Amira Badreldin, BASc '18, Electrical and Computer Engineering
“It can be very daunting to look at a new project and be worried that your first few ideas might fail, but if you can turn that into excitement, then you’re ready to tackle anything.”
Amira is a graduating electrical engineering student who has been actively involved in the UBC Community through Engineers Without Borders, the Biomedical Engineering Student Design team and has been a member of UBC Women in Engineering both as a committee chair and as a committee member. Her desire to create a more diverse and welcoming workplace for all engineers is evident not only in her participation in clubs that do so, but in her interactions with other students. Her technical know-how is beyond what is required for an Electrical Engineering degree, as she has taught herself multiple coding languages to such a high level that she able to apply them to industry projects at her 20 months of co-op experience with Amazon, SMART Technologies and more. She has been the recipient of various awards for her technical and leadership skills as well as her work in the UBC community such as the M. M. Z. Kharadly Student Project Prize in Electrical Engineering, the Mount Pleasant Legion/Col. C.C.I. Merritt, VC Memorial Scholarship, and the Jim and Helen Hill Memorial Service Award in Electrical Engineering.
Why did you choose engineering?
I chose engineering because I love seeing the way technology can impact and improve people’s lives. Technology shapes the way we interact with the world around us, so when you innovate, you can see your designs improving individuals’ lives on a daily basis, which gives an incredible sense of purpose.
What has made your time at UBC the most memorable?
The people at UBC have made my time the most memorable. There are so many unbelievable individuals that are passionate about different areas, and I feel that I was able to learn from all of them in different ways. I have friends that want to work on biotechnology, 3D printing, international development, literacy programs, events for students, athletics and many more areas, and I have the privilege of learning from all of them. There is such a diverse group of people at UBC and it’s amazing to learn what drives other engineers.
At UBC, you have an incredible number of opportunities. I was able to take on leadership positions, and pursue my own passions, as well as travel for conferences and competitions.
I joined Women in Engineering as the Chair of the Partnerships Committee to pursue my passion to promote equity in the workplace and to bring awareness to the benefits of diversity. I believe that specifically in the technical sector, diversity is critical to develop effective, relevant and appropriate solutions for our society.
Being a leader in Engineers without Borders was an incredible learning experience as I found a balance between my team's expectations and my own. I learned how to encourage and direct people while maintaining a productive environment, as well as adapting to changes quickly and efficiently.
Working with the Biomedical Engineering Student Design team was an incredible opportunity to tackle very prevalent, important, and feasible problems with innovative solutions to benefit patients and/or medical professionals with a group of undergraduate students spanning multiple faculties. I felt that I learned so much about international health, medical devices, research and development, and how to take a solution from the design stage through the many iterative implementations to a complete device.
What have you learned in engineering that is most valuable?
Throughout an engineering degree you are given many problems where you might not even know what first step to take to solve it. Learning how to adapt, use new techniques and be encouraged to think outside of the box is extremely valuable, and something I find you can only learn when put in a new and uncomfortable situation. Something else I gained from my experience in engineering is confidence in failing. It can be very daunting to look at a new project and be worried that your first few ideas might fail, but if you can turn that into excitement, then you’re ready to tackle anything.
How are you applying the skills you learned through your studies at UBC?
Learning how to learn was an invaluable skill that allowed me to not only continually understand new fields and technologies, but give me the ability to seek out any opportunity. I learned that if you are willing to put in the time and effort you can gain any new skill set. By self-teaching many software skills, I was able to receive an internship at Amazon last summer in Seattle, and while I felt out of my league, as many of my colleagues came from computer science programs in some of the top universities in the world, I was able to keep an open mind and keep learning at an even faster pace.
Additionally, exercising leadership in a variety of situations has taught me important skills that I am confident I will use. More than the responsibility of motivating a group to achieve a common goal; it is being able to provide continuity, momentum, and flexibility in accommodating changes while pursuing your goal. Three things I felt I have gained from my experiences are enhanced problem-solving skills, communication skills, and an increased sense of confidence. Any obstacle has a solution, and the harder it is to solve, the more holistically you will need to think.
What has been your most memorable/valuable non-academic experience studying engineering at UBC?
I feel fortunate to have had so many memorable experiences at UBC, whether that was working on student teams such as Women in Engineering, Engineers without Borders, or the Biomedical Student Design team, or travelling to conferences across Canada and the United States, competing in design competitions and being able to meet amazing people all along the way. I was also fortunate to be able to travel for most of my co-op terms to new cities like Seattle and Montreal.
What advice would you give a student considering engineering?
Engineering is very difficult, but extremely rewarding. After a few years you will be shocked with what you can do – I would have never expected to have built two robots by the time I finished third year! The amazing part is that I didn’t have any of the work abstracted away, I really know how they work, and now I could build endless robots (within reason of course). This degree gives you incredible skills, but also gives you a sense of curiosity, passion and confidence. There are always fascinating projects to work on and learn about, some of these might be impacting millions of people or more, and you can be part of it!