From Turkey To Okanagan: Asli's Journey In Civil Engineering

"I was always good at math, and since so many of my family members are engineers, I figured engineering was the way to go for me."

Asli Tuncer

Asli Tuncer

Why did you want to study engineering?

As a Turkish student, when I was in high school, we had to choose our career paths early. I was always good at math, and since so many of my family members are engineers—my dad, grandparents, uncles and aunts—I figured engineering was the way to go for me.

Why Engineering will set you up for success

How did you decide on UBC?

I was eager to study abroad for university, so I applied to schools all over the world. After comparing all my options, I decided to accept the offer of UBC’s Vantage Program. Also, Canada was familiar to me because my cousins were born here and my uncle and aunt had studied here.  

UBC’s Vantage Program

How did you choose Civil Engineering? 

At the end of first year, I ranked the list of the programs that I wanted to study. I was interested in many different disciplines, including Integrated Engineering and Electrical Engineering. My grandfather runs an electrical engineering company and suggested that someone in the family should be a civil engineer! So, I ended up putting civil engineering at the top of my list. 

I was originally disappointed that I didn’t get into my program choice at UBC Vancouver. However, being at UBC Okanagan has been great. I still have friends from my first year from Vancouver, but I’ve made my best friends here and I’m happy that this is where I’ve ended up.

UBC Okanagan School of Engineering Integrated Engineering 

Electrical Engineering 

What are some of the highlights of your university education so far?

A challenging course for me was a second-year coding course where we had to write the code to control an automated car. I really don’t like coding, but the experience ended up being positive. My group was fantastic, and we helped each other succeed on this project. 

One course I really enjoyed was transportation engineering. We spent a lot of time out of the classroom to see how transportation and city planning play out in real life. It was cool, and I enjoyed it a lot. A surveying course has also helped me out in my current co-op job.

A person working on a project

Tell us about your co-op positions.

My first co-op was at a construction company in Turkey. It was a learning experience to be in an office and see the different kinds of work that goes on. 

Last September, I began working for PCL at their Edmonton headquarters as part of their quality team. After a few months, my supervisor decided to relocate me to Terrace to work on Mills Memorial Hospital project because he thought this was an outstanding opportunity for me to gain experience related to my field. As a student on the quality team, I deal with deficiencies inside the hospital, go on consultant walks, and survey the civil works, among other responsibilities. I currently work 10 days in Terrace and then have four days off where I return to Edmonton. 

Being on construction sites as a student is great because there are so many learning opportunities you could never get in an office. The onsite team is so amazing, and they are always there to support me in my learning.

Co-op is incredible for applying what you’ve learned in school. It also reinforces the importance of skills in teamwork and communication, in addition to the technical knowledge you acquire in classes.

PCL Mills Memorial Hospital Applied Science Co-op 

A student holding up a project


Tuncer with her onsite team

Do you have any thoughts on the type of impact you’d like to make in your career?

After graduation I would love to continue working here in Canada to build up my experience. I’m also considering doing a master’s at some point, perhaps in finance, or doing an MBA.  

Do you have any advice for students who are considering engineering?

Talk with people in the field you are interested in pursuing to learn more about what they do. Always go to classes! You can learn everything in class if you listen carefully. If you don’t, you must go back home and study on your own. 

Don’t hesitate to ask questions—this applies both in university and in co-op. 

Finally, always try to build up your experience by doing co-op or pursuing internships. 

Two people working on a project
Two students standing in an outdoor stairwell observing the project site.

Civil Engineering

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