APSC 100 FAQs - IGEN

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Below are frequently asked questions and answers relating to the IGEN program.

General

What is Integrated Engineering?

Students who choose IGEN are focused on getting experience through extensive hands-on project work, through combining different disciplines of their choosing to get a more focused technical background than might be possible in other engineering departments, and in taking on more responsibility in directing their overall academic paths. Integrated Engineering (IGEN) is a tight-knit community of students who have an unconventional and exciting vision for their engineering degree that is based on adapting to the modern world.  

In addition to the UBC IGEN program webpage, please check out the revised student-administered Integrated Engineering site, primarily for current IGEN students but open to all to see:

    https://www.integratedengineers.ca/

What are examples of the typical types of work or tasks that someone in Integrated Engineering does?

IGEN students work in year-long project teams in every year of the program, relying on teammates while still pushing expectations for themselves. IGENs  also add gain a perspective on all of the other engineering disciplines, as they take core courses alongside students almost all other engineering programs, as well as focused technical electives in their areas of specialization.   Integrated Engineering students specialize in working between the defined lines which might restrict graduates from the more conventional engineering disciplines. IGENS find it easy to move between tasks and work, adapting to the job rather than forcing it to work for them, and to take on responsibilities which might involve a variety of specializations.     

Projects are an integral part of Integrated Engineering - IGENs must complete at least 3 two-term design course, held in each year of the program. Students in all years are responsible for generating and sourcing their own project ideas - the responsibility for students to identify, develop, and evaluate their own project topics to share and debate among their classmates is one of the greatest opportunities for our students to take ownership of their own education.   Coupled with this experience are specific courses designed to train IGENs to develop their independent project ideas and refine them for pitching with their classmates, to think entrepreneurially about their future careers, whether it is in energy storage, electric vehicles, large-scale infrastructure and building consulting agencies, or high-tech opportunities. 

Student groups are asked to develop a project, do whatever design is necessary and build whatever they proposed to build to showcase at the year-end Design and Innovation Day event hosted by UBC APSC.   In addition, these courses teach project management, communication skills and most importantly, how to work in groups. 

Integrated Engineering students also make strong leaders, and are often involved in leadership positions around campus and in industry.   

Program

What distinguishes IGEN from other engineering programs at UBC?

In IGEN, students have the flexibility to define their own unique path through their engineering education. Choice occurs through the 18 credits of technical electives that students use to establish primary and secondary themes in third and fourth year.   This allows students to build technical depth in areas which are specific to their needs, and to find ways to combine different disciplines into a technical background which potentially makes them stronger than specializing in one specific area.  

Group projects in the IGEN design courses also provide flexibility and allow students to bring together different learning backgrounds (similar to the real world) in order to tackle problems that are proposed by students. 

Additionally, the size of the IGEN program (approximately 50 students in each year) makes for a vibrant community atmosphere. IGEN students are invested in running the facilities and directing the resources provided by the program and through this, help to enrich the learning environment.

What are the typical courses that someone in Integrated Engineering takes?

  • There are three main groups of courses that Integrated Engineering students draw from each semester.
    • IGEN Courses
      • IGEN 230, 330 and 430 are the IGEN dedicated design project courses that run each winter session. They are 6 credit courses that all IGEN students must complete before they are able to graduate.
      • IGEN 340 – Technology Entrepreneurship is a course focused on understanding the skills necessary to commercialize technology, running in parallel with the third year IGEN 330 design course to add business and project management context to the project that is being conducted. This course is unique to IGEN and is of interest to many students who are passionate about entrepreneurship and business management.  Instructors for the course have been from outside of UBC, in order to bring a perspective about entrepreneurship and industry to our students.
    • Core Competency Courses
      • The IGEN STTs for 2nd, 3rd and 4th year are fitted with courses taught by faculty in engineering departments outside of IGEN. These courses are carefully selected and routinely evaluated to ensure that IGEN students gain exposure to the fundamental aspects of engineering that are most prevalent in all fields of applied science. Thermodynamics, heat transfer, solid mechanics, fluid mechanics, electronics and electromechanics, materials for engineering design and controls are some of the main competencies that are addressed. As in all other engineering program, mathematics, engineering economics and engineering ethics courses are also included.
    • Electives
      • As students progress through each year’s IGEN STT, the number of core courses diminishes and more slots are available for technical electives. These electives can be taken from any of the other departments with Applied Science, and are the opportunity to find courses (or groups of courses) that interest you. By the end of fourth year, students will have taken nine credits in a primary technical focus from one engineering department, six credits in a secondary technical focus (from a different department) and three credits in a tertiary technical focus. The three credits from the tertiary focus can also be from the two departments that make up your primary and secondary, or they can be from a completely different department.

