Allison Matfin wins UBC engineering award

Locally raised scholar focuses on water resources protection

  • Nov. 17, 2016 11:00 a.m.

Alli Matfin

South Cariboo-raised Allison (Alli) Matfin graduated this year with her bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering from the University of British Columbia (UBC) and received some awards for her outstanding marks.

UBC’s Applied Science Rising Stars was awarded to Alli after the faculty nominated her among about a dozen others within the department.

Basically, you are nominated for looking like you are someone who is going to go on to make a difference in the world … who has really stood out or done really well in their degree.”

Like the other nominees, Alli was interviewed by the judges who then wrote a small piece describing her. This is posted online at https://apsc.ubc.ca/spotlight/allison-matfin (where you can also search more about Alli’s 2015 team award.)

That was really nice. It says I worked pretty hard on my degree and I’ve done lots of other stuff, so it was nice to have that recognized.”

The Association of Professional Engineers and Geo-scientists of B.C., the governing body for her field in the province, also honoured her with an award that only one graduate wins each year in each area of applied science, she adds.

Alli notes her award was for her study work in the Environmental Engineering category.

Currently working in water and wastewater treatment and water resource engineering at a consulting firm based in Burnaby, Alli says she would like to continue working in this field along with drought prevention and flood protection planning, and climate change adaptation.

She explains this fascinating field will allow her to work on the growing and interesting opportunities for ensuring clean water for future generations.

I find it really exciting and really rewarding, and it’s really interesting now that there is a lot of focus on water planning for the future.”

As more people realize the impacts of climate change, she adds they become more aware of the limited water resources they will face down the road.

108 Mile Ranch resident Barb Matfin, Alli’s mother, is clearly very proud of her daughter.

Alli’s degree says ‘with distinction’ because she got straight As. It’s amazing – she hadn’t got anything less than an A- her entire time at university.”

(Alli clarifies there is also a grade point average involved.)

The environmental engineering student visited the South Cariboo this spring to check out the watershed for the Horse LakeCommunity Farm Co-operative, Barb notes.

She explains that Alli, and area biologist Ken Mackenzie, are the co-op’s “volunteer experts” who check out the reliability of the farm’s water sources.

Alli adds she also wrote her recommendations – including action items for herself and other co-op members – for improving water management and water security for the farm, in light of climate change and some past, late-summer water shortages for irrigation.

So, why did the former Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School grad decide to pursue engineering?

I really like sciences – chemistry and physics – and math, and I like problem-solving, so I thought engineering would be a good fit.

And then, I was really interested in environmental awareness and protecting the planet and preserving ecological integrity.”

Alli notes that, like any high-school graduate, back then she was unsure if it would be the right choice of a field to study.

But, I really loved it and it suited me perfectly because it’s a nice focus on the scientific side … but not just research necessarily. You are also really applied, so you’re looking at things that you are actually building or that might actually happen in real life.

I’m really passionate about watershed planning and management.”

As a career, Alli says she wants to work on determining ways to manage our water resources, other resources in general and, potentially, water recovery/reuse without damaging the environment – while also maintaining our quality of life.

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