Engineering Is About Developing Effective And Accessible Solutions

"I want my work to help a lot of people, have minimal long-term environmental impact, and have nature as a guide when designing."

Goksu Dilek

Goksu Dilek

Why did you want to study engineering?

I have always been very interested in chemistry and biology and I imagined a career in biochemistry or environmental science. I studied International Baccalaureate Physics and Math HL in high school, and my physics teacher suggested that I look into different engineering programs. When I stumbled upon chemical and biological engineering in particular, I thought that it could be the right place for me.

How did you decide on UBC?

Vancouver is a long way from my home in Turkey! My older sister was a student at UBC and I visited her here before the pandemic. I loved the UBC campus and meeting new people in the community. I was also fascinated by the sights in Vancouver. 

It is important to remember that when you choose a university, you’re also choosing a city to make your new home for the next couple of years, so it’s important that you can imagine yourself being happy there. 

How did you choose Chemical and Biological Engineering? 

I was leaning towards Chemical and Biological Engineering (CHBE) when I came to UBC Engineering, because I saw it as a specialization that aligned with my values and interest in sustainability. In first year, I attended CHBE meet and greets and got to meet many upper-year CHBE students and professors. The department culture and student dynamics are supportive and everyone wants to see each other succeed.

I am happy that CHBE is working hard to create a diverse cohort with a curriculum tailored to foster innovative and sustainable engineering design solutions. 

Chemical and Biological Engineering

What are some of the highlights of your university education so far?

In APSC 100, students are put into teams and their first task is to design and build a chair made from cardboard only. Completing this project taught me that it’s one thing to learn about statics and force distribution in high school physics, and another to apply this knowledge to create a chair that can withstand the weight of a teammate jumping on it! I really enjoyed the prototyping process and I am grateful that we got to work in a team environment so early on.

Another project that stands out was designing a bioprocess to produce bacterial cellulose to be used in the textile industry in a second-year CHBE course. We had to come up with the entire manufacturing process, from extracting materials and choosing a reactor type to calculating energy use and costs.

It was a great technical project because it required us to consider every element involved in developing a sustainable and reproducible process with a high-quality output. 

APSC 100

Tell us about your co-op experience.

I am currently working at the Zandstra Laboratory at UBC, where we focus on developing processes to engineer stem cells for cellular therapeutics. This isn’t necessarily the area I want to specialize in, but it’s been an incredible learning experience and I get to work with so many amazing and accomplished people. I’ve learned a lot about technical communication and presenting results from wet lab experiments, and have broadened my knowledge and interest in biotechnology.

Zandstra Laboratory


Goksu with her Zandstra team having ice-cream

You’ve been very active in a design team. Tell us about it!

In second year I applied to be a part of Chem-E-Car, which is a student engineering design team building a shoebox-sized car powered and stopped by chemical reactions. 

In April, we competed in Oregon and in November 2023, we are going to a nationals competition in Florida.

 I’m the Laboratory Sub-Team Lead this year, in charge of building the “braking” system for the car. Since the car is chemically powered, the chemical reaction’s completion rate is what stops the car. You find out the distance that the car needs to stop at on the day of the competition, so you need to have done a lot of testing before then to build a reliable calibration curve. This determines the concentration of chemicals that go into the reaction and it’s crucial to get this right to do well in the competition. Lots of the cars end up moving, but not all of them stop successfully! 

Chem-E-Car is a team of about 25. There are four sub-teams with five or six people on each, which gives you many opportunities to connect with other students and make a significant contribution to the car. The competitions are really fun and rewarding. 

We all work really hard on our car and on the reaction and there is no way I would’ve missed seeing it in action. 



Gosku with her Chem E-Car team

What’s ahead for you?

I would like to explore and expand on my passion for sustainability by pursuing a minor in environment and sustainability. I am also very interested in working with certain labs and professors at UBC that are focused on areas such as biodiversity conservation and green energy. In addition to continuing working at Chem-E-Car, I’d like to complete as many co-op terms as I can, to find a path that is right for me after graduation. 

Minor In Environment And Sustainability  Co-op

Any idea of what kind of impact you’d like to make with your engineering degree?

For me, engineering is about developing effective and accessible solutions to big problems. Wherever I end up and in whatever field – be that the medical industry, renewable energy, environmental conservation, waste management or something else entirely – I want my work to help a lot of people, have minimal long-term environmental impact, and have nature as a guide when designing.

Any advice for new students?

If you enjoy math and physics in high school, you will probably enjoy first year engineering. 

After that you get to choose a path and customize your degree a little more. It is a lot of work, but the challenge and struggle pay off and can help you form strong connections with other students – we’re in this together!

Student in a lab holding a mini Erlenmeyer flask.

Chemical and Biological Engineering

Chemical and biological engineers will be equipped to excel in a number of fast-growing and highly paid fields, including biotechnology, food, environmental services, bioenergy, forestry, biopharmaceuticals, health care and biomedical engineering.

Chemical and Biological Engineering

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