Ashraf Ahsan, MASc '19, School of Engineering

“I aspire to bridge gaps between different groups or disciplines to solve modern problems with simpler solutions, which can be obtained through collaboration.”

Ashraf Ahsan

Ashraf Ahsan

  • Degree: Master of Applied Science
  • Grad year: 2019
  • Program: Electrical Engineering
  • Campus: Okanagan

I’m a graduating student from the Electrical Engineering program at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus. I grew up in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, where I lived with my family. I have always been passionate about team sports such as basketball and football. One of my favorite pastimes is to spend time with my family and hang out with friends.

Coming to UBC for graduate studies and research was a dream that came true. Over the past two years, I have studied the vibrational character of thin-films of carbon using Raman spectroscopy in order to relate the form of the Raman spectrum to its material properties.

I have served the graduate community of 800+ students as one of the two Graduate Community Facilitators. My role has allowed me to interact with graduate students and staff from all the various department on campus. I have worked towards creating a vibrant campus life for everyone by hosting monthly events for all the graduate students and their families. I have also acted as the Vice President, External for the Engineering Graduate Students Society (EGSS), where I helped organize the largest engineering graduate students’ symposium on campus, by collaborating with industry partners and researchers. I support the exam invigilation team for the Disability Resource Centre at UBCO — to create a more accommodating environment that allows students to reach their full potentials.

UBC Okanagan is an amazing place filled with numerous opportunities for those who are actively seeking to get involved. I have had a memorable graduate experience with so many wonderful individuals to thank for it.

Why did you choose engineering?

I’ve always had an interest in science and mathematics. I performed well in school and found myself very comfortable with new technologies, to the extent that I would start troubleshooting small issues for my family and friends. Towards the end of high school, I began to notice the growing need for engineers in the modern world — it seemed evident that most of the amazing innovations were due to a group of engineers working towards achieving something great. To some extent, the culture in Bangladesh motivated me to choose electrical engineering, complemented by the fact that modern engineers need to gain a stronghold in both the hardware and software industries.

What has made your time at the School of Engineering most memorable?

The School of Engineering is one of the biggest departments in UBCO, with students from all around the world. I really enjoyed meeting all these new people and learning from their diverse backgrounds. Being the Vice President, External for the EGSS has allowed me to meet and work with both the graduate and also the undergraduate students to improve the campus experience. EGSS provided me with the opportunity to make many wonderful friends. The resources available for graduate students, such as office spaces, training, library and database accesses, supervisors, administrative support members and lounges, have made my time at the School of Engineering very memorable.

What has been your most memorable/valuable non-academic experience studying engineering at UBC?

UBC’s Okanagan campus now has over 800 graduate students, and I had the opportunity to become one of the only two Graduate Community Facilitators. I loved being a part of the organizing team for so many fun first-time events that on campus for graduate students. I learned and developed my skills throughout the whole process due to various on-the-job training, handling of the budget, coordinating the event logistics, meeting and reporting to supervisor. It was wonderful to see the impact that these events were able to make on the campus life and experience of the graduate community.

What advice would you give a student considering a graduate degree in engineering?

In my opinion, grad school can be a flexible journey where a lot of progress depends on the students and their habits. The School of Engineering at UBCO offers a number of opportunities that can be found by students who are actively seeking them. Overall, I have found that communicating effectively and building a strong network with colleagues and supervisors can enable one to attain a smooth experience. Students have to opportunity to get involved in both academic and non-academic initiatives to build an inclusive engineering graduate community. The teaching assistantship (TA) opportunities can help the graduate students to help share their engineering knowledge to the younger students while gaining valuable experience for their careers as TAs.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I am very fortunate to have access to all these resources and opportunities both on and off campus due to UBC. These experiences could also be valuable to the thousands of students around the globe who are also trying their best and working hard to reach similar goals. I find my inspiration in them and from my mother, who is always very optimistic, persistent and never stops trying to help me with my ambitions. I believe ‘when there is a will, there is a way!’

How will you go on to make a difference in our world?

I aspire to bridge gaps between different groups or disciplines to solve modern problems with simpler solutions, which can be obtained through collaboration. I have a passion for process development in order to streamline operations. The aim is to stay involved and develop my skills to play a role in achieving a greater purpose by making a difference everywhere life takes me.

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