Asian Heritage Month: Gary Shum

May 16, 2023

I am from Hong Kong. I came to Canada when I was 12 years old. I went through high school in Vancouver, studied Control Electronics at BCIT and finished my BASc degree at SFU.

What inspired you to follow your career?

In high school, there was an Industrial Education curriculum that I went through. It included woodwork, metal work and electronics courses. It was the electronics course that caught my attention. The teacher taught us how to build a few fun electronics/electrical projects. From that moment on, I decided to go into the field of electronics.

What do you love the most about your work? What are you proud of?

I love helping people to solve their problems. In the Science Technical Centre Electronics Shop, there is plenty of opportunity to do that. Various people come in with different problems or projects. I discuss with them and hopefully come up with a few possible solutions. By discussing with our 'clients', I get to know their problems and when I ask more detailed questions, they would realize there are other considerations. When I can help people to solve their problems, it creates this satisfying feeling that I really enjoy. This is what makes working here fun. There is always something new to learn.

Have you faced any barriers in your work?

We are pretty much a technical team in the Electronics Shop in the Faculty of Science. There is also the Machine Shop next door. We have two great teams and we help each other whenever possible. I don't see any barrier in terms of the working environment. However, in the technical area, we deal with a lot of very old equipment that will eventually break down. A lot of the times, electronics parts for these old equipments are obsolete and there is no replacement from the manufacturers. I will have to spend a lot of time on the internet to try to find suitable replacements. In some cases, we can come up with something that replaces certain parts. But in a lot of cases, we cannot fix it. Unfortunately, when this happens, the unit goes into surplus. If we know there are same machines on campus, and if it is not a very big unit, we will keep it for parts in case other units break down.

Are there any challenges for you as an Asian professional?

In all these years working here at SFU, I have not run into any problem as an Asian staff. Maybe I am fortunate enough that all my past and present colleagues are all very inclusive of different cultures.

What suggestions do you have for making the Faculty of Science a more inclusive space?

For the Faculty of Science to be a more inclusive space, I think events such as the Friday coffee gathering is important. It's a time when people of different cultures come and meet. I do see some people just take the coffee and go away. The majority will stay and mingle for a little while. More events such as this would definitely help.