What is a typical course load in Integrated Engineering?

IGEN students take course loads that are similar to the other engineering programs. Between six and seven courses per term is normal for students wanting to finish their degree in four years. Students have also been known to change the load distribution of their courses in order to have different experiences at different times during their degree (e.g. being involved with student politics and design teams, working part- or full-time, starting businesses while finishing their degree). As long as some conditions are met, the program is extremely flexible with students modifying their schedule to suit their needs.

Career

What types of industries and jobs does someone in Integrated Engineering work in?

Industries looking for IGEN graduates are as diverse as the people who come through the program. Grads have gone on to complete post-graduate work, work in companies of every size throughout North America and many other locations around the globe. Depending on the courses you select as you move through the program, the work environments change with your preferences. Community driven enterprises that are vibrant and looking to have a real impact in the world often draw the attention of IGEN students because of the program’s similar appeal. Anywhere an engineer can work, an IGEN graduate can be perfectly placed. The broad education and focus on technical problem solving and design allows them to move fluidly into any industry and succeed.

A very small sample of companies and positions held by IGEN alums:

  • Lululemon Athletica (Senior Systems Admin)
  • Copperleaf Technologies (Solutions Consultant)
  • AECOM (Asset Management)
  • BC Hydro (EIT)
  • Solaris MCI (Pipeline Engineer)
  • Vorum RC (International Implementation Specialist)
  • City of Vancouver (Senior Street Use & Traffic Coordination Engineer)  (Project Engineer)
  • Telus (Design Specialist - Inside Plant Engineering)
  • Ballard Power (Research Engineer)
  • Ledcor (Senior Project Planner)
  • Visier (Software Engineer)
  • Inovatec Systems (Relationship Manager, Lender Accounts)
  • Primary Engineering and Construction Corporation  (Solar Energy Consultant)
  • Dynamic Attractions (Assistant Project Manager)

What is the job market like for Integrated Engineering?

The job market for Integrated Engineers depends on each individual’s course work background (technical focus). Each student is specialized in a different way, and thus will pursue a career relative to their interests. All IGEN students have the advantage of understanding team dynamics very early on, allowing them to progress vertically quickly.

IGEN grads are able to pursue their P.Eng designation within BC under three categories – Integrated Engineering, the engineering discipline of your primary technical focus or the engineering discipline of your secondary technical focus. Median starting salaries for engineers in Canada range from $50k to $80k per year depending on discipline and location according to information collected by PayScale, Inc.

Integrated Engineers have also tended to be very keen on entrepreneurial ventures, with many going on to start their own businesses Examples include Spare Labs, GridCure, and FYBR . Tech hubs throughout Canada and the United States are home to IGEN students who have taken their vision and passion and made it into sustainable business. These opportunities are encouraged and promoted through the education provided in an IGEN degree.

What are typical student experiences in co-op like for Integrated Engineering?

Many IGEN students have completed co-op or independent internships as part of their degree and are always in high demand. From biotech to construction, the relatively new IGEN program has really begun to make a name for itself with companies that is synonymous with hard working, multi-faceted engineers. More often than not, IGEN students find themselves being deeply valued by their co-op employers simply because they are ready and willing to tackle any problem directed to them. The attitude that you can learn anything and apply it is so prevalent within the IGEN community that it gets carried to industry when students go on co-op work terms.

