Come To UBC And Do It All!

"You don't build a project alone – you are always building it with others."

Heanan Bird

Heanan Bird

Why did you want to study engineering?

I was influenced from a young age by my grandfather and uncles who were engineers. My mom has pictures of me playing with toy drills that I would use to “repair” the house when I was a baby. But when I got older, I became enamoured with the opportunity for teamwork that comes with engineering. You don't build a project alone – you are always building it with others. I’ve always found the most gratifying projects and endeavours have been those where I get to work with others.

Why did you decide on UBC Engineering?

I grew up in Olympia, Washington, so UBC was just across the border. One reason I chose UBC was for the opportunity to study abroad for a semester. I also wanted to be part of UBC Okanagan, which I feel is something of an overlooked gem. I liked the idea of being part of a smaller community where you can get to know your professors and classmates. Plus, the outdoor opportunities in the Okanagan are incredible.

Coordinated International Experience

What are some highlights of your engineering education?

In my second year, we built a testing apparatus to monitor single-event upsets, which are events in microelectronics where radiation interferes with central processing. Error-correcting software can handle this in most cases, but sometimes it can’t. We designed an experiment to study single-event upsets that brought together work we’d done in prior years, including computer aided design, dynamics and statics. Our group qualified for the Canadian Stratospheric Balloon Experiment Design Challenge to launch the apparatus with the Canadian Space Agency in September 2022 and collect data that could be used to develop protective techniques to store data on satellites, rovers and space telescopes.

Another highlight was a multi-variable calculus class. Honestly, this was the greatest class ever. Usually, multi-variable calculus can be a difficult and/or boring but Dr. Yang Cao has the amazing ability to communicate abstract concepts in very engaging ways. You cannot believe how interesting and fun this class was!

Canadian Stratospheric Balloon Experiment Design ChallengeDr. Yang Cao

Tell us about your experience studying abroad.

I studied for one semester at the Technical University of Denmark, where I took courses that included machine learning, data analytics and Internet of Things. While I was there, I took every opportunity to travel, going as far south as Greece, and east to Lithuania and Bulgaria. It’s amazing that you can hop on a plane and be in a different country with a very different culture, history and set of values.

One of the most valuable experiences in university is deepening your cultural perspectives and the broader world in general. UBC offers a lot of experiences to make that happen.

Technical University of Denmark

Tell us about your co-op experiences

My first co-op job was as a Manufacturing Engineer with Collins Aerospace, building aerospace generators. I am currently working as an Analytics Engineer at Seeq Corporation, where I am combining the skills I gained in the machine learning classes I took in Denmark with the manufacturing knowledge from my first co-op experience. Co-op is a fantastic way to apply the knowledge you’re gaining in your courses and to start understanding where you might want to pursue a career.

Co-op ProgramCollins AerospaceSeeq Corporation

Heanan at Collins Aerospace

Tell us about some of the extracurriculars you’ve been involved with.

I work as a Residence Advisor. It’s an amazing role and I love doing my part to create a welcoming, wonderful and creative community for other students. I get to work with my friends and run programs to enrich the lives of students every day. It’s great.

Residence Advisor

What are some of the skills you’ve developed in your engineering education?

As I mentioned earlier, one of the things that attracted me to engineering was its emphasis on teamwork.

My education at UBC has helped me develop those skills – to communicate, manage projects and resolve conflicts. It’s good to practice and develop those skills in lower stakes situations like a university class, so that you’re prepared to be part of a profession where the consequences of your decisions can put lives on the line.

What’s next for you after you graduate in May 2024?

It’s hard to know where I will end up. I am really enjoying my current co-op position where I am applying analytics tools to manufacturing data. But so many things interest me. I’d like to work in the aerospace industry and I am also interested in doing a master’s or PhD.

Any advice for other students considering UBC?

Come to UBC and do it all!

Don’t worry about failing. Last year, for example, I entered a series of programming competitions, and I did terrible in the first two before finally doing well in the third. And now, as a co-op student I am spending my time programming cool things for a software company. You never know what will happen.

If there’s something you are even slightly interested in – whether studying abroad, co-op, clubs, a campus job, a class – just do it.

You will grow and learn from all these experiences. And in the end, it will make you a better person and maybe even a better engineer.

UBC manufacturing engineering students

Manufacturing Engineering

Students in the Manufacturing program will gain broad exposure to foundational engineering disciplines, and training across a range of major manufacturing processes and platforms, and instruction in production management and modern manufacturing...

Manufacturing Engineering

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