Working On Projects That Have Value And Make A Positive Impact

"There’s also a lot of value in attending the UBC Engineering events for prospective students."

Elio Di Nino outside with mountains and water in the background

Elio Di Nino

Why did you want to study engineering?

I was always a kid who liked to tinker with things and figure out how they worked – I was the person taking things apart and playing with Lego non-stop. Then in high school, I really enjoyed math, science, and programming, so engineering seemed like the best choice for me.

Why did you decide on UBC Engineering?

I visited quite a few universities across Canada, but UBC stood out for a few reasons, including its beautiful green campus! I also really liked that the first year is a general foundation year. I wasn’t quite sure what engineering specialization I wanted to choose, and having a year to explore my options was great. Another big driver was all the student teams and opportunities to do interesting things. There are a ton of design teams here, which is super cool.

General Foundation Year Design Teams

How did you choose Computer Engineering? 

First year was very helpful: I discovered I definitely don’t want to be doing anything long-term related to chemistry! I was debating between Computer Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, and Computer Engineering won out in the end because I realized how much I enjoy learning about technology. 

Computer Engineering Mechanical Engineering

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

The first-year engineering courses were great for bonding with people across all the different engineering specializations as you worked on projects together, like designing a chair from cardboard or creating a mechanical claw that can pick up a range of objects. Some of my second-year Computer Engineering projects were great as well, where we were put in groups of four to work on some complicated programming assignments. They were challenging, but ultimately very rewarding. 

Cardboard chair project poster and prototype

Tell us about some of the extracurriculars you’ve been involved with.

In first year I joined the UBC Uncrewed Aircraft Systems team as a software developer, where I got to work on a bunch of cool projects such as revamping the ground control software, implementing a wireless winch control system and significantly reducing image streaming latency. In second year, I became the software co-lead, where I designed four new software projects to overhaul our systems and oversaw a team of 18 software developers. 

Last year our team participated in two competitions – one in Quebec and one in Maryland. These were incredibly fun experiences and it’s been great to see our progress as a team. 

I have now stepped into my new role as captain of the team and am really looking forward to a great year. There are about 60 of us from different faculties and engineering areas. It’s extremely rewarding to work with such different people and to be working with people outside of your engineering specialization. Design teams are a fantastic opportunity to learn new skills and they give you the freedom to explore areas you are curious about.

UBC Uncrewed Aircraft Systems

Tell us about your first co-op experience.

I’m working at D-Wave Quantum Systems in Burnaby as a DevOps Engineer. It’s been great. Everyone is super nice and very keen to share their knowledge. I’ve had quite a few opportunities to work on interesting things, learn new skills and help out in a range of areas. It’s also been super cool to learn about the emerging field of quantum computing!

D-Wave Quantum Systems

D-Wave Team

Any idea of what kind of impact you’d like to make with your engineering degree?

It’s hard to say. I’m interested in so many different areas, including both software and hardware. I like working on projects that have value and make a positive impact on others.

Any advice for other students considering UBC?

Don’t be afraid to reach out to people at UBC to ask questions. There’s also a lot of value in attending the UBC Engineering events for prospective students, like open houses. Those give you lots of opportunities to talk with people.

Open House

Computer engineering co-op student at work

Computer Engineering

Computer engineers can change the world. Whether it is the systems that control our phones, cars, planes or robots — every automated device has a software or hardware engineer helping to create it. 

Computer Engineering

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