Here are some responses from a recent student survey (Summer 2018) about previous internship and co-op experiences:

  • Tesla - Mechanical Design Intern for Superchargers, InDro Robotics - Junior Autonomous Systems Engineer
  • Kodak - Industrial assembly work off of Solidwork drawings and assembly procedures; NZ Technologies: electromechanical design, battery testing, Solidworks design, 3D printing, circuit design, created assembly procedures, assembled electromechancial systems; Andritz Automation: created the GUI for paper mill operators using python, learned about control systems programming and everything that goes into a multi-million dollar controls project.
  • Worked at UBC Dept of Orthopaedics doing Research with Dr. Wilson. Looked at hip and knee diseases and imaging modalities to improve diagnosis. Also worked at Arbutus Medical as R&D Engineer helping develop surgical devices
  • I did an internship at the Fabrication lab at Zayed University working with the KUKA robot they have there. My time there was focused on learning to use the robot and different industry programs, additionally i was designing and 3D printing parts to help the students in their projects.
  • Blue Spark Energy - Engineering Projects Analyst, TransCanada Pipelines - Pipeline Integrity Data Quality & Strategy analyst
  • Inuvik NWT, managing small construction projects. Calgary, AB: assisting project managers and engineers on large scale liquid pipelines
  • Centre for Hip Health and Mobility - did biomechanics studies using one of the only Upright Open MRI machines in North America!
  • Tesla - Cell Manufacturing R&D, Avalon Battery- Manufacturing Engineering, Assembly Line Design
  • My last job was as a mechanical product designer at an AI start-up.
  • I did a co-op at Qimaging, a company that makes scientific camera equipement, I worked mostly on production and got tons of hands on experience manufacturing electrical components and assembling mechanical assemblies, basically I built cameras from the ground up.
  • Vancouver General Hospital in the biomedical engineering department. I worked on some policy, a modification to one of the devices, and a few other miscellaneous projects.
  • Worked for the City of Duncan doing Civil Engineering. Mostly entailed taking water samples for drinking water and influent and effluent from homes. Also did inventory and infrastructure analysis for the CVRD.
  • Field Engineer on Site C Dam with BC hydro
  • 2x Software Engineering Intern @ Microsoft in Redmond, USA; Manufacturing Engineering Intern @ Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell in Burnaby, Canada; Power Electronics Engineering Intern @ ME SOLshare in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Student Experience

What is it like to be a student in Integrated Engineering?

The Integrated Engineering student’s day is filled with exploration and new ideas; much of the student’s time is spent working on projects with their peers, amalgamating their knowledge from their various classes to create exciting new technologies and products. The engineering student will spend about a quarter of their day in class, learning on a variety of topics that will create a base of knowledge that will allow them to tackle problems from different angles, as opposed to being constrained by one school of thought. The IGEN student’s day will also include a significant amount of time socializing with others within the program, either on their own or through one of the many events held by the program.

What are the unique student experiences in Integrated Engineering?

IGEN students loved to be involved. The IGEN council regularly hosts events to bring the community together in a constructive way. Events that have been held in the past include program-wide ski trips, grad trips, themed events such as Movember Beard Competitions and frequent social nights where everyone is invited to get together. Many IGEN students also take part in award-winning student teams such as Rocket, Sailbot, UAS, Baja, Formula SAE, and Solar Car, and are often drafted into leadership positions due to their ability to coordinate different engineering skill-sets.

The year-end Design and Innovation Day represents the showcase event for all IGEN students - our program is the only one which has every single student participating and showcasing their year-long project to industry guests and to the rest of campus.  This is a great opportunity for IGEN students to not only show off their hard work but to also interact in a professional setting with industry employers who are looking for young talented engineers to join their companies.   More photos of D&I Day 2018

How difficult / challenging is the program?

IGEN is as challenging as you make it out to be – depending on the content, credit load and variety in your course work, difficulty can range quite a bit. Many students who enter IGEN are driven to learn and difficulty is not something they allow to hold them back. Even though the option is often there to take an easier route, IGEN students will often choose the path that better prepares them for the world beyond the walls of UBC, regardless of perceived difficulty.