It’s not every day international students get the chance to learn from globally-recognized researchers. That’s the case with Dr. Salman Soleimani-Dashtaki, a postdoctoral fellow in UBC’s Department of Civil Engineering (Faculty of Applied Science), world-renowned for outstanding research in environmental systems and infrastructure, and ranked first among Canada’s civil engineering schools. UBC Civil Engineering collaborates with various industries and communities to create positive impacts on society.

A VSP course teacher since 2015, Dr. Soleimani-Dashtaki earned his BASc and PhD in Civil Engineering at UBC, conducting research on the development of practical seismic retrofit strategies for low-rise masonry structures during his doctoral studies. His current focus includes structural health monitoring, structural restoration and retrofit, construction materials and technology, and damage evaluation using vibration-based techniques. Additionally, Dr. Soleimani-Dashtaki teaches a number of civil engineering courses, such as plane surveying, construction materials and infrastructure rehabilitation. Says Dr. Soleimani-Dashtaki:

“I never expected such a great engagement by the VSP students. Being involved with the Vancouver Summer Program since 2015, I could have never imagined the level of connection that students could make with each other, the instructors, the VSP staff, and with the UBC community in general.”

What can VSP students expect from a VSP Civil Engineering course package?

Taking two academic courses, they conduct experimental research, get involved with data analysis and reporting, present their work in a formal setting and build on their language capabilities in an academic environment. At the same time, they get involved in many different social and sport activities, fun nights out, see industrial sites, visit cultural and historical places, and enjoy a full day barbequing on the beach during their time here.

What do students gain from your courses?

These are proper “UBC Academic Calendar” type courses. Students receive completion certificates at the end, and some former VSP students have been able to get transfer credits or student exchange credits from their home institutions. The short, but sweet hands-on experimental study gives them great exposure to our lab environment and the opportunity to be a part of an ongoing research project at UBC. Many of our past VSP students have joined our research team as an international student after completion of their bachelor’s degree. We have also had talented students who have been able to demonstrate their research capabilities in such a short period of time, and build strong relationships with their VSP lab research mentors, that they have gotten strong reference letters to use when applying to different top schools around the world for continuing their education.

What is one thing that you’ve learned from VSP?

We can do a lot in a short period of time if we plan well. VSP students have a tight, but fruitful schedule. The amount of work and the number of activities within the program is just amazing, but can only be achieved with proper planning and enthusiastic students.

What do you love about UBC?

Being a part of the UBC family for more than 14 years, “pride” is the word that best describes my feelings. Being a UBC community member, an alumnus or a visiting student is a rewarding experience that you can always be proud of. The sense of belonging to our beautiful campus, in such a serene environment, being surrounded by such a culturally diverse group of people is just an amazing, unforgettable experience.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I believe that one should work hard, but play even harder. My passion lies in outdoor activities – and Beautiful British Columbia is the best place to be. I spend a good portion of my time out in nature, exploring the pristine backcountry, hiking, camping, fishing, skiing and boating.

Learn more about UBC Civil Engineering and VSP Civil Engineering packages.