March is National Engineering Month in Canada – our country’s biggest celebration of a profession that is moving the world forward by shaping how we live, travel, communicate, learn and play.
CareerMash joined the celebration and interviewed three young and inspirational Canadian engineers to see what motivates them to keep pushing the status quo in areas like wearable tech, mobile apps and social entrepreneurship.
Pedram Ataee, Machine Learning Engineer - Thalmic Labs
Pedram is part of the team that is revolutionizing the field of wearable tech with MYO - an armband device that allows users to wirelessly control their computer, phone or any other tech device through simple arm gestures. He pursued engineering because he became incredibly fascinated with its power in solving real-world problems:
“When you think about everything we use in our daily lives - from a simple Google search to virtually any tech device – it’s the mathematical algorithms that run all of these things.”
Sara Ahmadian, Software Engineer and Social Entrepreneur – The Laundry
Sara Ahmadian is a software engineer who is currently working on The Laundry - a social project in the Silicon Valley that will create hands-on programs for youth to learn the basics of computer science. She thinks it’s very important for young people to become aware of the career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM):
“You really feel empowered to change the world as an engineer because you have the skills and passion to build your idea - without significant costs or obstacles.”
Farhan Thawar, Vice President of Engineering – Pivotal Labs
Farhan Thawar is the Vice President of Engineering at Pivotal Labs - a tech company that enables their clients to build software and continue to innovate. He’s passionate about engineering because it provides people with the training and the thinking to find better ways to do things:
“The engineering mindset involves always coming up with ideas to automate manual and dull processes and then bringing your ideas to life.”
But despite all of the great things that engineering knowledge allows us to accomplish, it’s still not a popular postsecondary program choice among Canadian youth. Precisely, only 18.6% of people choose STEM fields of study, according to Statistics Canada. So what keeps our youth away from these careers?
“I think there’s a huge lack of communication and encouragement, especially in high schools, about the numerous opportunities in STEM careers,” Sara says. And this is exactly the issue she is planning to tackle with The Laundry project.
Pedram believes that many students dismiss math as difficult or boring, which is why he suggests students should ask their teachers about the purpose of each formula and how it can be used in the real world. “And that’s when math gets really exciting,” he says.
The three engineers also generously shared their best advice to help students discover their dream career and become successful in life:
- 'Pick a person who is already established in a certain industry and look at their career path. Then ask yourself: is this the life I want to live? Doing that will save you lots of valuable time and money and will enlighten your path in life” – Pedram Ataee
- Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you – this will motivate and inspire you to work harder than you’ve ever worked before and therefore become more successful” – Farhan Thawar
- “In life and in work, always pick something you find a little bit scary. For example, pick a job where you know 70% of the work - the remaining 30% will be your room for growth” – Farhan Thawar
- “Remember: success is not about money or doing well at work or even being a great partner – it’s about being confident and happy with who you are” – Sara Ahmadian