Applied Science Class of 2017
“Engineering is a team sport. It’s daunting and tough on your own, but when you have a group of people to tackle it with it gets a bit easier.”
My name is Rebecca McCreedy, I’m a graduating student from the Department of Mechanical Engineering. I was a fairly involved student in high school, so when I came to university, I looked for ways to get involved in the UBC Engineering community. In my first year, I joined Alpha Omega Epsilon (AOE), UBC’s Engineering Sorority. Throughout my degree, I went on to hold multiple positions within the sorority, including Social Coordinator, Publicity Rep, Secretary, Treasurer, Vice President and eventually President in my final year. In my second year, I became involved with the EUS, becoming a Publicity Rep, which I continued until my fourth year, and started volunteering with eng∙cite at outreach events for high school girls. Over the next three years, my involvement with both the EUS and eng∙cite grew, until I was a member of EUS council, and working as Vlogger on the Engineering Stories YouTube channel for eng∙cite.
Why did you choose engineering?
I chose engineering because I liked math and science in high school, but also loved working on hands-on projects and solving problems. I didn’t really understand what engineering was until I did a project in my physics class where we had to make a bridge out of spaghetti and glue, which I loved, and ended up winning the competition. When I realized this was actually engineering, I started to do more research and I realized that the main aspects of engineering were exactly what I was looking for in my post-secondary education — problem solving and working to make a positive impact on the world.
What has made your time at UBC the most memorable?
The thing that has made my time at UBC the most memorable is the wonderful group of people I have been able to work and study with. I’ve met some really inspiring people who I know are going to change the world, and it’s been so much fun to get to know them, learn from them and work with them. Through my involvement in AOE, I’ve been able to meet a wonderful group of women and have been able to have a strong support system throughout my degree, as well as be able to provide that support system to others. I’ve met some of my best friends in the whole world at UBC, who supported me through my time here, and who I know will be lifelong friends.
What have you learned that is most valuable?
Probably the most valuable thing I’ve learned throughout my studies at UBC is how to apply the various things I’ve learned to real world scenarios. In engineering, especially in mechanical, you learn the theory behind various every day concepts, but it’s only really in project scenarios that you get to learn how to use them. The theory courses end up being the tools you need to solve a problem, but the most valuable thing I’ve learned is how to use those tools effectively.
What has been your most memorable or valuable non-academic experience studying engineering at UBC?
The most valuable non-academic experience I have had at UBC is through my work as a mentor with eng∙cite. Especially over the last year, I’ve answered hundreds of questions from high school students, mostly girls, from grades 9-12. It’s been really fun to see the same faces show up at events over the year, and to give students more information on engineering as a degree, and UBC Engineering in particular. I feel so lucky to be a part of one of the biggest decisions in their lives, and I know I would have been immensely grateful for a mentor like that when I was in high school.
What advice would you give a student considering engineering?
The best advice I’ve heard while at UBC, and that I frequently pass on to high school students at outreach events is that engineering is a team sport. It’s daunting and tough on your own, but when you have a group of people to tackle it with it gets a bit easier. University, and UBC Engineering in particular, is a great time to find a group of people you connect with, whether it’s based on a common interest, a shared sense of humor, a sports team or a club you are involved in. Finding people you can hang out, study and go to class with really makes the day-to-day toughness of engineering a lot easier, because your friends will almost definitely have strengths where you have weaknesses and vice versa. This is something I absolutely loved about engineering — everyone wants everybody else to get through, and people always take the time to help out someone who is struggling.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I find my inspiration most often from the people around me. My parents, friends, mentors and classmates are all strong, thoughtful, smart people who are doing amazing things in this world, and they drive me and support me in my efforts to make a positive impact on the community around me.
What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future include taking a much needed summer vacation, and travelling Europe for June and July, something I’ve wanted to do for years. In August, I will come back to Vancouver to start work at Rokstad Power, a company I did co-op with, in a full time position. I’m also looking to start an Alumnae chapter of AOE in Vancouver, to keep in touch with everyone I’ve met through my years at UBC, and to continue to support the active AOE chapter at UBC. The goal with this chapter is to later expand this to a group for young professional women in male-dominated fields.
How will you go on to make a difference in our world?
I hope to make a difference in our world by continuing to drive for gender equality in engineering, first by continuing to support organizations such as eng∙cite, promoting engineering for high school girls, and also to extend this to the professional world, where women still face significant challenges. STEM outreach has been my passion project during my degree, and I hope to continue that passion when I’m out of university, in the working world.
Original story: APSC News