Convocation ‘22: Jessica Van Os, BSc Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Specialization (Co-op)

Donna McKinnon - 06 June 2022

Building community within and beyond the classroom

Throughout her undergraduate program in mechanical engineering, Jessica Van Os took on many roles, not only academically but also as a mentor, community builder and STEM education advocate.

She supported student success in numerous ways, including as a volunteer with the Fem+ Engineering Mentorship Program for three years (2019-2022) where she mentored two high school students per year from equity deserving gender groups to help them explore all the possibilities in engineering and answer questions about the transition from high school to university.

This last year, Jessica also worked part time as an instructor for the Edmonton-based company Young Engineers, teaching hands-on STEM lessons through lego building.

Academically, Jessica took on several roles, including research assistant in dental biomechanics and instructor with the Faculty of Engineering DiscoverE program and director of human resources for the Engineering Students’ Society. An avid hockey player, Jessica received the Alberta Junior Athletic Award in 2021.

This fall, she will begin a masters program in mechanical engineering, doing research centred on energy (specifically the Alberta electricity grid) and the environment.

Congratulations Jessica!

What led you to pick the U of A?

Edmonton has always been my hometown, so it was close to home. Additionally, the U of A has a very good engineering program with the opportunity to take part in the co-op program.

What is one of your favourite memories from your time at the U of A?
I have a few! Week of Welcome was always a lot of fun in my first few years and the Engineering Students’ Society GEER Week. In general, it was a good atmosphere and I enjoyed the opportunity to learn and study with a lot of amazing people.

Did you take on any leadership roles while you were a student?
I volunteered with the Engineering Students’ Society for one year during my degree and have also been a part of the FEM+ Engineering Mentorship Program based out of the engineering faculty for the past three years.

Did you face any significant obstacles or challenges during your program?
Engineering is a difficult but rewarding program and I don't think a semester went by where I did not feel challenged. Aside from the class material itself, the past couple years have brought a lot of their own obstacles with a global pandemic and personal challenges. I was able to get through these tough times by keeping my goals in mind and pushing myself to work hard in the face of adversity. I also cannot overstate the support I received from my friends, girlfriend, and family who reminded me to take breaks and held me up when I was struggling.

What advice do you have for current and future students?
Stay authentic to yourself and take things one step at a time. Work hard, but remember to keep things in perspective and look after yourself first.

How do you plan on celebrating convocation?
Spending time with friends I have met over the past five years.

What's next after graduation?
I will be continuing into graduate studies in mechanical engineering at the U of A, where my work will likely focus on modeling a decarbonized electricity grid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and work towards net zero.