Engiprenuership: when engineering meets entrepreneurship

“So often we are scared to start pursuing our dreams and make a difference in the world – in fear that we may not be 100% ready to do so yet... However, what I’ve learned is that we may never be 'ready', but that doesn’t mean we can’t start anyways."

Matthew Primeau

Matthew Primeau

Hi, I’m Matthew! I sometimes describe myself as an ‘Engipreneur’ – which is what you get when you take an engineer down the entrepreneurial path. I am driven to make a positive impact within the world, in a manner that is socially and environmentally conscious. My mission in life is to leave every person and place I come across more empowered and balanced than when I first found them.

For the past two years, I have been simultaneously a graduate student at UBC studying a Masters in Engineering Leadership: Clean Energy and a full-time entrepreneur, co-founding and leading operations at a circular economy start-up called Scrapless. In the past I have worked and volunteered far and wide across the engineering industry; from advocacy work with Engineers Without Borders Canada, project management for a medium-sized enterprise, design consultation for a large industrial corporation, to on the ground construction labour (admittedly, I wasn’t great at that last this one – but I did learn a lot!).

My passions are environmental sustainability, renewable energy, circular economy, entrepreneurship, philosophy, mindfulness, healthy living, and self-growth. I work hard every day to craft a career for myself that will bring all of these passions together.

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

Ever since I was a kid, I was destined to pursue a career in green technology. From early childhood memories of my grandmother teaching me to repurpose and recycle old margarine containers, to spending summers at my family’s cottage catching (and releasing) insects and fish — I was raised with such a high appreciation for nature, balance, and sustainable living. These appreciations led me to pursue engineering as a means for me to contribute to solving some of the larger problems facing our planet. After obtaining my undergraduate degree in Architectural Conservation and Sustainability Engineering, it was never certain for me that I would eventually go back to study for a master's degree. The spark that made me want to deepen my engineering knowledge came when I learned of UBC’s Master of Engineering Leadership Program in Clean Energy. What attracted me to the program was that is offered a balance of technical engineering expertise, business and entrepreneurial acumen, and political literacy. I knew that to become the environmental leader I strive to become, I would need such a well-rounded skill set — and thus, I applied to the program.

What has made your time at UBC memorable?

What was most memorable for me during my studies at UBC was working on my capstone project, which was to perform a Triple Bottom Line Analysis on an innovative drone reforestation technology created by Canadian start-up ‘Flash Forest’. This project was so memorable because it served as a culmination of bringing together all that I learned across the entire program — from evaluating carbon emissions, energy efficiency and storage, energy policy, and market strategy — it was an excellent opportunity to leverage all of my knowledge, skillsets, and network of resource to create a true academic achievement for myself. It was also incredibly fulfilling to me to learn that learning outcomes from my project proved valuable for the sponsoring company going forward with their business operations.

How are you applying the skills you learned through your studies at UBC?

Co-founding and managing operations for a start-up while simultaneously being a graduate student provided a unique learning opportunity for me during the program. This was because a large portion of my academic work related to business, entrepreneurship, and organizational leadership, all of which were directly applicable to my work within my start-up. It became fairly common that I would learn something in class, and then immediately get presented an opportunity to apply that learning that same day in “the real world” while working on my company. In a way, it felt as if my start-up was one large ongoing school assignment. Now that I have finished my studies, I continue to use the technical and entrepreneurial skillsets taught to me nearly every day as my business pursuits and ventures continue to expand.

What are your future plans to make a difference in our world?

My current ambition is to help green businesses grow. Whether they be additional start-ups that I found in the future or other small businesses that require support, I plan to use the skillset and knowledge gained from my time at UBC to help make them flourish. I am hopeful that my contributions to the industry in the form of innovative and novel business can help restore our planet, and those living on it, to harmony.

Find me on: LinkedIn Instagram

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