Category Archives: Student Life

Surviving winter

Vancouver winters. They may not be full of snow and ice storms like the rest of Canada, but they do involve a severe lack of sun and no shortage of rain. Coming from Ontario, I honestly thought winters on the west coast would be a joke. And although temperatures don’t dip far below 0℃, dealing with the constant rain and zero sunshine can really get to you. Especially when the winter is also packed with assignments, midterms, exams… It can be difficult to adjust to after growing up outside of Vancouver, so I thought I’d share some things I find helpful when dealing with rainy season.

For reference, this is the kind of winter I’m used to

Proper Rain Gear
This cannot be stressed enough. A good pair of waterproof boots or shoes and a rain jacket go a long way. An umbrella might be nice, however, it can get pretty windy on campus. I have struggled with too many umbrellas and after their ultimate destruction, I decided to stick with the rain coat. If you can find a waterproof / water resistant backpack, that can be quite helpful as well. Otherwise, some people buy waterproof backpack covers to keep their stuff dry.

Warm Drinks
In the hot summers, it can be uncomfortable to try to enjoy warm beverages. Personally, I’m a hot drink person. Coffee, tee, hot chocolate, apple cider… I just love to curl up in some blankets and enjoy something toasty. This is something the winter is awesome for! Appreciate that you have the time to aesthetically sit with your tee and stare out the rain-streaked window.

Explore Indoor Attractions
In the summer, there’s plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy. So, use the time in the winter to enjoy some of the indoor ones! From museums both on and off campus, galleries and more, I think some of Vancouver’s attractions are often overlooked.

Still Dress Warm…
Don’t be fooled. Even though temperatures may read above 0℃, I find it feels colder. I’m used to feeling some -30℃ temperatures (poor high school Emily waiting for the bus in her school uniform kilt), so I tend to dress pretty relaxed (long sleeve, light coat). But man, it really feels so much colder. I learned pretty quickly to ditch my “Vancouver isn’t cold” pride and start dressing warmer than I thought was necessary.

Appreciate the Rain
Isn’t it kinda cool that water just like… falls from the sky? Spend time enjoying the rain. It’s still important to get outside and get some fresh air, so gear up, step outside, and have fun splashing through the puddles.

Give yourself breaks!
When the weather isn’t nice, it’s easy to just spend all day inside studying. Going for a walk to give yourself a break doesn’t sound like a nice option anymore, so some people find themselves stuck studying all day. Don’t get stuck. Even if you don’t want to go for a walk in the rain (although I think rain walks are underrated), you can still take breaks by watching an episode of a show, eating a snack while not staring at your laptop, or something else indoors.

So, there you have it. An Ontarian’s take and tips on Vancouver winters. Again, I advise you to not underestimate the rainy season, and the impact it can have on your mental health. But for now, enjoy the summer while it’s here!

Feeling lost in your degree?

In the first few years of my degree, I felt a little lost. It seemed that all of my peers had their whole engineering careers planned out – what company they wanted to work for, what research area they were interested in for grad school… and I’m just here because I like problem solving and things that move.

That’s totally okay! Some people come into engineering with a specific path, and others come to explore what engineering has to offer. You’re not alone if you don’t know exactly what you want to do after your degree. Know that people’s plans change too. In first year, I had friends who were very interested in a specific field, but after second year they were interested in something completely different.

I find there’s a lot of people who even question their decision to go into MECH or engineering in general. It can be easy to get this idea in your head of “this is what a Mechanical Engineer should do” and “this is what a Mechanical Engineer should be,” but that doesn’t exist. Mechanical engineering especially is very broad, and involves so many industries. You develop strong skills throughout your degree, including problem solving and determination. These are highly transferable skills, meaning its also possible to branch out after your degree.

