Meet your first-year profs: Dr Peter Ostafichuk

How online learning provides new opportunities for students

Meet your first-year profs: Dr Peter Ostafichuk
CategoryFaculty
NameDr Peter Ostafichuk
ProgramEngineering (Faculty of Applied Science)

Dr Peter Ostafichuk – or just “Dr Pete” to the Engineering community – says his favourite part of his job is shaping his students’ university experience.

As well as teaching two introductory courses to first-year students, his research allows him to collaborate with world-leading companies on sports aerodynamics, designing better soccer balls, bikes, and apparel. Now working on his third book, Dr Pete is researching how to deliver high-quality education while minimizing costs for students. Alongside all of your UBC profs, he’s excited to take his instruction online, and is ready to teach the new skills such as digital communication and collaborative virtual design that you’ll learn during your first term.

 

Which classes do you teach to first-year students?

I teach two Introduction to Engineering courses. Engineering is one of very few disciplines where students enter a professional university program right out of high school. A big focus of what we do in the courses is to help students understand what engineering is actually all about, how engineers think and behave, and to get students ready for their chosen specialization in second year and beyond. This goes well beyond just understanding content or passing exams.

 

What does online learning look like for your classes?

The first-year courses I teach were created about five years ago. We created these courses in what’s called a flipped-classroom model, which means that the content was already being delivered online through carefully prepared videos, and the class time is used mainly for discussion and applying the content. To teach online is a small step for us, as all of the content is ready and we are only shifting in-person discussion and activity from the physical classroom to online discussion and activity.

We were also already using online quizzes, polls, and other tools in our physical classes, and that will continue in the online classes.

 

 

 

What can students can expect from online teaching?

I am a strong believer that classes need to engage students and offer something more than can be captured by a video recording. This doesn’t change for me whether the class is in person or online. In my classes, you can expect to work in teams and to engage in discussions with your teammates. You can expect that all teams will have an opportunity to share their perspectives and to contribute to the class discussion.

 

I just feel so fortunate for the opportunities I’ve been given at UBC, and I try each day to use those opportunities to make a positive impact.

 

Why do you think students should still pursue a UBC education even if their first term is online?

The world we live in has clearly changed, and I suspect that although things will eventually return to something close to where they were before, I also think a lot of the adaptations we have made will stick with us. There are a lot of conveniences and advantages that come from learning and working online. There are a host of skills, including remote learning, online teamwork, digital communication, collaborative virtual design, and more that are going to be so much more in demand in the coming years. These skills come with practice, and I think an online education gives a great opportunity to develop them.

 

Because most fall semester classes will be digital, students may be feeling worried about their first term. What would you say to them?

I can fully understand students being anxious about beginning their university experience online. At the same time, having fall classes online actually creates a smoother transition in many ways; students can become familiar with their programs and courses, with their classmates and professors, with the academic expectations of university, and so on. And they can do that all from familiar surroundings. The thrill of exploring a new campus, and potentially a new city, province, or country will still come, and, when the time arrives, I don’t know that the excitement will be in any way diminished due to a fall term online.

 

 

Latest Stories

Previous
Baljit Badhan

Empowering organizational change

How UBC Okanagan's Management degree helped three students find their path

Empowering organizational change

"The Management program has taught me to consider diverse perspectives and be open-minded." - Baljit Badhan, BMgt
Helene Omdal UCB Story visiting student

More than a visitor

How visiting student Helene became part of the UBC community
student

More than a visitor

"I chose to go to UBC in Vancouver because of its renowned academic reputation, and good location for skiing and other activities." - Helene Omdal
Dr Susan Holtzman UBC Story

Meet your first-year profs: Dr Susan Holtzman

How live interactive sessions will support you in your first term
faculty

Meet your first-year profs: Dr Susan Holtzman

"I’ll be walking you through the course material with lots of examples, video clips, and personal stories." - Dr Susan Holtzman
UBC Student Story Curtis Huang

Treading a new path

Curtis’s experiences as the first in his family to go to university
student

Treading a new path

"My parents immigrated to Canada with the purpose of giving me and my sister opportunities they never had." - Curtis Huang, BCom
Andrew Darcovich UBC Story

Culture, community, and curriculum

UBC graduate Andrew gives his best advice to new first-year students
alumni

Culture, community, and curriculum

"It is scary to start: moving away, meeting new people, creating and owning a schedule, and more. Don’t feel like you are alone – everyone feels the same" - Andrew Darcovich, BComm
Dr Jonathan Otto UBC Story

Meet your first-year profs: Dr Jonathan Otto

How UBC teachers will build community during your online learning
faculty

Meet your first-year profs: Dr Jonathan Otto

"I recognize and appreciate the challenges you will face as you kick off your time at UBC in a manner that is certainly unprecedented." - Dr Jonathan Otto
Indigenous Destination UBC Story

Choosing the right place to study

How one student made her first friends through Indigenous Destination UBC
student

Choosing the right place to study

“I was excited that this university is so welcoming to Indigenous peoples, and that it has accepted me.” - Cecilia Raweater
Crag D'Costa UBC Story

Searching for new challenges

Why Craig chose to study in a new country
student

Searching for new challenges

"I strongly believed that North America was full of opportunity and the place to be, so I applied." - Craig D'Costa, Mechanical Engineering
next