“I feel that a degree in engineering allows me to contribute and be a part of making an impact on the world in a real way. I like to know that what I am doing is tangible and can be defined by what you see and feel.”
– Lauren Pickering, Class of 2013
Passionate about protecting the environment, this engineering grad hopes to help others understand the importance of using resources more efficiently. With her co-op and research experience, Lauren Pickering is more than capable of making a sizeable impact on sustainable practices.
What has made your time at UBC the most memorable?
The people I have met through school, work and my program were an inspiration and a rock through all times. University would not have been the same without those around me that were experiencing it with me. I have made lifelong friends and peers that I hope to see in my life through friendship as well as within my career.
Tell me about your experience with environmental engineering? What have you learned that is most valuable?
The program through UNBC and UBC is unique in many ways. First of all, each student gets to see what it is like to live in a variety of settings from a small northern town to a large metropolis. Similarly, students experience different school settings, each with their positive and negative aspects. Most of all, the program allows each student to see differing perspectives which is useful in the world of engineering as you will be encountering a variety of people from all over the country and world. It helps to see and feel firsthand how work and life can be different from place to place.
How are you applying the skills you learned through your studies at UBC?
The skills I have learned through my studies have been used time and time again through my co-op work studies. While I worked at an environmental lab, I was able to use much of my laboratory teachings and further my knowledge of working in a lab. Then, while I worked as a research assistant at UBC I was able to use the communication skills I had been taught and further my knowledge once again.
What has been your most memorable/valuable extra-curricular experience while studying engineering at UBC?
In my last year at UBC I volunteered some of my time to assist a group in telling residents about a pilot program on organic food waste collection in a their community in Vancouver. We went from door to door explaining the program, answering any questions people had and giving them a few tools to assist in making the pilot successful. This opportunity really opened my eyes in a number of ways and also gave me more inspiration in my field of work.
First of all, it was interesting to discuss this type of environmental problem with all different types of people from Vancouver, learning what they knew and assisting them in discovering more. Also, I was excited about the program itself, seeing how such a large city such as Vancouver was taking steps to implement such an extensive program. In the end I know I helped assist in reducing the waste being incinerated or sent to a landfill and hope that it would grow throughout the city to make a sizeable impact.
How did your involvement in student affairs shape your experience?
I volunteered and participated in a number of conferences throughout my time at UBC and UNBC. These experiences helped me see the world of engineering and how communication and networking between peers is necessary for personal growth and for assisting others’ growth to becoming stronger engineers and individuals before entering the “real” world. It helped to shape where I wanted to go with my studies and will hopefully help in my future career.
Why did you choose environmental engineering, and the joint UNBC/UBC program?
Since I was young, I have been concerned with the way society viewed and used the environment; I have always been interested in how I could make a change or a difference in this respect. I started my engineering career at the University of Victoria where I studied biology for a year then transferred into engineering as I felt it suited my talents and interests and allowed me to take a more proactive path. When deciding which stream of engineering to study I wanted to consider my passions and talents together. I found this program through UNBC and UBC after deciding what was available at UVic may not be suitable and it sounded like the perfect combination. I have not regretted this choice!
What advice would you give to a student considering the program?
I would advise any students interested in this program, or any engineering program, to not be afraid to ask for help or co-operate with others in your program on a regular basis. The most important lesson to be learned and to take away from pursuing a degree in engineering is that collaboration and teamwork help to produce a better outcome. More-over, I would advise students to try to collaborate with students through all other engineering streams as in the future there will be many situations where you have to work with individuals with completely different backgrounds and ideas. It can be a bit intimidating at first but you will learn so much more and your knowledge of perspectives will grow that much more.
What are your plans for the future–immediate? Long-term?
After finishing my final semester at UNBC in the fall I left for Southeast Asia to travel until the Iron-Ring ceremony in March. Following this ceremony I have returned to my hometown, Calgary, but will be continuing some travelling through Canada and possibly the UK before starting work. Much further down the road, after several years of hands on experience I would like to pursue a master’s degree in Europe in geothermal heating and electricity. I will also be continuing some work with my previous co-op job interpreting the data we collected and collaborating on various scientific papers.
How do you feel a degree in engineering has benefited you compared to a different field of study?
I feel that a degree in engineering allows me to contribute and be a part of making an impact on the world in a real way. I like to know that what I am doing is tangible and can be defined by what you see and feel.
How will you, Lauren Pickering, go on to make a difference in our world?
I hope that what I do in the future will bring people and the environment closer to being balanced. I hope that what I do will allow people to make more efficient and better use of the resources that are available around them. Furthermore, I hope that I am able to help others better understand the importance of protecting the environment for the betterment of human society around the globe.