From competitive sports to performance engineered garments

"Make time for friends, movement, and 'me-time' " 

Sarah smiling while holding her dog, standing in front of trees and mountains
Hike in Seymour with Chili, my dog

Sara Bortolussi-Courval

  • Degree: Bachelor of Applied Science
  • Program: Integrated Engineering
  • Campus: Vancouver

Year: 4th Year

Chat with Sara


During my time in UBC Engineering, I initially gained experience from UBC Best's Design team as a Mechanical Engineer. Last year, I won the Third Place Prize at the National Medtech Hackathon, a post-graduate competition where I participated as one of only two undergraduate students. I interned at Stoko Design, a technical apparel company, and at The Center for Hip Health and Mobility, where I became the second author of a biomedical research paper. I also recently landed a Go-to-Market summer position at a company I've admired for years, Lululemon. Lastly, and arguably most meaningfully to me, I became a part-time spin instructor which has pushed me out of my comfort zone, allowed me to learn a ton about myself, and meet incredible, like-minded people.

How did you decide your current UBC Engineering discipline, or why did you choose UBC Engineering?

Transferring from a Quebec Cégep directly into an out-of-province second-year Engineering program was a big step for me. I initially chose Integrated Engineering to allow myself to glimpse all of the engineering disciplines that existed which were unknown to me as a transfer student. IGEN has allowed me to tailor my degree precisely to the field I want to work in, technical athletic apparel, which combines biomedical, mechanical, and material expertise. Integrated Engineering's entrepreneurial focus has also led me to pursue a minor in Commerce, to hopefully pivot my career toward technical apparel management and operations.

What has made your time at UBC Engineering memorable?

Winning the Third Place Prize at Medtech's National Post-Graduate Hackathon has been the academic highlight of my time at UBC. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone allowed me to develop self-confidence in my engineering abilities. Like many women in the field, I sometimes struggle with imposter syndrome and feel like I'm not smart enough to be doing the work that I do. Challenging myself, working hard, and then succeeding at something I never expected gave me a much-needed boost of self-confidence, which I have tried my best to carry with me throughout my engineering degree.

Tell us about your experience in your program. What have you learned that is most valuable?

The most helpful skill that I have learned is to be curious. Even if it isn't your favorite class, pretend to be curious. Convincing yourself that you're interested tricks your brain into listening more attentively, which helps your grades, and more importantly, your understanding of the subject.

What is one piece of advice you would share to a student entering UBC Engineering?

Making time to hang out with friends is so important. Taking small actions to maintain your physical and mental health is SO important. Choose a program where you know you will be able to make time for your needs and make them a priority right at the start.

Many of today’s jobs did not exist 10 years ago, and we do not know for certain what the workforce will look like 10 years from now. How do you see the remainder of your studies in the Faculty of Applied Science preparing you for the future of work?

Truly understanding engineering concepts rather than specific examples can take more time, but it allows you to apply your knowledge to an infinite number of problems. The Faculty of Applied Science is prepping me for the future of work by improving my problem-solving skills and increasing the number of tools I have at my disposal to solve any problem that comes my way.

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