If you’re looking to find a more specific direction in your degree, here’s what I can recommend:

  • Co-op: gaining work experience in industries you might be interested in is very valuable whether you end up liking the industry or not. If you’re really not sure where to go, it can be beneficial to do shorter co-op terms, and try out as many different career paths as possible.
  • Electives: take a good look at the elective courses offered at UBC, and take ones you think might be of interest to you. This will help you develop skills in an area of interest, and can also give you a better idea of specific fields you can pursue with that knowledge.
  • Talk to profs: ask any of your profs if they have a few minutes to talk about their field. They can give you insight into research prospects and often industry as well.
  • Informational interviews: I haven’t done this myself, but I’ve had friends who perform informational interviews with people in industry. If you’re on co-op, that is a good opportunity to ask to speak with other people in the company in different positions. I recommend looking for connections through family and friends as well, and potentially and industry partners you have through design teams and extracurriculars.

In general, I think taking the time to explore different fields in mechanical engineering can help you make the most of your time at UBC. If you don’t know what you want to do after school, don’t panic! There are many people who don’t know as well, and many people have come before you and figured it out 🙂

Summer on campus

So, you’re spending your summer on campus. What goes on here? What can I do to keep myself busy? Well, I might have a few ideas.

Work Learn

If you don’t know what a Work Learn position is, they’re part-time paid positions offered through UBC in both the winter and summer terms. For the summer, Work Learn positions are typically posted around March. Depending on the position, they can be pretty competitive, so it’s best to apply early! You can work a maximum of 20 hours/week in a Work Learn during the summer, which puts you to a total of 300 hours. There are many different positions available, from research, to office and library work, to working with MECH Student Services (yay!).

Undergraduate Research

If you’re interested in a specific field, or think you might be interested in research, then why not reach out to a prof and try to snag a research position? Undergraduate research positions can come in many different forms. There are full-time, paid positions that are sometimes posted through co-op, but full-time opportunities can also be accessed through grants like NSERC. In my case, I’m doing some part-time unpaid casual work for a prof, which will hopefully lead to a publication. If you’re interested, I recommend reaching out to a professor whose research focus appeals to you, and simply ask if they are interested in taking on a student over the summer. You can also take a look here, for more undergrad research opportunities.

Personal Projects

Who doesn’t love making things? During the winter terms, students are typically much too busy to take on extra projects. Over the summer though, you have lots of time to explore your passions and build your resume. There is a wonderful previous post that includes some ideas for personal projects. If you already have some past projects, I can also recommend creating a projects portfolio. Building and coding your own website showcasing past work you’ve done is a useful thing to have to send to employers, and can also be put on your resume!

Design Teams

Joining a design team for the summer only might be difficult (although it doesn’t hurt to ask), however, if you’re already on a design team, there are often opportunities to get more involved. Most design team competitions happen over the summer, which means they are usually even more busy than during the school year. I know people who have spent full days in the shop with their team, and you typically gain a lot of hands-on experience. Often, you also get a chance to go to the competition, which can involve fun road trips and hotel stays.


Have you spent the summer in Vancouver before? If not, this is your chance! Since the winter term is unfortunately dominated by cold and rain, the summer term is really the best chance to get outside and see what Vancouver has to offer. Go hiking on the north shore, climb and mountain bike in Squamish, or simply enjoy the UBC campus. With the roses coming out and flowers in bloom, the summer is a beautiful time to take relaxing walks and explore the campus and city itself.

Tulip fields and mountains in the background View of mountains

This list just contains a few things that come to mind when thinking about the summer, but there really are endless possibilities! Even if you’re on co-op or not staying in Vancouver over the summer, some of my suggestions are still applicable, and I strongly encourage you to make the most out of your free time. That being said, I think it is also important to recognize that the summer is your primary time to relax and destress from the previous term. For some people, doing projects and research are their way to relax and destress. Others may benefit more from simply taking a break, and that’s okay too! In a demanding program like engineering, we need to know how to take a step back and prepare for the next year, in order to avoid burnout. While some people (including me) want to constantly be productive and push themselves, knowing what works best for you and following that is important.

