News & Events

Taking back control

June 25, 2020
UBC MEL SPE Vikram Industry Challenges

By Vikram Yadav, Director of the MEL in Sustainable Process Engineering

The COVID-19 pandemic has left many feeling that they are no longer in control of their lives and careers. The spring of 2020 has been a period of profound change, with a dramatic curtailment of economic activity, significant unemployment and widespread uncertainty about what the future holds.

For those working in the oil and gas industry – and related downstream industries in chemical manufacturing – these shocks have been amplified by the collapse in the price of oil caused by the sudden reduction in demand and geopolitical issues.

There’s also the legitimate concern from those working in the green economy that with the price of oil now so low, there will be a rolling back of the gains we’ve made toward sustainability. Industries or production methods that were economically competitive with those based on fossil fuels may struggle to maintain and grow their market position.

Professionals working in both the traditional and green economies are feeling a sense of precariousness. But there are ways to build resilience – for both our careers and our planet.

Imagine that you were trained to rethink the status quo. That you had a deep understanding of the benefits and challenges associated with various feedstocks, were familiar with conversion technologies and knew which green processes enabled you to make the essential products our society needs.

Now imagine that you combined this expertise with an entrepreneurial mindset and the ability to successfully develop these innovative products.

I believe the Master of Engineering Leadership is one of those rare degrees that offers a foundation for forward-thinking, entrepreneurial professionals to build a new level of control into their careers. It offers the technical grounding to excel in your field and, particularly in the case of the MEL in Sustainable Process Engineering, a strong focus on entrepreneurship. The MEL in Sustainable Process Engineering is an excellent choice for engineers who want to be both technical innovators and business leaders.

The sudden pause in industrial production, air traffic and carbon-based transportation forced upon the world by COVID-19 has enabled many of us to imagine a new future of reduced air pollution, an economy less dependent on fossil fuels, and products and processes based on sustainable supply chains.

As we emerge from this first phase of the COVID-19 crisis, my hope is that there will be a renewed emphasis on sustainable processes and products. We have the technical knowledge to develop products that will enable us to maintain a high quality of life with a reduced environmental footprint. Let’s use this knowledge and our collective energy into shifting to a green future and building more resilience into our careers, economies and ecosystems.