An engineering degree is more than just the academics

“Make the most out of every opportunity – you get out what you put in.”

UBC Mechanical Engineering student Pheobe Cheung

Phoebe Cheung

Going into engineering, I knew that it would not be an easy degree. I genuinely enjoyed what I studied, however, making it a lot more manageable. I will forever be grateful for all the support I received from my family, friends, professors, and mentors to help me succeed academically and become a better engineer.

After five years at UBC, I am graduating from Mechanical Engineering in the Biomechanics and Medical Devices option. Since first year, I have been an active member of the UBC community, and I was able to explore my interests through a variety of experiences during my undergraduate degree. I had the opportunity to work in the medical devices industry, experience research in the soft robotics field, and be part of UBC AeroDesign. Needless to say,

I have made the most out of my time here at UBC, and I cannot wait to explore what the future holds for me beyond my mechanical engineering degree.

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

In first year, I had a chance to learn about the biomedical side of engineering through BMEG 101/102. I was particularly drawn to the biomechanics part of it, and mechanical engineering offered a specialization in exactly that. Additionally, I was enjoying my time on the mechanical subteam on UBC AeroDesign, which further solidified my choice to study mechanical engineering. I also spoke with senior MECH students and attended the program fair, and from there, I was confident that mechanical engineering was the right path for me to pursue my interests.

Mechanical Engineering

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UBC AeroDesign Engineering Student Design Team
Image credit: instagram.com/ubcaerodesign

What has made your time at UBC memorable?

My time on UBC AeroDesign has been one of the most memorable parts of my degree. I was part of the team since first year, working on the mechanical/airfoils subteam, and I had the honour of serving as team captain for two years. Being part of AeroDesign gave me the opportunity to be involved in a large-scale design project from start to finish, especially since we run on a year-long design cycle. And of course, the phenomenal and supportive team community is one of the things I love about AeroDesign.

One of my favourite memories on the team was attending my first test flight. It was a very rewarding experience to watch the plane take flight after all the hours we had put into designing and building the aircraft. Despite the late nights and (not so) occasional crashes, I enjoyed every moment with the team, and it is certainly one of the highlights of my time at UBC.

Engineering Design Teams

How are you applying the skills you've learned?

I became team captain of AeroDesign at the start of the pandemic when we could no longer be on campus for design team work sessions and virtual meetings became the norm. It was something that I certainly did not expect to have to learn to navigate through as part of my degree. In addition to training new members virtually, ensuring design tasks are being completed efficiently, and working with APSC to eventually transition back to in-person work, I also wanted to make sure the team maintained a strong sense of community despite the online environment. This experience has not only taught me to become a better leader, but it also allowed me to realize the importance of communication, adaptability, and resiliency.

What advice would you give to first-year engineering students?

You are not alone in your engineering degree - reach out early and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Everyone around you wants you to succeed. Don’t forget that there’s more to your degree than passing all your courses. Step out of your comfort zone and try new things, whether that is joining a design team, going abroad for work/study, or working in a research lab. Your time at UBC will fly by quickly, so be sure to make the most out of the numerous opportunities available to you.

Most importantly, be proud of all that you have accomplished, no matter how big or small.

How would you describe the MECH student community?

The student community within MECH was very welcoming and inclusive. I have met some of the most amazing and supportive friends throughout my degree, whether it was bonding through the seemingly endless pile of homework or celebrating the end of a successful term. There were also many opportunities to meet upper year students who were always happy to provide advice and answer questions about school, work, and life in general.

I would never have made it this far without the support of all my peers!

How did your studies in the Faculty of Applied Science prepare you for the future of work?

Despite the constantly evolving field of engineering, the skills I have developed throughout my studies has prepared me for my future career. From learning how to learn through my engineering courses to understanding what it takes to lead a multidisciplinary team through UBC AeroDesign, I have the fundamentals needed to be a successful engineer.

Additionally, both my co-op and capstone experiences have given me a glimpse of life in industry. What’s most important is being able to adapt to changes that come my way and staying strong to my core values.

Two UBC mechanical engineering students prepare for the autonomous landing platform competition.

Mechanical Engineering

As a student in UBC’s Mechanical Engineering stream, you’ll begin by mastering the fundamentals, building a knowledge base in solid mechanics, fluid mechanics, dynamics, thermodynamics, vibrations, heat transfer, controls and design.As a student in UBC’s Mechanical Engineering stream, you’ll begin by mastering the fundamentals, building a knowledge base in solid mechanics, fluid mechanics, dynamics, thermodynamics, vibrations, heat transfer, controls and design.

Mechanical Engineering

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