My MECH experience

Hello! Emily here. I’m a third year MECH student, specializing in Mechatronics. I’m originally from a small town in South-western Ontario, which is actually where I did my first year of University, during the Covid-driven online year. You might be wondering, what was it like doing your entire first year online? Well, I actually found it alright. I was worried about making friends and finding a community within engineering while being alone in my bedroom, but apparently everyone else had that worry as well, which lead to countless group chats, zoom calls, and friends I am still close with in person.

With the transition to in-person classes in second year, it sort of felt like starting completely new again. This was my first time living on campus, first time living alone… but again, everyone was in the same boat. The MECH 2 group became quite close, and we all managed the transition together.

Well, at least the transition to third year must’ve been easy then, right? Not exactly. After spending all day everyday with my friends in MECH 2, I wasn’t used to not having the same classes as everyone. I was the only one in my friend group taking the Mechatronics stream, which meant we only had a few overlapping classes. In addition, third year is when people’s schedules start changing due to co-op. Some people will take a 12 or 16 month co-op right after second year, so they will be a year behind, until they catch up in forth year. However, these changes also gave me the opportunity to connect with people I didn’t get to know as well in MECH 2, and people with similar interests as myself.

Laptop, graham crackers, chocolate, and other miscellaneous materials.

Our capstone experiment in third year (part of Mech 305/6). Yes, we’re making s’mores.

I have done 2 four-month co-op terms so far. The first one I did back in Ontario, for a small company that designed and manufactured storage racks for car parts on the assembly line. Before working there, I honestly didn’t know that car part storage racks was an industry. My second co-op term was with Engineering Services at the Vancouver Airport, which was a really cool experience. Although my role was primarily reviewing HVAC and plumbing drawings, everyone there wanted you to make the most of your time there, which resulted in airside visits, tours of the secure side of the airport including the baggage system, and most excitingly, a hangar visit to get up close to some impressive planes.

Up-close airplane in a hangar, a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

During my third summer in University, I decided not to do a co-op term, but rather to develop other skills and gain different kinds of experience. In addition to my Work Learn with MECH Student Services, I am doing some statistics work with a professor I reached out to last term, and am also taking time to work on some personal projects. Since this is my first summer in Vancouver, I’m trying to take every opportunity to spend time climbing in Squamish, and will also need to take some time as I prepare to head out for my exchange next term in Germany.

Student Experiences

The Department of Mechanical Engineering houses several sub-specializations, and the difference between them isn’t always clear when choosing a program in the first year. Around the end of 2022, we had a student experiences panel with upper-year MECH students from each specialization to answer questions and try to demystify the program. Here are a few things they to say!

But before we get started here are our panelists:

  • Janet Sun – Mechatronics
  • Ahijit Banerjee – Thermofluids
  • Phoebe Cheung – Biomedical

Why did you choose MECH?

Janet: I have always been very interested in robotics and how things move the way that they do, I am now furthering my studies with a Master’s in Kinematically Redundant Parallel Robots which is very exciting. My choice stemmed from pure interest and curiosity, wanting to know the why and how behind mechanical movements in addition to what I could do to control those motions. Hence, I have specialized in Mechatronics which was also a factor as to why I chose MECH.

Ahijit: I come from an ECE and CS-dominated background and I was naturally inclined towards it from a young age. But during my first year here, I loved the hands-on projects we had – building the cardboard chair and seeing it support 17 sandbags or the metal claw trying its best to pieces of pasta from the floor. I hadn’t had much exposure to hands-on projects prior to coming to UBC, but I knew I wanted much more and that’s why I choose MECH.

Phoebe: Back in the first year, I was introduced to the concept of biomechanics, and the synergy between mechanical and biomedical engineering quickly became something I was interested in learning more about. Through the First Year Program Fair and the Mechanical Engineering First Year Networking Event, I had the opportunity to learn more about MECH and talk to current students about their experiences. As MECH offers a biomedical specialization, I discovered that a MECH degree would be the best choice for where my interests lie. I wanted a strong foundation in a core engineering discipline while still being able to gain experience in the biomedical industry. My goal was to build my toolbox of skills and knowledge through my degree to be able to design and develop medical devices in my future career.

