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Inspirational Women in STEM: Annelies Tjebbes

Annelies Tjebbes

Biomedical Engineer

Where are you from and where do you work now?
“I was born and raised in Vancouver and have lived most of my life there. A true Westcoast Woman! I moved to Victoria in 2012 after graduating from UBC in Biomedical Electrical Engineering for an employment opportunity with StarFish Medical as a Biomedical Engineer.”

Why did you choose to work in this field?
“I have always had an interest in and passion for medicine. I decided before going to university, however, that I also wanted to put my intrigue and skills in working with technology to use in my career. I therefore enrolled in engineering and found myself a perfect niche in Biomedical Engineering because of my ability to combine my passion for medicine, and my passion for technology and problem solving.”

What is your favourite thing about your job?
“I really love being able to contribute to life-saving and life-improving technologies. There is so much power in technology, and being able to use technology in a really positive way is something I really love. I also really love the problem solving element of it – this type of work definitely keeps your brain very active!”

What are some of the challenges in your job?
“One challenge with working at a consulting company is that we don’t often get to be connected directly with the users. I think it would be ideal to be able to interact with the future users of the technologies we are developing throughout the process, but we often leave this to the clients we are working with because they are the most connected with the users.”

What do you like to do in your spare time?
“I volunteer extensively with Engineers Without Borders Canada and I currently sit on the Board of Directors for the organisation. I also love to stay active – I play soccer, ride my bike, love to hike and explore Vancouver Island and the West Coast!”

Is there anything you wish someone had told you when you were in high school?
“Deciding what you are going to do with the rest of your life while you are in high school seems pretty daunting, and that’s because it is an unreasonable task at that time. Just take things one step at a time. Decide on what you are most intrigued by right now and pursue that in university or otherwise. If that interest changes, then you are more than free to change your path, and I encourage you to do so. The most important thing to do in your years following high school is to get to know yourself and what makes you tick. Do some travelling, put yourself out of your comfort zone, be courageous to try new things. These are some very formative years and I encourage you to embrace them and go out and explore!”

In a nutshell, why are engineering and science AWESOME?
“These fields are awesome because there is so much positive change we can create in the world through technological development and scientific discoveries. Engineers and scientists have the possibility of ending extreme poverty, of discovering life-saving cures, and of conserving our natural environment. There is a lot of power in these fields and it is important that we put our smarts to good use in making positive change in the world.”

Tell us a joke.
“A young boy enters a barber shop and the barber whispers to his customer, “This is the dumbest kid in the world. Watch while I prove it to you.” The barber puts a dollar bill in one hand and two quarters in the other, then calls the boy over and asks, “Which do you want, son?” The boy takes the quarters and leaves. “What did I tell you?” said the barber. “That kid never learns!” Later, when the customer leaves, he sees the same young boy coming out of the ice cream store. “Hey, son! May I ask you a question? Why did you take the quarters instead of the dollar bill?” The boy licked his cone and replied, “Because the day I take the dollar, the game is over!””



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