Student Experience – Omid Javadi
Omid Javadi chose the part-time option for the MEL in Integrated Water Management so he could continue working as a technical engineer and project manager. He talks to us about the challenges and benefits of going to school part time.
Why did you choose the MEL in Integrated Water Management?
Since graduating with a degree in chemical engineering from UBC in 2009, I’ve been working for my family’s hazardous waste treatment firm, Sumas Environmental Services. Our company provides a range of services, including waste treatment, site remediation, soil remediation, ground water management and oil spill response equipment.
My work primarily involves mechanical and manufacturing design for our modular water treatment systems, as well as facility upgrades and management, but I’ve also had lots of exposure to the business side of engineering through my work as a project and personnel manager.
I’ve been lucky to work on a variety of projects and hone a number of skills, but much of my management technique has been learned from practice. I thought the Master of Engineering Leadership would be a good opportunity for me to learn more developed management skills. I was also starting to do more work with our water treatment division, so the Integrated Water Management program seemed well suited to that.
Why did you choose the part-time option?
There were various factors involved in my decision. Primarily, the part-time program made more sense as my family business needs my ongoing attention, and it meant I could put my education immediately into practice.
How have you found the first few months of the program?
It’s been a positive experience so far. The biggest challenge is, of course, managing working essentially full time, and also doing the best I can in school. I was also spending a lot of time commuting prior to COVID-19 related restrictions. I’ve had a good experience with the coursework, and the people in the program, both my fellow students and the administrative staff, have been accommodating and kind.
I took one course in the first semester – an engineering course on water treatment design. I’ll take my other engineering classes over the summer, with more business courses being taken in the fall and winter.
How do you find being a part-time student?
My engineering class is with the other students in the Integrated Water Management program, but since I’m not currently taking any business courses – which bring together students in all the MEL programs as well as the Master of Health Leadership and Policy programs – I haven’t had the opportunity to make a lot of connections. Also, after my class, I’ve generally just headed back to work, so there has been less time for socializing.
Initially it was a bit jarring shifting back and forth from the theory to the practical every day, but I’m in more of a rhythm now. You definitely have to be aware of deadlines and work to be ahead of schedule.
What’s it like to work while going to school?
I’m still working at full capacity right now. I will adjust my work schedule as my course load increases, but generally I’m still working around 35 hours a week. The biggest challenge will be the business bootcamp course in the summer, as it requires me to attend school full time for three weeks. That means I’ll need to take three weeks of vacation to do the course, and will then need to catch up on work afterwards. Never an easy task, even when you’re taking an actual vacation!
Do you see opportunities to apply the knowledge you’re gaining at school to your work?
Well, I’ve only taken one course so far and it was very interesting. However, we don’t use much in the way of bio-reactors at my facility. In terms of how doing this degree might help my career, I felt like I needed more training to hone some of my skills and to add a wider technical knowledge base. This course certainly helped add a framework for designing these systems going forward.