Opportunities in the program

Janet: There are so many various way to be involved. Either through design team, student council, work learn positions in the mech offices, volunteering in labs or joining various clubs on campus. There are infinite ways of enriching your degree. If you would like to gain technical experience, joining a design team would be the best way to apply what you learn in the classroom to a tangible project and also allow you to polish those team working skills. During my time on both SUBC and Orbit, I have really enjoyed watching our design concept come to life with the combined efforts of the entire team. If you would like to develop professionally and or practice your interpersonal skills while taking on a leadership role, I highly encourage you to apply as a work learn student or join the mechanical engineering student council. I have been part of the council since my second year, having taken on roles such as 2nd Year Rep, Academic Rep, Secretary, and my two terms as President. These roles have taught me so much and I enjoyed being able to work closely with an amazing supportive team to ensure that all mechanical engineering students have access to a wide array of social, academic and professional development opportunities. I was also fortunate to be able to take on a few work learn positions during my undergraduate career and it was a really nice way of improving my soft skills such as technical communications. Being a work learn student gave me so many more opportunities to interact with staff, faculty and also incoming students. From my various roles in the department, I was able to interact with profs and I was able to volunteer in the CARIS lab working on a really cool controls project leading me to my master’s degree. There are so many opportunities that may creep up on you without you even knowing.

Ahijit: MECH has several opportunities for students to get involved outside of classes, the most common being design teams. Working on larger projects with technical and non-technical folks with different backgrounds is some of my favourite and most exciting moments in school. They helped me develop my technical and communication skills, and it is a fun way to meet new people.

The department is also very supportive of undergraduate research. MECH has the CREATE-U program exclusively for MECH students interested in research, I had initially asked my professor if they had any opportunities in their lab for an undergrad student, and I was able to complete a co-op term at their lab through this program. The department also has paid opportunities like teaching assistantships and work-learns. I found the time I spend TA’ing or helping out with work learn tasks to be a refreshing change from the technical projects and a way to give back to the community.

Phoebe: In addition to coursework, I had a multitude of opportunities to gain experience outside of the classroom. One of the highlights of my degree would be my time on UBC AeroDesign. It was my first time working on a large-scale team project, and it was very rewarding to watch our airplane take off for the very first time! In addition to the technical experience, I’ve also gained experience with project management during my time as Team Captain. Navigating the team through the pandemic and the transition back to in-person work was a unique challenge, and it has undoubtedly taught me important leadership and communication skills.

The MECH Community

Janet: One of my passions is to build community and as such I have taken up roles such as Mech Prez and Residence Advisor. I really enjoy hosting events and bringing people together through common interests and providing opportunities for skill development. The mechanical engineering community is very diverse, with students from vastly different backgrounds but we all come together under CEME or Rusty working on our projects, labs or course work knowing that our classmates will always lend a hand to help when they can.

Ahijit: The MECH community is a tightly knit one. Starting from the days of MECH 2, we see each other all the time from classes during the week and at design teams over the weekends. But it’s the days when things don’t go according to plan or it’s the day before the competition and we’re still at Home Depot picking up parts, is when I made my closest friends whom I knew I could count on. Alongside seeing everyone for school nearly every day, club MECH hosts events frequently that are an amazing opportunity to detox and relax.

Phoebe: Although 2nd year (“MECH2”) is as challenging as every upper-year MECH student claims, reflecting back on it now, it has certainly helped me build a strong academic foundation and become a better future engineer. The variety of courses and labs allowed me to get a taste of what mechanical engineering has to offer for the rest of my undergraduate degree. Because of its rigour, MECH2 has also allowed me to learn how to better manage my time and prioritize my tasks. The overall MECH community is also very welcoming, which allowed me to build a strong support system of peers and professors.

