“Don’t choose engineering because someone else told you to, choose engineering because you can learn and work on projects you are passionate about.”

What has made your time at UBC the most memorable?

My time at UBC was made most memorable through my involvement on the UBC Track and Field Team.  I met and competed with so many amazing athletes that have become some of my best friends and I would have never otherwise known them had I chosen not to compete. Competing on the Track and Field Team helped me achieve more than I thought I was capable of in terms of athletic goals and also pushed me to become more involved through community outreach and volunteer programs. My involvement with track took me on some unforgettable adventures to new places that I wouldn’t have had a chance to visit during my degree if I hadn’t been on the team. Competing on the UBC Track and Field team will definitely be the thing I miss most about my university experience.

Why did you choose Engineering?

I had known that I wanted to be an engineer from a young age. I used to love playing with a set of K’nex when I was growing up and would come up with my own designs to improve upon the ones that came in the instructions. I would also take apart a remote-controlled car I had when it would stop working properly and fix it back to normal. My mom noticed things like this and mentioned that maybe I’d be an engineer one day. At that time I didn’t know what an engineer was so she explained it to me, I thought it sounded like an exciting career and that stuck with me all the way through elementary and high school until I started university.

Tell me about your experience in Engineering. What have you learned that is most valuable?

The thing I have learned is most valuable directly through my studies is critical thinking and the ability to thoroughly evaluate a problem. I’ve found thinking critically is important because information from others can’t always be trusted as being 100% accurate, assessing the information for yourself and picking through the details to find flaws is important in avoiding problems that may prevent you from reaching your end goal. 

Outside of academics, I have found that being involved in as many ways as possible is the best thing that you can do to get the most out of your university experience.  Through my involvement in volunteer positions and student teams, I’ve met some amazing people, made new friends, worked on solving non-academic challenges that I will face in my career, and added valuable experience to my resume.

How are you applying the skills you learned through your studies at UBC?

I’m applying the skills I’ve learned at UBC to make the most important consumer product on the planet: beer.

I am currently working at Labatt Brewing where I am a Group Manager of the Packaging department. In this role I am using my teamwork and communication skills with the other managers in my group as well as the employees operating our equipment. 

This line of work also involves the use of hundreds of mechanical systems that must all work in unison for the production line to operate successfully. Because we work with such complex systems that operate with fine tolerances, mechanical problems and breakdowns are common. Mechanical issues on the line give me the opportunity to exercise my problem solving skills and help find the root cause of a problem to try to solve the problem at its source.

In addition, none of our production line machines are designed perfectly and never will be.  This means that there is constant room for improvement and I have the opportunity to come up with my own innovations to improve our equipment and be a part of bringing these solutions to life through engineering design.

What has been your most memorable/valuable non-academic experience studying engineering at UBC?

Non-academic experiences are the ones that will make your time at university memorable. No one remembers the time they aced a quiz or a test, they remember the student teams they were a part of, rec sports, the wild adventures they had in rez life, the undie run and the list goes on. Collectively, my non-academic experiences at UBC are what made my degree most memorable and helped add valuable experience to my resume. I don’t think I could choose one experience that could trump the others in every way. Varsity athletics taught me to be disciplined, goal-oriented, and hardworking; in rec sports I picked up skills in sports I was less talented in and just played for fun with friends; in rez life I met some of my best friends, had my greatest adventures and (eventually) learned to balance my school and social life.

How do you feel a degree in Engineering has benefitted you compared to a different field of study?

It’s hard not to mention jobs in this question. Engineering is known as the best undergraduate degree in terms of job prospects upon graduation (and throughout your degree) and in my experience that rings true. While studying at UBC I worked in student positions for Powertech Labs and Levelton Consultants in the summers.  These jobs helped me gain valuable experience to my resume and helped pay for my tuition.  Within three months of graduation I had signed on with one of the largest beverage companies in the world helping make a line of products that I’m proud to have my name behind.

What advice would you give a student considering Engineering?

Make sure that you are entering a field that you are truly interested in. Don’t choose engineering because someone else told you to, choose engineering because you can learn and work on projects you are passionate about. If you don’t know if engineering is right for you, contact Engineering Student Services and set up a meeting with departments you are considering, look into student teams you find interesting, prepare some questions and get some answers.

Engineering is a tough degree to earn but it is also very rewarding. If you’re passionate about the work, you’ll succeed. If you find yourself constantly thinking of other things you’d rather be doing, explore your options and find the kind of work you would be doing even if someone wasn’t giving you a paycheque every two weeks.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I find my inspiration through other people.  I’m a competitive person, when I see someone else achieving success in a similar role to my own, I try to figure out how I can use similar techniques to improve my performance.

What are your plans for the future–immediate? Long-term?

In the immediate future I plan to make a sandwich, I’ve been writing too long. Looking into the future I’d like to travel and visit as much of the world as I can, party at Tomorrowland and buy myself a Porsche 911 Turbo, the dream car I’ve always wanted.

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

By providing the party nectar that will help make for some new friends, unforgettable nights and crazy adventures!

David Slade has also been instrumental in rallying the UBC community to raise money for the United Way Applied Science Turkey 2K Trot – learn more about David’s contributions: Outstanding Engineering Student and Varsity Athlete Brings Success to the UBC United Way Campaign