Innovating Solutions: Learning From Research, Trial And Error

"As an engineer, there is always an end use for your work – you’re not just coming up with your own problems to research and solve."

Alberto Mussali

Alberto Mussali

Job title as of April 2023: Applications Engineer at Convergent Manufacturing Technologies

Why did you want to study engineering?

My initial intention coming out of high school was to study applied physics. However, the only university I applied to in Canada was UBC, and I knew it had a great engineering program. So for my UBC application I put engineering as my top choice. I then had to choose between studying applied physics in the US or engineering here. Ultimately, I decided on engineering at UBC. I thought engineering could give me a broader range of options for the future.

UBC Engineering Program

How did you decide to specialize in manufacturing engineering?

This was a brand new program that did not exist when I first joined UBC. Manufacturing engineering had everything I wanted with its combination of technology, software, material science and mechanical engineering. It seemed broad enough that you are not doing the same thing every day, but not too broad so that you don’t have a focus.

Manufacturing Engineering

What was your experience of the program?

The fact it was a new and small program meant we were very close with our fellow students and the professors. I loved all the open-ended projects, which gave us room for creativity. It’s very satisfying to come up with a unique solution – usually after lots of trial and error!

Manufacturing Engineering Projects 

Alberto Mussali's Experience in Engineering

What did you do for your capstone project?

I worked with a company in Richmond that wanted to automate part of the process it uses to manufacture batteries for boats. We had to do a lot of research to figure out a design that met all the must-have requirements and incorporated some of the nice-to-have requirements too. The company hired a co-op student the following year to implement the design, and I was able to help out a bit to see it through.

What sorts of skills did UBC Engineering help you develop?

Engineering is all about developing your problem-solving skills.

The questions you are trying to solve are so open ended and there is no one “right answer.” That makes for a lot of research and trial and error. You learn to be comfortable being thrown into the deep end and having the confidence that you will be able to figure things out – to be able to identify and evaluate a whole range of potential solutions.

You moved to Vancouver from Mexico. What was your experience like as an international student?

I thought it was going to be an easy transition and it was. When I was researching colleges I looked at how many international students they had and UBC ranked very high compared to other places. It was incredibly easy to find people who had moved here from other countries and were sharing some of my experiences and it was also easy to make friends born in Canada.

Alberto Mussali with his friends

Tell us about your job.

I am working as an applications engineer at Convergent Manufacturing Technologies, a company that develops manufacturing software used by companies in the aerospace and other industries who are working with advanced materials. My job as an analyst is to dig into all sorts of laboratory tests on various materials and find a way to model them mathematically so they can be used to support simulation and design.

Convergent Manufacturing Technologies

Did your degree prepare you for your role?

Definitely. I developed a lot of skills that I use all the time. So I understand materials and their physical behaviour, but I also have two years of coding experience from different courses. This is a small team and I am expected to do many different kinds of activities to support the company as a whole. The skills I developed in manufacturing engineering help me jump between teams and projects.

Any advice for students who are thinking about UBC Engineering?

Take UBC’s motto, Tuum Est, literally. It is up to you.

Yes, engineering is hard and it is quite a time commitment. But it is up to you. You can make your degree whatever you want it to be. And if you give it enough time and effort, everything will work out.

UBC manufacturing engineering students

Manufacturing Engineering

Students in the Manufacturing program will gain broad exposure to foundational engineering disciplines, and training across a range of major manufacturing processes and platforms, and instruction in production management and modern manufacturing...

Manufacturing Engineering

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