Connecting employers to the engineers of tomorrow

Transformative Learning | Strategy 13: Practical Learning
Theme: Innovation
Cam Younger and Francesco Ferri, two Mechanical Engineering students at UBC, completed their co-op terms at Study-Build, a design studio on Quadra Island | Photo credit: Study-Build

Finding the right help for the right length of time can often be challenging for small to medium businesses. 

Andreas “Dre” Hagen, owner of Study-Build (a design-build studio on Quadra Island), has filled short-term roles with UBC Applied Science Co-op students on several occasions. “I want people who are creative and open to learning new things, excited to own and solve real problems, and able to work closely and collaboratively with design and with business development to engineer solutions that both deliver value and cost-efficiency,” said Hagen. “At the same time, I need them to have enough skills and work experience to hit the ground running and contribute to our team from the get-go.” 

That ready-to-work attitude and aptitude is what draws him to UBC Applied Science Co-op students, who offer technical skills and hands-on experience from innovative engineering design team projects and previous jobs. He also values that he is able to work with students on a full-time basis for at least four months at a time. 

Francesco Ferri, now a fourth-year mechanical engineering student at UBC Vancouver, looks back on his co-op between May to December 2021 fondly. He was drawn to Study-Build as an opportunity to work in a small, highly innovative environment and to build long-lasting relationships. Not only did he build those strong bonds – going on Sunday bike rides and sailing adventures with the team around stunning Quadra Island – he also discovered the satisfaction of applying his technical skills to the workplace. 

“Working in a small community, I learned how local business collaboration can make small-scale manufacturing profitable, allowing them to expand while keeping transportation and inventory costs at a minimum,” said Ferri. “It feels incredibly rewarding to leave behind tools that I developed for Study-Build and their partners to develop more products together.” 

Cam Younger, a third-year UBC Okanagan mechanical engineering student who was at Study-Build for a year, agrees that the opportunity to work in a smaller business environment and lead a project from start to finish was a huge draw. He credits Hagen, his supervisor, for providing the chance to undertake a wide variety of responsibilities and opportunities to explore design concepts within different fields, allowing Younger to learn rapidly. 

“During my time with Study-Build, I most valued Dre’s direct support and mentorship, as well as the large variety of responsibilities and opportunities to explore design concepts within different fields,” said Younger. “I learned a vast amount of technical knowledge, including around audio equipment, acoustics and industrial automation, but the most important learning was from Dre’s investment in teaching me time management, communication of ideas, and start-up design philosophy.” 

Please visit the Faculty of Applied Science website to read the full story.

Through Strategy 13: Practical Learning, UBC is committed to working with external partners and alumni to increase experiential learning for our students – ‘learning by doing’ across academic programs, and to enhance career services.