UBC Civil Engineering professor brings innovative teaching

The Department of Civil Engineering is pleased to welcome Dr. Tamara Etmannski as Assistant Professor of Teaching within the environmental engineering specialization.

As the Academic Director of the Master of Engineering Leadership (MEL) degree programs and Co-Director of the Joint UBC/UNBC Environmental Engineering undergraduate degree, Dr. Etmannski is a familiar name in the Faculty of Applied Science and has come to be known for her unique and innovative approach to teaching.

Believing that the role of the instructor is not simply to be a giver of knowledge, but rather a facilitator for the student, Dr. Etmannski is an advocate for experimentation in the classroom. She encourages exploring complex questions in dynamic scenarios, which in turn, gives space to students to challenge long-held ideas.

In the past, Dr. Etmannski has transformed her lecture hall into a debate stage, a game show, a governmental town hall, and a dragon’s den.

Her time at UBC Civil will be no different. Already she has made CIVL 302 (“Civil Engineering Impacts”) into a game where the entire class participates in a 13-week long simulation.

“I believe the most powerful teaching strategy is one that transforms students from passive recipients into active creators of their own knowledge and ideas,” she said. “Doing things themselves and problem-solving along the way allow students the freedom to make their own discoveries.”

Dr. Etmannski comes to UBC Civil Engineering with a diverse background in both academia and industry.

She joined UBC in 2014 after completing her PhD in environmental engineering at the University of Oxford. She also holds bachelor’s degrees in international relations, economics, and applied and environmental geology from the University of Calgary.

Dr. Etmannski has a strong connection to the oil and gas industry in Canada. She is also an entrepreneur, having provided independent technical consulting and founded three tech start-ups.

Department Chair Dr. Bernard Laval is excited to have Dr. Etmannski onboard.

“Dr. Etmannski will bring her rich background in sustainability, leadership, and entrepreneurship to the classroom and contribute to our standing as a world-renowned Civil Engineering department,” said Dr. Laval. “I especially look forward to her innovative methods and career-driven approach, which will help students reach their full potential.”

Indeed, Dr. Etmannski hopes to leverage her unique background and work closely with her colleagues on cultivating the next generation of engineers and leaders.

“I am especially thrilled to collaborate with this community of scholars on ways to embed sustainability, leadership and impacts into the required courses across the civil engineering undergraduate program.” she said.

“With all the challenges we collectively and individually face related to COVID-19, my advice to students is to keep looking forward and to continue to chip away at things. Don’t lose your momentum; keep pushing forward—even if it’s baby steps,” Dr. Etmannski added.

Learn more about Dr. Tamara Etmannski on her faculty profile.