Engineering is a team sport

"It was important for me to know that when I came to campus I would be engaged as part of a community, not just as part of a class."

Shannon Smyth

Shannon Smyth

I have always been a person who wants to do everything – I did go into IGEN, after all, and plannned out my electives solely based on what looked cool to learn about. But my time at the University of British Columbia (UBC) was mostly marked by what I did outside of the classroom: two years in Mars Colony, five in the engineering sorority Alpha Omega Epsilon, and consistent involvement with the Engineering Undergraduate Society.

In all these groups I held various volunteer and leadership roles, but I’m most proud of being the A.O.E. President in my final year. Being part of these groups is how I found my footing as a student, as a professional and as a person. It was also how I learned to balance playing hard with working hard – EUS Caroling remains my favorite day of the year (sorry if we woke you up). 

I also went through the co-op program, and learned a lot there about what kind of engineering work I want to do after graduating. I love the design process and want to mix my technical knowledge with my creativity while making a positive impact in clean energy and/or space. I’m looking forward to finding out what exactly that means for me and my future career. 

Alpha Omega Epsilon - ETA Chapter

Why did you choose to study Integrated Engineering? 

In high school, I attended an open house and campus tour for students who’d been accepted to UBC Engineering. Of all the schools I looked at, UBC had the most student involvement in leading those tours and the clearest look at what my undergrad could be like beyond just academics. A year later, watching IGEN’s 2019 FilmfEUSt (a parody of Ocean’s Eleven) made it my top pick – and after a little more research into the program I was even more certain. Great academic and professional programs are everywhere, but it was important for me to know that when I came to campus I would be engaged as part of a community, not just as part of a class.   

Integrated Engineering

What has made your time at UBC memorable? 

The best part of the IGEN program is that we do three major student-led projects, one in each year. And unlike most other capstones, all the ideas are pitched by the students themselves. It was truly amazing to go into the clubroom and watch everyone’s work progress as the year went on. Toward the end, there would be days where the space was just filled with groups putting on the finishing touches, even spilling out into the MacMillan hallways if there wasn’t enough room. It was stressful and a little chaotic, but still somehow a highlight. 

What advice would you give incoming engineering students? 

Number one: Get involved with a campus group. It could be a design team or an engineering club, but it doesn’t have to be! There are a million AMS clubs to align with any activity you can imagine. Putting yourself out there and taking on leadership roles will teach you how to problem-solve and interact with such a variety of different people.

Number two: Challenge yourself to learn beyond what you do in class. The IGEN clubroom has an incredible machine and electronics shop, and it continues to grow every year. Build things, get creative and learn to weld! It’s an amazing resource, but you need to be proactive to make full use of it. 

How would you describe the student community within Integrated Engineering? 

The IGEN student community is full of people who want to help you - whether it’s tutoring sessions for the most difficult second-year classes, passing down used textbooks, or creating the most in-depth technical elective review system I’ve ever seen. In some classes, we’re seen as the underdogs, so we look to each other to excel.

Where do you find your inspiration for using your degree to make an impact on our world? 

I am constantly inspired by my peers. In my time at UBC, I have met so many brilliant, kind, dedicated people who embody the most important quality of a good engineer: they step up. They put in the effort, both personal and professional, to solve the issues that they see before them. They seek new perspectives, learn from their failures and approach their work with the intention to do good.

What are some contributions you would like to make when it comes to the future of work in your field? 

I would like to contribute to encouraging a healthy work-life balance: doing what needs to be done while at work, but setting a strong boundary when it comes to the weekends or time off. With design engineering, there aren’t many reasons for someone to be on-call at all times. The focus should be on completing tasks well and on schedule, not on busy work to fill up a slow day or forcing more work than one person can achieve. Nobody benefits from burnout. 

A UBC integrated engineering student describing her capstone project named iGrow.

Integrated Engineering

Integrated Engineering graduates excel in diverse fields of engineering including construction, product/project management, manufacturing, advanced technology development and resource industries.

Integrated Engineering

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