Combining engineering with social innovation

"If you surround yourself with positive people who build you up, the sky is the limit." - Joel Brown

Bhushan Appadoo

Bhushan Appadoo

  • Degree: Bachelor of Applied Science
  • Grad year: 2021
  • Program:
  • Campus: Vancouver

Hi, my name is Bhushan! I grew up in Mauritius until the age of 12 and lived in Kenya, South Africa and the Philippines before moving to Vancouver in 2016. Residing in each of these countries played a significant role in developing my passions for education and international development. While living in South Africa, I had the opportunity to run Saturday workshops in elementary schools. This experience showed me how valuable it was to work with my community. Also, with my dad working for the Red Cross, I noticed firsthand the impact that the organization had on local communities and was inspired by how valuable their work was.

These experiences shaped my interests and drove me to join Engineers Without Borders (EWB) at UBC. It was the perfect club for me since I could work on international development and youth outreach programs. Through the club, I had the opportunity to run workshops for schools in Vancouver, meet entrepreneurs from various East African countries and participate in several EWB conferences. I got to be part of an amazing team passionate about driving change in our community.

As a new student joining UBC, I highly encourage you to join a club. Reflect on what you find fun and meaningful, and look for which club at UBC shares those same values. This will give you the platform to do meaningful work, provide you with opportunities (to learn, challenge yourself and grow) and meet like-minded people.

Bhushan Appadoo Engineers Without Borders

UBC Team in Montreal at the Engineers Without Borders Conference in 2019

Why did you choose to go into your field of study at UBC?

Throughout high school, I enjoyed sciences and hands-on projects. I believed that the perfect way to combine these interests was to study engineering. However, I did not know which specialization I wanted to pursue. I had several interests, but I did not feel particularly passionate about a specific field. This was one of the reasons that drew me to UBC’s engineering program. I thought that the general first-year program would give me time to understand what I wanted to study. However, first year was tough, both in terms of transition to university life and academics. Each week during APSC 101, there were presentations from various departments and each week, I was changing my mind on what I wanted to study.

To help with the decision, I identified some of the fields I was passionate about: environment, clean-tech, and energy. From there, I went through each department and chose the one that would allow me to work in all these fields — I chose Chemical Engineering. Due to its versatility, this degree would allow me to work in any of those fields and many others.

Looking back, I definitely believe I made the right choice. Not only was I able to work in those industries for my co-op term (and now new grad role), but I was also part of a supportive community of bright and driven individuals.

What has made your time at UBC memorable?

The people I met at UBC! From my very first day in the Jumpstart program, I got to meet so many amazing people who have helped me grow and develop over the last 5 years. Moving away from home as an international student is challenging, but the friends I have made here have been my family away from home.

At the end of the school year, I reflected on how much my peers and I improved, and it was quite amazing to see the progress over the past 5 years. From moving to a new city, landing our first internship after multiple setbacks, to completing entire capstone projects remotely, the growth in just 5 years has been tremendous. Whenever you feel that you are stagnating, take a step back and reflect on your journey.

“If you surround yourself with positive people who build you up, the sky is the limit." - Joel Brown

What advice would you give a student entering your degree program?

Don’t be afraid of failure, and don't compare yourself to others. During my first round of midterms, I remember doing terribly in most of them. It was a challenging time, and I questioned if I was good enough to be in the program. If you find yourself in this position, it is crucial to understand that everyone transitions and progresses at their own pace. Take advantage of the resources available to you: TAs, professors, and group study with your peers. I found it very motivating to be surrounded by hard-working people throughout my degree.

It is also vital to develop prioritization and time management skills. Throughout first year, my only focus during the week was university work, and I completely neglected my eating and workout habits. However, a big turning point for me was the following year. I was much more conscious of my health, and it improved my productivity significantly. Although I spent more time with EWB and being physically active, I performed much better during that school year. A balanced lifestyle is essential to improve your productivity. For students interested in this topic, I highly recommend attending Engi-You events, a student team with the aim of promoting wellness in the engineering community at UBC.

Where do you find your inspiration for using your degree to make an impact on our world?

I find inspiration from the people around me. My parents showed me the value of hard work from an early age. They inspired me to strive towards my goals, work hard and be grateful for the opportunities that I have. My peers at UBC showed me the importance of self-confidence. Being in a demanding program like engineering will challenge you. It is important to learn from your mistakes, reach out for help when uncertain and believe in your abilities. Lastly, my professors and mentors showed me the importance of thinking critically and asking tough questions. When working on any complex problems, it is key to understand the entire landscape to tackle the root of the problems effectively. To truly understand a problem and develop an effective solution, curiosity and critical thinking are key.

What are your future plans to make a difference in our world?

I will begin my career in engineering consulting as part of an environmental team working on greenhouse gas emissions. I believe this is an extremely important field to work on, and I'm excited to be kicking off my career in a field that will have to tackle complex problems.

Find me on:  LinkedIn

Student in a lab using a micropipette.

Chemical Engineering

Play a role in research; engineer safer, greener product formulations and processes; and help discover and develop new ways to minimize society’s environmental footprint, while maximizing value in the real world.

Chemical Engineering

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