Allison Matfin, B.A.Sc. 2016, Environmental Engineering Rising Star

MatfinWhy did you choose to pursue engineering as a career?

When I chose to go into engineering, I wasn’t sure if it would be the right fit for me. I didn’t know any engineers, but I really loved math and science and was looking for a path that would allow me to make a positive difference in the world. The UNBC/UBC Environmental Engineering program seemed like a great fit for these passions, as it applied the technical aspects I enjoyed to the environmental challenges our world is facing. Looking back almost six years later, it was definitely the right decision.

What are some of the most memorable moments from your time in the?

I think the most memorable moments from my degree spring from two main sources: time spent with my fellow students and extracurricular projects.

I have been so very fortunate to have met and interacted with such a broad range of individuals at UBC and UNBC and at various conferences. These students are passionate, funny, kind and looking for the best way to make a difference in their chosen fields.

Some of the best learning opportunities that have really stuck with me have been extracurricular projects and design competitions I’ve participated in, where I have had the chance to delve into a real engineering problems and find solutions to complex challenges. These projects were invaluable team experiences filled with research, late nights, learning, laughter, minor delirium and results and work we could be proud of. On top of all of that, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to travel to different cities and countries as parts of these extra courses and projects.

What are the most valuable things you have learned?

Work hard. Laugh often. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Ask questions. Ask more questions. Follow your passion. Find time to get outside. Learn from those with different opinions and backgrounds. Take the time to help others. Focus on fluid dynamics. Don’t get so bogged down in the details that you forget the big picture. And don’t forget to take a breath.

Engineering isn’t about learning all the answers; it’s about learning how to approach the problems.

What advice would you give a student considering engineering?

Don’t do engineering for anyone else. It is not an easy field and requires a lot of work and time. Although it’s challenging, if it’s what you are passionate about it can also be very rewarding and worthwhile. Seek out opportunities outside of the classroom to learn, engage with other students, broaden your horizons, and meet professionals in your field of interest. I took several field courses and attended conferences that got me out of the classroom and into more hands on scenarios (and other countries), which were excellent learning opportunities and a lot of fun.

How will you go on to make a difference in our world?

At this point it’s hard to say exactly what the future will hold and where my path will take me. I currently work in wastewater treatment and water resource engineering at a consulting company and I would like to continue working in the water field. My aim is to have a positive impact on the way we manage our water resources. This could include: working on planning and protection for flood risks, protecting water quality to preserve ecological integrity, climate change adaptation, recovering resources from wastewater, and increasing water efficiency. We are very fortunate in BC and Canada to generally have a large supply of freshwater resources, but with a growing population, increased industry and climate change, we need to continuously improve the way we allocate, treat and manage our water and waste.