First graduating class of SFU Surrey program engineering a better tomorrow

October 05, 2022
MacKenzie Calder, Pamela Subia and Thomas Hruby are the first three graduands from Simon Fraser University’s Sustainable Energy Engineering (SEE) program.

After opening its doors in 2019, a trio of students from Simon Fraser University’s Sustainable Energy Engineering (SEE) program are ready to take on new challenges out in the world as its first graduates.

Operating in SFU Surrey’s new state-of-the art building, the SEE program focuses on engineering fields that develop solutions for harvesting, storing, transmission and the use of energy – skills in great demand and critical to creating a more sustainable world and climate change solutions.

Students learn from researchers focusing on those very issues, from water security to carbon capture. “It has been a rollercoaster,” says Pamela Subia, a 24-year-old student from Ecuador. “[Being in SEE] feels important now, but I guess we’ll see the true importance years from now. It feels like a responsibility to be helpful to future generations.”

The pride from being first graduates from a new program isn’t lost on the three newly minted graduates.

“I knew it would be a one-of-a-kind experience,” says Mackenzie Calder. “Climate change is my generation’s defining global issue and I am not one to sit on the sidelines. Being part of the first graduating class was one of the reasons I joined SEE.”

The school’s first cohort is already creating change in the community, partnering with the City of Vancouver and CityStudio Vancouver to develop electric engines for the Stanley Park train.

The project has helped actualize the school’s core mission.

 “It showed our group that everything we learned during our time in the program had a purpose, and this will ring true even more in our future careers as sustainable energy engineers,” says Thomas Hruby, 23.

“The program is revolutionary. Not only does it come at a critical time, but it is changing to adapt with the world and its needs.”

The program is also unique in its high ratio—more than 40 per cent—of female students.

They are current students like Surrey’s Danielle Arciaga, who recently completed two coop terms working for Metro Vancouver’s Liquid Waste Department. She is part of Women in Clean Tech (WiCT), a fledgling SFU club with over 60 members, whose design team recently netted the rising star award for its innovative design of a net-zero building at an international sustainable development competition.

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