Digging deep into applied science

"Every new experience builds character."

Katrijn, standing in front of a river, smiling
Katrijn is currently working in the UBC Co-op program, exploring the intersection of geosciences and engineering.

Katrijn Bjornson

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

Year: 4th Year

Chat with Katrijn


I joined UBC Engineering because I knew that it would be a challenge. I love regular physical sciences, but I wanted to take it one step further and learn to apply science, specifically in relation to earth issues. Outside of my courses, I have been utilizing the opportunities that UBC offers that match up with my interests. I am enrolled in the Co-op program and am working for the next year, and I plan to do a Go Global study abroad experience in the future. I knew from the start that I would likely take 5+ years to complete my degree - but I’m happy to gain the experiences I want along the way.

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

I was lucky to spend so much time outdoors growing up. This felt so natural to me, and I didn’t think twice about it… until it came time to choose my discipline. I tried to picture myself in the different specialties of engineering, but nothing felt “right” even if I loved the course content. I decided to envision my ideal work environment, and I felt a pull toward field work and being outdoors. Once I figured this out I couldn’t picture myself in any other work condition. I also loved earth sciences, along with physics and biology, and already spent time outside of school learning about nature and geological topics. Geological engineering is notorious for having tight-knit, outdoorsy students, so I was thrilled to join.

What has made your time at UBC Engineering memorable?

All the events I’ve attended have allowed me to meet such interesting people. Within Geological Engineering, we have many social events through our student club GeoRox, and these have become a highlight of my degree. From social meetups to Christmas in March, it’s a wonderful opportunity to mingle with all years of study and forget about school for a minute. Meeting people through general engineering events (like E-Week, a week-long social event for all engineering students to get together) or Alma Mater Society (UBC Student Government) events is something I look back on fondly as well. Attending these events or joining clubs is what I’ve found to be the best way to make new friends.

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

Ultimately, I have seen time and time again the value of learning from others. When working in a group,  listen to what each person has to say. Include everyone and understand that diversity is not only important but incredibly beneficial. The more background experiences that a group has, the more ground they can cover together. I love seeing the end product where everyone learned from each other, and, hopefully, made new friends. Don’t underestimate looking into other interests, especially those in different majors. All of this helps you become a more well-rounded learner.

What resources or events organized by UBC Engineering have helped you in your academic, professional or entrepreneurial journey thus far?

The professors at UBC are very accommodating as they want every student to apply themselves and do their best. Attending office hours, reaching out through emails for help, or taking other steps to get additional support from instructors will help you make a connection and get to know the amazing people who teach us. They are very knowledgeable and have many life stories you can learn from.

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

Finding a good group of people to study with is super beneficial. I wish I had spent more time in my first year in study groups and working with others on homework. While independent study is essential, having a group of classmates to work on problems and compare answers with helps you learn in a different way - and you make new friends! On the same note, finding a group of friends to do physical activity or other hobbies with helps motivate you to take mental breaks. It’s important to step back from school and focus on something else!

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?

The development of geological job opportunities is incredible and not limited to oil/gas or exploration anymore. It’s still growing today and is predicted to blow up further over the next 10 years. UBC’s Geological Engineering program is growing alongside the industry, and it’s set up to help the students prepare for their transition into the workforce. I loved my experience in the field schools, which are super fun and great for learning hands-on fieldwork. They are also recognized by employers for being amazing learning opportunities and so UBC is notorious for its geological program. I am excited for my fourth year where I will complete the capstone project and get to work on one of the versatile geological engineering projects from the real world.

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