Additional Comments

Janet: Being involved in not only the mechanical engineering community but also the greater engineering community to show our mech pride has been a highlight of my undergraduate career. From winning E-week this year with all the hard work from very dedicated and committed mech community to competing in the ball model in my second year with a small group of friends. We went from design conception to sourcing materials and building the overall contraption. I was finally able to realize my dream of building a claw machine. I am super thankful for my friends joining my team and their dedication to the project. There is nothing quite like building something from scratch, getting your fingers superglued onto the project and getting a burn from the activator. This experience will forever be engrained in my memory as a very stressful but thrilling time.

Introduction to Club Mech

Hi gears and peers, nice to meet you all! My name is Janet and I am one of the ambassadors in the Mechanical Engineering student services office. This is my first time doing a blog post, and it’s all so new and exciting! As a student ambassador and the president of Club Mech, I am looking forwards to interacting with everyone and should you choose to join Mech, I would love to see you at our events.

So who or what is Club Mech? Club Mech, or Mechanical Engineering Club, is the undergraduate society representing all of the Mechanical students. We host events to bring together the mech community, stock the club room with snacks and fun drinks, organize professional development opportunities, and skills building sessions! Most importantly we love to hear your feedback about Mechanical Engineering in general, various course work or what events you would like to see for the mech population.

You can find our club room in CEME 2207, we have a Switch, microwaves, many comfortable couches great for napping, and tables perfect for studying between classes!

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out to me through the student ambassador email or comment below! If you have any specific Club Mech related questions, please email the president email at I look forward to interacting with everyone soon!

Have a great start to your summer and I’ll see you all on my next post!


On a day like today when the breeze moves the branches of the trees and the clouds extend over the sky in a sea of pastel colours, I get flash backs of the days when I thought school would never be over, when I thought school was too hard for me to handle. I let out a big sigh today and I get nostalgic for ever thinking that I was not capable of achieving my dreams and giving up on myself before I had the chance to try.

I have had a dream for such a long time: I dreamed about being a Mechanical Engineer from UBC, having friends to share my daily experiences and learning about how the world around me works. Today I can say I have successfully accomplished this dream. I am so thankful to the people who have helped me make this happen, because if it wasn’t for their push and support, I would have given up a long time ago. For the past two weeks I have been thinking about my years at UBC, and how it has changed me for the better. I have faced so many challenges along the way that taught me how to be strong and to never give up. I have literally grown thick skin, which I hope can help me in future adventures and professional careers.

I just wanted to write this blog to thank you all for making my time at UBC memorable. Thank you to the Mech Student Service Office for their years of support and help, thank you Mech staff for always being kind and generous, thank you to the best facilities team that with dedication have made us feel proud of our department. Special thanks for those professors that multiple times encourage me to learn for the sake of learning – not to get good grades, especially those that saw potential in me when I didn’t think I had any. Thank you to Larry, the janitor in the second floor of CEME who always greeted me, and helped me keep the club room clean. Finally, I would like to thank my amazing team of executives in Club Mech, my family, and friends for motivating me to keep going.

Well, it is almost the end of this term and I am getting ready to write some of my last finals EVER and finishing Capstone documentation. Cheers to my last year, and believe me when I say that in no time, it will be your last one too. Feel free to ask any questions to the future Mech Ambassadors at

“Good morning! Oh, and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and goodnight”

Truman Burbank


Diana Nino


E-week has Come and Gone! MECH Rocked!

