Advanced Materials Manufacturing
Alumnus Story – Matthew Smale
Matthew Smale began his engineering career in construction and then moved into the oil and gas sector as a project manager. But when the price of oil collapsed in mid-2014, he knew it was time to shift into a less volatile industry.
The Master of Engineering Leadership (MEL) program in Advanced Materials Manufacturing offered the ideal pathway to this career change – equipping him with the sector-specific technical skills to excel in the automotive, aerospace and manufacturing industries.
Simulation tools and case studies make learning relevant
Matthew says the use of simulation tools and case studies gave him practical and relevant experience. “The materials courses were technical and hands-on,” he says. “For example, in one of the first-term courses we looked at continuous casting of steel using advanced industry software to model and analyze the process.”
Another course allowed students to work on case studies with industry professionals. One project involved testing various materials to lower the weight of the inner door panel of a Ford Fusion in an effort to improve the car’s energy efficiency. Students held technical meetings with representatives from both Ford and the organization that certifies lightweight vehicles.
Business classes encourage self-reflection
Before enrolling in the MEL program, Matthew had worked as a project manager, developing his leadership and management skills on the job. The leadership and business classes that make up 40 per cent of MEL courses gave him new insight into both his strengths and weaknesses and allowed him to deepen his skills in this area.
He says that while he was always comfortable giving presentations, he was able to experiment with new approaches in his business classes. In addition, the analysis of management styles in his course on organizational leadership gave him greater awareness of the importance of adopting different management strategies depending on the situation.
“I now have a lot more confidence when speaking or leading a technical meeting,” he says. “Having this credential and the year of experience at UBC studying alongside other students with diverse professional backgrounds has boosted my overall confidence.”
Taking off in a new industry
In the fall semester of the program, Matthew was invited to attend the 2016 Canadian Aerospace Summit in Ottawa, where he connected with more than 50 industry professionals. He built on this network of contacts to pursue and secure a position as an operational project leader at ASCO Aerospace Canada in Delta, BC.