“Engineering is almost like an art, requiring you to be creative with your solutions and work in a team to bring your ideas to life.” Meet Miklos Sunario, entrepreneur and UBC Engineering student.
- Degree: Bachelor of Applied Science
- Campus: Vancouver
Year: 2nd year
Why did you want to study engineering?
I was initially interested in studying business because of its interpersonal component and I assumed that science and engineering didn’t have that. But what I came to realize in high school is that engineering is not just about numbers and that it is very much about solving problems, working in teams and critical thinking. Engineering was a place where I could make a difference in the world by honing my problem-solving skills.
Why did you choose UBC?
I was accepted on scholarship at some other universities, but I chose UBC because of what I’d heard about the UBC experience. I wanted a university that prioritized student learning and student mental health. My experience is that UBC is a very welcoming place. The student life and academic balance is really good, and they’re very supportive of student initiatives. UBC also has a strong international reputation.
Was engineering what you thought it would be?
My first APSC 100 class was one of the few times I’ve been genuinely surprised by what I’m learning. Even though I knew that engineering would teach me to solve problems, I was surprised by the extent to which the instructors taught us how to use the design cycle process to make decisions.
The project-based learning in my first-year classes was really exciting, especially compared to high school where the focus was on theory or memorization. In APSC 160, for example, we learned coding through trial and error rather than listening to a lecture. We were given a lot of problems to solve with very little guidance, and encouraged to develop our own processes. That’s the kind of learning and exploration that appeals to me.
What have been some of the highlights of your education?
Introduction to Engineering Design (IGEN 230) was a great course. We had to build and program a robot car to follow a line track. To do that, we had to integrate our knowledge of the different disciplines of coding, mechanics, hardware and electrical circuits. This is just one of many examples of how the best solutions come when you incorporate different knowledge systems.
Have you learned new ways of thinking as an engineer?
I’ve learned to think more analytically. Before, my tendency was to prototype everything, which was often inefficient and used up a lot of time and resources. I now start with the understanding that everything has flaws and that I should take the time to identify them before developing a full solution or prototype. This has been a very helpful approach when developing my business, EduBeyond.
Tell us about your business.
I am a co-founder of EduBeyond, a company I started in high school with two friends. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic we created a non-profit global tutoring company. EduBeyond evolved out of that when we realized we could have a greater impact by using leading-edge technology to address education disparities, particularly for students from low-income families.
We are creating a gamified learning experience that can be implemented within any education environment. The idea is that students will get that serotonin boost needed to keep them motivated and engaged. We are working with researchers at Harvard, Berkeley, UBC and the University of Toronto to ensure our product is aligned with the latest research in educational psychology and is using the right educational and AI tools to maximize learning and retention.
In November 2022, EduBeyond won the Moonshot Learning Award. In a competition of 1500 start-ups in 88 countries, we were honoured to be named the most promising education company in the world. As part of the award we presented our work to the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations. We’ve also shared our product with the Indonesian parliament and hope to launch it in that country.
How do you juggle running a company and going to school full time?
It’s all about balance and priorities. To me, this entrepreneurship opportunity is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. In the fall semester I travelled to Singapore and Indonesia for two weeks, New York City for a week and San Francisco for another. This meant missing school. I made sure to talk with my professors and the dean about my absences, and they were very understanding.
Have you been involved in any school activities?
In my first year I was the president of the UBC Engineering Undergraduate Society First Year Council. This was a super experience that included a lot of mentorship from older engineering students. It also taught me some basics about administration, running meetings and overall responsibilities that have helped me with my business.
Do you have any goals for your time as an engineering student?
I want people to understand that engineering is almost like an art, requiring you to be creative with your solutions and work in a team to bring your ideas to life. I think that the more people are aware of this – that engineering is more than just a math or science degree – the more they would be interested in pursuing engineering, which would also open many doors for them.
Do you have a dream job?
I feel like I am in my dream job. I love what I’m doing and am excited about the possibilities for EduBeyond and building it into something that will flourish. I want to continue being an entrepreneur and seeing where that takes me.
Anything else you want to add?
Engineering is a great place to meet people. It brings together many different types of students who have an incredibly diverse variety of interests. At the end of the day, one of the biggest things you take away from university is the connections you make, and I’m so grateful to UBC Engineering for that.
In early January 2023, Miklos was selected to be one of 27 Cansbridge Fellows. The Cansbridge Fellowship is a program that empowers young Canadians to become global leaders. Cansbridge Fellows spend a week in Silicon Valley, complete a summer internship in Asia and benefit from ongoing mentoring and networking opportunities.