A Quick Study with Vivek Sahay

This ongoing series is aimed at getting to know what motivates and inspires UBC students about their learning — inside and outside the classroom.

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On unwinding, meeting people from all around the world, OneRepublic, Coldplay, Avicci, getting lost in winding streets, and staying focused,

Meet Vivek Sahay, Electrical Engineering, Faculty of Applied Science.

Vivek Sahay


Why UBC?

VS: Out of the places that I applied to UBC had the best engineering program. The fact that UBC is surrounded by so much natural beauty and isn’t a concrete jungle also may have played a role in my decision. I promise, UBC is a really nice campus without all the construction and detours!


You are graduating in May. If you could go back to your first year self and tell them something surprising about what you’ve learned at UBC what might it be?

VS: We all have ups and downs; with all of the stress of engineering you might feel like your life is purely consumed by work. You might think that you have to stay in the lab until the work is done, you are wrong. UBC has great ways of getting involved and to meet new people, go out to an improv show, go to a club event or just go meet your friends for a couple of hours. You will have a lot of fun and most importantly your mind will unwind and you will be able to focus again once you get back to work.


What are your favourite hangouts on campus?

VS: Any green areas! There is nothing like lying down on a patch of grass on a sunny day or sitting at the Rose Garden listening to music while looking out to the mountains. But for those rainy days, Koerner’s Pub is a pretty nice place to hangout and chat with your friends.


You did an exchange program at the University College London (UCL) last year. What were some of the challenges living and studying overseas? What stands out for you as an exceptional experience while you were in London?

Vivek Sahay

VS: Academically, it was a matter of getting used to the way they teach. There is a lot more emphasis on self-learning at UCL than at UBC. Also, having your grade in some course be based solely on a 100% final is pretty scary!

As most exchange students will say, the absolute best thing about going on exchange is meeting people from all over the world. When you are on exchange you aren’t as pressured and stressed about school, you get a chance to really explore and enjoy what the city has to offer and while you share those experiences with other exchange students you get close very quickly. I now have very close friends all over the world!

One of my favorite things to do was to just walk around and get lost in the winding streets of the city. Several times, as I was walking around the city I would get lost in my own thoughts and it is during those moments that I reflected on my life and what I wanted for the future. After London, I had a better grasp of what I wanted to do in life and I became much more relaxed and stopped stressing over the little things. I am amazed at how much I grew as a person and how much I learned about myself in a 6-month period.

Vivek Sahay


What is on your playlist these days?

VS: All sorts of things: OneRepublic (Good Life, I Lived, Secrets), Coldplay (A Sky Full of Stars, Fix you), Avicci (The Nights), Milky Chance (Stolen Dance), Vallis Alps (Young), Clean Bandit (Rather Be)


What kind of unique skills are required to be a good electrical engineer?

VS: You need to be able to make decisions very quickly and you have to be able to put aside your frustrations to stay focused so you can get the work or project finished. You are put to the test when you are two days away from the final demo of an 8-month project and your board is fried due to uncontrollable circumstances. During those stressful moments you can either choose to quit and be frustrated or you can figure out how to overcome the obstacle; we choose the latter.


What are your plans this summer?

VS: After 5 years of Engineering I need a break! I’m going to take this time to enjoy Vancouver and do all of the things that I haven’t had a chance to do; 5 years later and I still haven’t been to Whistler! I’ll also be traveling a bit to visit family and friends, now that I have friends all over I have a perfect excuse to fly around. Something else I am really looking forward to is starting to play the guitar again after a 4-year hiatus—maybe all those experiences from London will turn into a song.

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