A Quick Study with Veronica Knott
About A Quick Study
This ongoing series is aimed at getting to know what motivates and inspires UBC students about their learning — inside and outside the classroom.
Meet Veronica Knott, Engineering student, Faculty of Applied Science.
VK: I was actually unsure about what topic to study — let alone what school to attend! In the end, I decided to pursue engineering and after that the decision was easy. UBC has an amazing engineering school that is unparalleled in its industry relations. As well, I was so excited for the opportunity to come here from Toronto and study in this beautiful city. I actually didn’t visit UBC until after I’d already accepted. I showed up and it rained the whole weekend but I still fell in love with the campus, the student leaders I met and the city of Vancouver.
How did you become involved with the Engineering Undergraduate Society? How has being president shaped your view on Engineering?
VK: On Imagine Day in my first year, I met a bunch of spirited individuals who were so proud of being engineers. I was hooked. I started out with smaller volunteer roles but as I got more involved I started to see opportunities for improvement. My desire to make these changes motivated me to take on larger positions like VP External and eventually, President.
My year as President felt like a blur, an amazing life-changing blur. I wanted to make the EUS more welcoming, inclusive and diverse. I had a remarkable team who helped me achieve this dream. We toiled through sleepless nights, what felt like never ending pages of policy, and probably one too many cups of coffee. In the end, we were able to complete all our goals and set up the society for (hopefully) a successful future.
What being president taught me more than anything was that engineering is all about team building. As President, I learnt that leadership is not a solo career and that I was only as great as my team. This extends to engineering. Throughout our degree and our career, we work in teams. Teamwork and communication is one of the core values of being an engineer. You can see this from our group projects to the collaboration at the top levels like NASA. I think that’s what makes engineering such a strong community—we rely on each other. One of the biggest misconceptions about engineering is that we are sitting alone with numbers. In truth, we are constantly surrounded by people, as we create technology that improves society. That is what I love about engineering; the people.
What is the “Iron Pin” initiative? Why is it important to you?
VK: The Iron Pin initiative was a small comment that turned into an amazing idea. EUS Council was sitting in a meeting with the Dean and our department heads and we were discussing how to increase the meaning of ethics in our degree. A small suggestion of a Code of Ethics morphed into an amazing tradition. With the hard work of my team and brainstorming with my Council, the Iron Pin was created. It had two main goals. First, to bring together the engineering first year students. We wanted something that would encourage a sense of unity within our general first year. Second, we wanted to instil the importance of ethics as a part of our profession. When we graduate, we adhere to an Engineering Code of Ethics governed by our provincial organization. We wanted to create a UBC Code of Ethics, so we could encourage our students to adhere to similar but relevant values during their time at UBC. It will be my proudest legacy to see this event continue and become an integral part of the EUS.
Have you always wanted to be an engineer?
VK: I honestly never considered being an engineer until my final year of high school. I had always been good at science but I didn’t know what to do with it. That was when my high school physics teacher talked to me about engineering. She showed us that it was about solving real world problems and instantly I was intrigued. I did some research and I realized this was exactly the profession I was looking for.
I was lucky enough that my parents had encouraged me to continue taking all the sciences so I had all the courses necessary to apply to UBC. In my outreach to high schools, this is the biggest thing I’ve heard. That girls, and guys, stop taking science courses early on and don’t realize all the amazing doors it can open. That’s my biggest piece of advice, keep your options open.
Who in your life inspires you to pursue your passion?
VK: There are so many people who inspire me on a daily basis but the person who constantly inspires me to achieve my dreams is my mom. First, she is an amazing individual herself. She was successful in her career due to an incredible drive and dedication to perfection. But second, she also managed this career along with raising me. She found a way to be at those recitals, take me on those trips and edit my essays. I look back at what I have already been able to achieve and it’s so much to do with my mom. She taught me to speak my mind, to be confident and to believe in myself. I saw what she was able to achieve and I only hope I can have half the success she has had.
What’s on your playlist these days?
VK: I’m obsessed with the new songs by Mike Posner — most specifically “Be as You Are (Jordan XL Remix)”. I love listening to things on repeat, especially upbeat music while I’m studying.
What was it like hosting and winning National Mining Games at UBC?
VK: I was in Materials Engineering until I transferred this year into Mining. I was pretty certain Mining was the department for me but part of me was still uncertain. When I got to compete in the Mining Games this year, it proved to me I’d made the right decision. The technical competitions were exciting and educational and the people were fantastic. We had students from ten different engineering schools in twenty-one different competitions. UBC placed in fifteen of these competitions and took home first place overall. It was incredible to be part of the team achieving this and even better that we got to host it on home soil. We had sponsors and alumni from UBC in attendance and it made us even more determined to win. This experience was made even better as I have been named Co-Captain for Mining Games 2017. I can’t wait until we can repeat our success and hopefully encourage more students to join Mining.