Original photo from: UBC Engineering Undergraduate Society Facebook Page

This week was super fun, but also busy. The life of a Mech student sometimes makes you wish that days can actually be longer than 24 hours. Most Mech students are involved in extra-curricular activities. Some are part of Club Mech or student teams such as, Baja, Formula, Thunderbots, AeroDesign, etc.; others are part of ex-officio clubs, such as Alpha Omega Epsilon (AOE), Sigma Phi Delta (SPD) and Women in Engineering (WiE). There are a lot of positive things that come out of joining groups like these at UBC. In my opinion, the most valuable skills you can learn from these activities is the ability to work with people and effectively succeed in the accomplishment of a project. Whether your interest is related to technical skills or group management, these groups really give you the opportunity to explore your abilities. This is what Club Mech does for me, and that is why E-WEEK is an important time for our Club.

Original photo: UBC Club Mech Facebook Page

Our goal for this year was to win first place in E-WEEK. As the week went on, we participated in all the activities, but sadly we didn’t get enough points to win 1st place. Mech placed 5th out of 12 engineering teams that competed. Although we did not win, the experience and memories of friendship that were created that week will last a life time.

I think we are lucky that UBC engineering has a good Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS). They organize so many events during the academic year, so undergraduate students from every department have a chance to relax, enjoy and socialize through their university experience. So, thank you to the EUS for organizing such a fantastic E-WEEK! You can find out more about the EUS here.

The sense of community at UBC Engineering is great. By participating in events, clubs and teams, you will meet great people from different departments that can potentially teach you interesting things about their lives and careers.

Until next time,


E-week is Coming

Original Photo from: UBC Engineering Undergraduate Society

This week in particular has been rather crazy for me. I have been trying to organize my schedule to make sure I have enough time for my extracurricular activities, classes and work. Time management is a key skill in the life of a Mech student. We usually get pretty good at this during Mech 2; after all it is a busy program.

Anyways, the reason why life is so busy right now is because E-week starts next week! As Vice-President of Club Mech I have to participate in as many events as possible. For those of you who don’t know, E-week is an undergraduate “Engineering faculty” competition week during the second term of classes and is hosted by the Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS). They plan a lot of events such as opening ceremonies, cooking with beer, true engineer (participants build a structure made out of materials from the dollar store in a short period of time), new red old red (a fun undergraduate and alumni casual networking event), etc. and give participants points for their attendance. The department that has the most points wins the competition.  If you want to know more, you can check out some of the events here. This is an important time for us undergrads to represent the Mechanical Engineering department and show our pride.

In the past, Mech has won the competition many times, but that hasn’t been the case in the last 2 years. Our Club Mech President Ashley Mak wants us to win, so we will do our best to beat the other departments! With all the events going on, I have to make sure I have time to complete my assignments, study and participate in activities. So far, I have managed to set up a schedule that allows me to do everything for that week, but I have to say it will require dedication, long hours and tons of reminders and alarms… I will let you know how it all goes. Fingers crossed that we win E-week!

Hope your week is going great. Thanks for reading.


Hey there!

I can’t believe we’re nearing the end of the term already – I guess time flies when you’re having fun! Or really busy.

I’ve been both these past couple months, what with courses, working at MECH Student Services, working as a TA, and volunteering for my favourite groups, Thunderbots, Club MECH, and EngCite! I got so caught up in all the homework and events that this is my first blog post! So, I’ll start with an introduction:

Hello, my name is Khashina, I’m a 3 ½ year mechatronics student, and Two Truths and A Lie about me are:

  • I’ve roasted marshmallows on an active volcano
  • I can do a backflip from standing position
  • I took a job working outside in -20°C weather just to see if I could

If you think you know which one of those is false, leave a comment or send me a message at and I’ll let you know!

Alright. So the big theme in my life this week is that I have my very last midterm on Friday (!) and then I just have Final Projects and Final Exams! Often, classes will have projects as a large part of the work you do, which is really great because it distributes your grade (no 80% finals for us!) and you get to learn about the material in a more hands-on way. For example, for my manufacturing processes class, I have to choose an object and, through observation, think about how it was made (which might sound boring but did you know water-bottles are made by blowing up hot plastic into water-bottle shaped balloons?)

Well, back to work for me, and please leave a comment or send me an email if you have any questions about being a UBC Mech student or about this post!