Alumni Spotlight, People
Kelowna native Graham Pavlik reaps the benefits of studying close to home
December 16, 2015
Mechanical Engineering (Co-op)
Okanagan (Kelowna, BC)
Bachelor of Science (2013)
“I like working on local projects and seeing the effects they have on the community.”
GRAHAM PAVLIK IS NO STRANGER to the Okanagan Valley, where he’s lived most of his life. When deciding where to attend university, the choice was easy.
“Staying close to home to get my degree was the natural fit for me,” says Pavlik. “Kelowna was a great place to grow up and live in. When I had the opportunity to attend the University of British Columbia in the Okanagan, I had another reason to stay. ”
Staying local may have contributed to Pavlik’s seemingly easy transition to the university. During his five years as a Co-op mechanical engineering student he hit few roadblocks.
“Obviously the program was a lot of work but if you put in the effort, it will be well worth it,” he says.
THE BENEFITS OF HARD WORK
Pavlik took advantage of UBC’s Engineering Co-op program, where semesters alternate between course and work terms, adding a year to the bachelor’s degree.
After gaining more theoretical and practical experience on campus, Pavlik was confident about branching out and applying for work outside of BC. He worked twice for Cenovus Energy, a Canadian oil company based in Calgary. Initially he was employed in the office and then later returned to work in the field.
“The fundamentals I gained during the courses gave me a solid foundation that helped me learn and apply new things in the workplace.”
“All of my internships were valuable, contributing to a breadth of experience and in determining the type of projects I enjoy. When working in a particular area you realize pretty quickly whether it’s a good fit.
“I really recommend the Co-op program. You get to apply what you’ve learned in class to real-world situations. Then, when you return to your school term, you have a different perspective; you appreciate the relevance of the course material.”
One of Pavlik’s work-terms was for Dr. Homayoun Najjaran, an associate professor in the School of Engineering.
“At UBC Okanagan the class sizes are small so you’re able to establish close relationships with your professors,” Pavlik says. “Thanks to their open-door policy it’s easy to approach them and discuss course material. questions you have regarding the course material.”
Pavlik says that he benefitted from great support from many of his professors and that Najjaran was particularly encouraging.
“Professor Najjaran asked me to help with his robotic research, which was a great chance to get a taste for this type of work.”
He is extremely appreciative of this experience and credits it with guiding him toward his chosen career.
A CLOSE-KNIT CAMPUS
The size of UBC Okanagan also facilitates close relationships with fellow students and involvement with student clubs and associations.
Pavlik joined Formula UBC, an engineering student team that designs, builds, and races Formula 1-style race cars.
“It was a fantastic experience,” he says. “I learned to work in groups and how to work with people who have different skills than I do. Once again, these are transferable skills that are important for the workplace.”
COMMUNITY IS KEY
“It was great to be part of a campus that is growing, with new facilities, and yet not too swamped with people,” Pavlik says.
“The student environment is very encouraging and the small classes really allow for meaningful relationships.”
The sense of community followed Pavlik to his first permanent job, where he’s a pipeline project engineer at CH2M in Vancouver. He landed the job before graduation; now, after almost two years, he’s continuing to learn and be involved in exciting new projects.
“I like working on projects that are local and seeing the effects on the community,” he says. “My studies and varied work terms certainly helped prepare me for this work. Since I’ve graduated I have had several projects that are close to home. It’s great to see these in progress and point them out to friends.”
Indeed. Keep your eyes open on the Coquihalla Highway near Hope, BC, where Pavlik’s project is being installed.