It's the people, not the place

"What defines your university degree is not the classes you take, but what you do outside of those classes — enjoy it."

Eve Ulmer

Eve Ulmer

  • Degree: Bachelor of Applied Science
  • Grad year: 2021
  • Program: Integrated Engineering
  • Campus: Vancouver

The day I moved into residency was the first day I had ever stepped foot onto UBC campus grounds — I knew no one, and was a bit overwhelmed at the size of campus. After growing up on a farm in Saskatchewan, attending one school from K-12, and graduating alongside 6 other students, you can see how it was a bit of an adjustment. Within the first two weeks of classes I found myself with a group of friends and study buddies, and running for a position on the First Year Council of the EUS. 

After that, things seemed to move pretty fast. I stayed involved in student government holding roles within the EUS (FYC Charity Rep 15-16, Charity Director 16-17, VP Student Life 17-18, Career Fair Director 19-20) and within IGEN (VP External 19-20, President 20-21). I squeezed in time between that and my classes to join AOE, UBC Concrete Toboggan, take a gap year for co-op, and play dodgeball almost every Tuesday evening. It was by no means a smooth journey and I probably should have spent more time studying, but I got to experience so many different aspects of student life so it was worth it.

Six years later, I’m finally graduating and working full-time for Copperleaf Technologies; I’ve found a community of like-minded friends, and continue to be astounded at the beauty of UBC.

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

I had never heard of Integrated Engineering before starting at UBC, but when the program was introduced in APSC 100, I was curious to know more. Here was something that could allow me to tailor my degree to the exact specializations I was interested in, while still learning the core concepts from the other programs. It sounded like a cheat code that opened the door to any number of future career paths. The deciding factor for my choice came down to the people. IGEN welcomed me in as a first year student, inviting me to events, answering questions, getting me excited about my future in engineering.  

While my specialization within IGEN shifted after I finished my co-op terms and came to understand the type of work I wanted to pursue post graduation, and I continued to answer the question “What is Integrated Engineering,” I have never doubted my decision in joining the program. And I would still say that IGEN has the best people!

What has made your time at UBC memorable? 

UBC Concrete Toboggan takes the cake on this one — hard to beat getting into a toboggan with four other people, and planning to ride down a hill around 40km an hour, only to immediately roll it instead. 

Crash notwithstanding, Concrete Toboggan is a unique university experience that I will cherish. From the concept of designing a toboggan with concrete skis, to travelling to other parts of Canada, dressing in costume and singing “You Make My Dreams (Come True)” for the better of three days alongside 200+ enthusiastic engineering students, it is the definition of memorable.

Honourable mentions outside of t-bog would be Christmas Carolling through live lectures on the LDOC, throwing whip cream pies in peoples faces for Charity, and becoming friends with the most remarkable group of people.

Eve Ulmer Concrete Tobogan memory

Tell us about your experience in your program. What have you learned that is most valuable? 

One of the major draws to the IGEN program is the yearly design projects, which are selected by the students and completed in their second, third and fourth year of study. Developing a product from concept, through design, to implementation strengthened my understanding of the application of the design process and project management. 

Learning to consider the entire picture and life cycle of a problem, to identify relevant stakeholders for consultation, and to effectively communicate ideas are invaluable skills that I continue to use daily. These non-technical skills are what enables us as engineers to provide solutions to problems. I would especially like to highlight the value of communication; in order to serve the public one must understand the needs and related concerns, and convey relevant information. And since nothing in engineering is done by one person alone, effective communication is the backbone of any project.

What advice would you give a student entering your degree program? 

That work will always be there and that it’s okay to take your time if you need to. 

I started my degree with a plan to be in and out in 4 years, and after taking on too many commitments and failing a course in my second year, I had to take a step back and re-evaluate. There were things outside of class I knew I wanted to contribute to, things that would make me a better engineer in the long run, and to do that I had to take a reduced course load. Whatever your reasoning, taking less courses and more time is always an option. There are endless routes you can take with your engineering degree, and they’re really all the right one. 

Also, NETWORK. You will meet so many interesting people who will go on to do amazing things, and you don’t want to miss the opportunity to leverage those connections. You just never know when you are going to meet someone who will open a door for you.

How do you feel your degree has benefitted you compared to a different field of study? 

Completing an engineering degree has fundamentally changed how I look at the world around me. I couldn’t tell you when exactly it started, but at some point I started noticing how things were built and what materials were used, considering the implications of how the design has been affected over time, even thinking about who something had been designed for and what aspects of consultation may have been missed. It is less of a technical dissection, and more an ongoing analysis of the built world. 

I am sure this shift in perspective happens in one way or another to all engineers, and I think it speaks highly to the level of critical thinking and problem solving skills that we are taught. The application of these concepts is something that can be applied to any career path, and for me, that is the beauty of an engineering degree.

Where do you find your inspiration? 

I look up to many past Rising Star nominees and leaders within student government, and have been very lucky to have received guidance from many of said students. Seeing what they have been able to accomplish has always inspired me to try and live up to that standard, maybe even inspire the next class of UBC Engineers to do the same.

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Eve Ulmer EUS team

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

The current plan is to continue my work with the Canadian Federation of Engineering Students (CFES) as their Corporate Relations Commissioner; developing and maintaining national partnerships and creating sponsorship resources to aid the CFES as they support students across Canada. 

As that draws to a close, and I finally say goodbye to the world of student government, I’d like to work with regulatory bodies across Canada, or provincially, to examine the supports that exist for newly graduated engineers. Moving from graduation to the EIT/P. Eng process, and navigation of a full-time career can be a intimidating and confusing time, and I think right now young engineers are relatively alone in this process. I don’t fully know what building out a framework for this will look like, but I do know that young engineers should have a voice at the table, and support available when they need it.

Is there anything else about your degree experience you'd like to elaborate on? 

The best part about UBC is that if you at any point feel like you haven’t quite found your place, or have the need for additional support in some way, then you can create an environment that meets those needs. If you are wishing there was a club for a certain hobby, I would bet money there are other people who are also interested in meeting like minded individuals. 

For me, I found that in the Engineering community. Since day one I had support pushing me to take on new roles and telling me to take a moment and breathe when I needed to slow down. I was able to find so many different groups of people that helped me grow and learn, shaping me as a person and an engineer. A special thank you to all of you who helped make UBC and Vancouver my home away from home.

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