Being Part Of An Engineering Consulting Firm Is A Non-Stop Learning Experience

"If you are remotely interested in any of the STEM subjects, choose engineering because it changes you – both as a person and how you think."

Pavni Agarwal

Pavni Agarwal

Job: Electrical Designer at Smith + Andersen

Tell us about your job at Smith + Andersen.

I am an electrical designer at Smith + Andersen, an engineering consulting firm with offices across Canada. As part of the electrical team, I work on all aspects of electrical systems for various types of buildings, from new high-rise towers to improvements on existing buildings. This can include the layout of electrical rooms, fire alarm design, lighting control solutions and more. 

What I like about this work is that you get to see what you are designing – it’s very tangible. I can look at a building and know that I had a hand in putting together its electrical systems. 

I’m very interested in energy efficiency and finding ways to make buildings more sustainable. Smith + Andersen is a leader in this area, and our clients are interested in integrating technologies from solar panels to LED lighting. 

I also enjoy coordinating with architects and the other engineering disciplines, like the mechanical engineers. 

Building systems are all interrelated, so as a small example, we need to make sure we aren’t placing receptacles where they will have a structural impact. I find this all very interesting and it’s great to work with people with other areas of expertise.

Finally, I love this work because every day is different. We work on lots of projects and there is always so much to learn. 

Smith + Andersen

Why engineering is a versatile and future-proof degree

Were you always interested in being an engineer?

My dad is a mechanical engineer, and growing up I had a lot of admiration for how he thought about things and approached problems. 

So, I always had it in the back of my mind that engineering could be an option. In high school I was interested in STEM subjects like math and science, and an aptitude test in Grade 11 confirmed that I am a logical thinker – engineering was therefore an obvious path!

Questions about engineering

How did you choose UBC and Electrical Engineering?

I grew up in India and I wanted to come to Canada. 

The UBC campus in Kelowna appealed to me because I am also from a smaller city. 

I wanted to live in a more laidback environment and be part of a smaller community where it would be easier to get to know my professors and classmates. 

As for choosing electrical engineering? UBC has a general first-year curriculum for engineering where you get introduced to all the different disciplines. That helped me identify where my passions are. Everything to do with electrical engineering just clicked for me.

Electrical engineering  First-year

Student centred learning at UBCO

How was the move to Canada?

What helped me right from the beginning was the Engineering Mentoring Program. I connected by email with my mentor before I came to Canada and that support was really helpful when I arrived. In my second year, I volunteered with the program so I could help others.

Engineering Mentoring Program

Did you do co-op?

I did, and I would 100% recommend co-op to everyone. There’s a big difference between the work you do in school and the work you do in the industry. You learn so much in your co-op positions. 

Engineering is such a vast field with so many opportunities, and co-op is a great way to figure out what kind of work you like and don’t like. 

I had positions as an undergraduate research assistant at a lab here at UBC Okanagan, and then worked for FortisBC and two separate engineering consulting firms.

Co-op  FortisBC

Why Co-op? Launch Your Career While Still A Student

Any advice for others who are considering engineering? 

If you are remotely interested in any of the STEM subjects, choose engineering because it changes you – both as a person and how you think. 

The engineering mindset, with its focus on asking why, reasoning things through, thinking logically and weighing the pros and cons of alternatives, is very valuable. 

It’s changed me – even in terms of how I make decisions in my personal life! 

Electrical engineering student working on her circuit board

Electrical Engineering

Electrical engineers impact almost every aspect of our lives. They make essential medical equipment, design wireless communications networks, predict earthquakes, and invent new ways to generate and conserve energy.

Electrical Engineering

Discover UBC Applied Science Alumni

Whether you’re a nursing, planning, architecture or engineering graduate, the alumni network is one of the most powerful benefits of your UBC education.

Get Connected
UBC Crest The official logo of the University of British Columbia. Arrow An arrow indicating direction. Arrow in Circle An arrow indicating direction. Caret An arrowhead indicating direction. E-commerce Cart A shopping cart. Time A clock. Chats Two speech clouds. Facebook The logo for the Facebook social media service. Social Media The globe is the default icon for a social media platform. TikTok The logo for the TikTok social media platform. Calendar Location Home A house in silhouette. Information The letter 'i' in a circle. Instagram The logo for the Instagram social media service. Linkedin The logo for the LinkedIn social media service. Location Pin A map location pin. Mail An envelope. Telephone An antique telephone. Play A media play button. Search A magnifying glass. Arrow indicating share action A directional arrow. Speech Bubble A speech bubble. Star An outline of a star. Twitter The logo for the Twitter social media service. Urgent Message An exclamation mark in a speech bubble. User A silhouette of a person. Vimeo The logo for the Vimeo video sharing service. Youtube The logo for the YouTube video sharing service. Future of work A logo for the Future of Work category. Inclusive leadership A logo for the Inclusive leadership category. Planetary health A logo for the Planetary health category. Solutions for people A logo for the Solutions for people category. Thriving cities A logo for the Thriving cities category. University for future A logo for the University for future category.