This year’s CEMF Vale Undergraduate Scholarship was awarded to two outstanding women, one of whom is Heidi Manicke! This scholarship is awarded to Canadian female undergraduates who are aspiring to pursue careers in the mining industry while being deeply involved in the engineering community.
Though the competition was tough this year, Heidi stood out due to her outstanding endeavors in the engineering community including being a mentor, leader, volunteer, ambassador and positive role model.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Heidi, who just completed her third-year at UBC for geological engineering. Apart from engineering, Heidi is an avid cyclist, involved in her local community, and a passionate traveler.
If you’re aspiring to become an engineer, Heidi’s story is full of helpful tips and inspiration!
What or who influenced you to study engineering?
I really like solving problems and finding new ways to do things, so engineering seemed like a natural path to follow. Even when I was little, I would take apart old, broken appliances to figure out how they worked. A past employer even gave me the nickname ‘MacGyver’ because of my unique problem solving skills!
How do you balance completing your undergraduate studies, extra-curricular involvement in engineering, and personal life?
I enjoy being busy – I hardly know what to do with myself otherwise! However, it can be difficult to balance everything, so it’s essential for me to set priorities and evaluate what is important in my life. I always put school first, and try to take a few hours each week to give back to my community. I am also careful to make sure I have enough time to get all my cycling training in, especially ramping up to race season in the spring and summer. Time on the bike also counts for most of my social and personal time – it’s what I love to do, and it’s great that it is something I can do with friends!
Where did you find the information you needed to decide that the engineering route was the right choice?
I honestly had no idea what engineering was until I was in my second year of a Bachelor of Arts degree at Queen’s University. Queen’s has such a great community, and the engineering students are amazing! At the time, I was heavily involved in the Queen’s Climbing Club, and a lot of the other members were engineering students. After many conversations about engineering and listening to their stories, and sneaking into a few engineering lectures, I knew it was the path for me.
What are your plans after completing your BASc?
I plan to work for a few years before returning to university to pursue a graduate degree.
Currently you’re working with Norwest Corporation as a Geo-technical co-op student: what are some of your key responsibilities? What do you think you’ll be able to take back to your studies?
I worked for Norwest last summer as well, and they are really wonderful to their co-op students. I’ve spent a great deal of my time with the instrument monitoring team, but have also had the opportunity to assist with design. It’s a really great way to apply what I have learned in school to the ‘real-world’, and at the same time, when I am in school I understand the real-life applications of what I am learning.
You spent two years studying abroad; what was it like? What were some of the main things you were able to take away from the experience?
The two years that I spent abroad were amazing – it was during those years where I really came out of my shell and grew as a person. I discovered what I am capable of and what is important to me. I also had to learn to be very self-reliant, which really improved my confidence.
You’re currently a member of Engineers Without Borders Canada. What are some of your favourite things about being a part of this program? Why do you think it’s important for engineering students to be involved in programs like this?
EWB is an amazing organization with great people that do remarkable things. All of the exec of the UBC chapter that I worked with are absolutely inspirational, and will do incredible things for the world. I think it is important for us to really think about the “bigger picture” and EWB is an organization that really promotes social responsibility and global thinking, such as: “How are the repercussions of my actions in Canada felt around the world?”
Being part of EWB has helped me view the world differently, and has inspired me to do what I can to promote global equality and to help people around the world reach their potential.
What did being one of two in all of Canada to receive the Vale CEMF undergraduate scholarships mean to you?
I feel incredibly honoured and humbled to have been chosen from all of Canada. It’s really fantastic that Vale goes beyond recognizing only academic accomplishment, but also places value on leadership, volunteerism and other accomplishments as well.
If you could give one piece of advice to girls/women aspiring to become engineers, what would it be?
Believe in yourself. When I was younger, I was told that I wasn’t good at math and science, and for a while, I believed it. I now believe that if you are passionate about something and pursue it with all the passion you can muster, then you will see results.