Seed2Stem Research Program Gives Tomme Lab Experience

"An engineering degree is versatile, which will hopefully allow me to pursue whatever I see fit in the near future."

Tomme Ashton

  • Degree: Bachelor of Applied Science
  • Campus: Vancouver

Why did you want to study engineering?

Growing up, I was always interested in math and physics, so engineering felt like a natural choice. I also did some labour market research, which shows that there are always lots of engineering jobs across many different industries. 

An engineering degree is versatile, which will hopefully allow me to pursue whatever I see fit in the near future. 

Why engineering is a versatile and future-proof degree

How did you decide on UBC?

I’m from Delta, and UBC was where I wanted to go. It’s a beautiful campus and it’s a great school. 

UBC Vancouver Campus

You’ve just finished first year! What are your reflections looking back on the last eight months?

I really like the community here at UBC and I’ve already found a good group of friends. It’s a great environment for all sorts of different people, and everyone is very friendly. 

The first year’s a lot of work. It’s like an academic boot camp where you’re doing homework constantly for 13 different courses. The courses are also a lot harder than what you experience in high school, so that was something of an adjustment. Although you get a lot of content thrown at you in a short period of time, they’re actually really engaging. 

I enjoyed the hands-on projects the most, because you must be creative and apply yourself. For example, in an engineering design course we had to design and build a robotic claw to lift various objects with only a servo motor. 

First year advantage of engineering

What skills have you developed so far?

Time management, for sure, and a more consistent work ethic. I’m able to stay on track and do what I need to do, even if there are other things I’d rather be doing. Obviously, my engineering mindset has developed, and I’m much more confident in my overall problem-solving ability. 

Skills needed to succeed as an engineer

You worked at ICORD last summer and again this summer. Tell us about your experience? 

ICORD runs a summer research program for Indigenous students called seed2STEM. Last summer I was a student and worked with Leah Keshet to model cell movement using computer software. This summer I am helping a co-op student in Dr. Peter Cripton’s lab to develop a biofidelic omnidirectional cervical spine surrogate for various modes of biomechanical testing. 

We are currently developing this model by researching and prototyping different designs to replicate the intricate components of the cervical spine. 

This work has increased my interest in pursuing applications in biomedical engineering and it’s been great to get hands-on work experience prior to starting future co-op terms. 

ICORD  seed2STEM  Dr. Peter Cripton

Why Co-op? Launch Your Career While Still A Student

Any other reflections you want to share on the transition to university? 

If you are living on campus, it is your responsibility to take care of yourself, which is a big transition for most people. 

You need to learn how to be independent and once you do that first year becomes a lot easier. I found that implementing a routine is helpful for overcoming challenges and adversity. First year is a time for figuring out how to balance all the other elements in your life, like going to the gym or hanging out with friends. This year, I did not do any design teams because I thought I would not have enough time. I was wrong, and I am looking forward to getting more involved with clubs, design teams and the overall engineering culture next year. 

Design team captains and/or Silicon Valley CEOs – feel free to hit me up on LinkedIn! 


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UBC Applied Science students are people who are passionate about their chosen field — architecture, landscape architecture, community and regional planning, engineering and nursing — and those that inspire others by making meaningful contributions to the betterment of society.

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