil and computer engineering. One of the main reasons I chose electrical engineering was that my grandfather was an electrical engineer. He was actually one of the principal engineers in China who made significant contributions in the area of rural electrification. I was inspired by the impact my grandpa and his team had by bringing electricity to rural areas: it dramatically improved the quality of life for children, for example, who then had light to study by.
What were some highlights of your undergraduate experience?
One of the major highlights of my journey was my one-year internship with Autoliv Electronics (currently known as Veoneer) in Yokohama, Japan, made possible through the Canada-Japan Co-op Program. As a sensor engineering intern, I worked in the area of active safety and driver's assistance for automotives. My team's primary responsibility was testing and validating the sensors integrated into radars and cameras on cars.
This hands-on experience not only fueled my passion for the automotive industry but also provided me with a unique opportunity to immerse myself in Japanese culture.
Along the way, I gained deeper insights into various areas of interest, including advanced technologies, public transportation and industrial design.
Another highlight of my university experience was my involvement in the community through extracurricular activities, particularly Zen at UBC. This small, dedicated group engaged in Zen meditation twice a week, offering me a profound sense of clarity and tranquility. It became an invaluable practice that helped me cope with the pressures of campus life and fostered a stronger connection with the community and the world around me.
Did you develop new ways of looking at the world as an engineering student?
One thing I've learned throughout this entire journey is the importance of openness to diversity.
UBC Engineering has a very diverse student body. It helped me appreciate the differences people have and, at the same time, it has also helped me focus on our common goal as engineers: to make other people's lives better. By recognizing different talents from different people, we can come up with more holistic, inclusive and impactful solutions. Working as individuals enables us to solve small problems. If we want to work on more large-scale, complex projects, we need to work together as a team.
Tell us about your career since graduation.
After returning from Japan, I was motivated to develop my career in the automotive industry. I attended an information session with General Motors in 2017 and learned that their facility was expanding its engineering team from 200 to over 1000 engineers. Although I applied for an internship at GM many times, I was never successful. I went to grad school to continue developing my skills and experience.
When I was about to graduate in late 2019, I got a call from General Motors, interviewed for two positions and received an offer.
In the beginning, I was working on diagnostics for the braking systems. Eight months into the role, I transitioned to the Software Defined Vehicle and Operating System (SDV OS) department to work on the software integration for our advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). There are so many components to automated driving, and my group works to integrate these applications. We are improving the efficiency of integrating, testing and releasing the software.
What are the highlights of your job?
I am passionate about the automotive industry, and my work at GM allows me to seamlessly blend my passion, interests and skills, bringing unique value to the organization.
One of the most rewarding aspects is witnessing the impact of my contributions on the overall quality of our software, which is destined for a diverse portfolio of vehicles. A project I worked on is called Super Cruise – the world's first true hands-free driver assistance system for the freeway.
Beyond the work itself, the people on my team contribute to an incredible working environment.
This environment fosters continuous learning, empowering me to acquire new skills and take on meaningful projects. Moreover, it nurtures a healthy and harmonious community where we support one another's personal growth, making each of us a better person.
Working at GM has been a fulfilling journey, where I get to channel my enthusiasm for the automotive industry into valuable contributions and experience the positive influence of a supportive team.
Any advice for new students or new engineers?
There are a few pieces of advice I have for new students, beginning with the development of an integrated life that incorporates the things you value. It’s easy to get caught up in classes and assignments. Yet it’s essential to make time for the other things you value, such as health, family, friends and hobbies. Embracing this approach will not only bring joy to your life but also help counterbalance the stress that comes with accomplishing tasks.
Second is that the learning process holds more value than simply achieving good grades. True learning goes beyond chasing grades; it's about engaging with the material, nurturing curiosity and embracing the journey of our life-long knowledge acquisition.
Third: Serve others. There are many communities that thrive on campus, including student teams, research clusters and campus jobs. Engaging with the community helps you forge meaningful connections with others, while fostering a stronger sense of responsibility and purpose.
Fourth: Stay out of your comfort zone. The university years present an excellent opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and embark on a journey of self-discovery. Taking reasonable risks and exploring your passions can lead to profound learning experiences. While setbacks and failures may arise, they can be seen as valuable gems from which we gain wisdom.
Finally, connect with a mentor. I highly encourage you to join the Engineering Mentorship Program, where you'll collaborate closely with industry professionals to establish clear goals, explore diverse possibilities and embrace new experiences. I myself also serve as a mentor of one or two students each year, and I am always amazed by what they have achieved when they possess a compelling vision for their future and continuously execute their plans.