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UBC Personal profile "Tell us about who you are" & "What is important you? and why?

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⇑ top

Good evening everyone.

In an application for a research assistant post, I am required "to state why I believe I am a suitable candidate for this post by explaining how I meet its requirements and the experience which I have that is relevant". I am also asked to "give examples of particular achievements". Some of the specifications for this post are the following: analytical skills; good computer literacy including GIS, LIDAR data processing, data-bases, spread sheets and statistical analysis; code development skills; ability to relate to other researchers, and students in an academic context; ability to interact successfully with others to learn and teach new skills; excellent written communication skills and the ability to write technical reports clearly and succinctly for publication; excellent presentation skills and work with professional and public; ability to organise and prioritise own work with minimal supervision; apply excellent project management and team-working skills; project a professional manner at meetings, conferences and seminars with authority and coherence.

Since they ask for "particular achievements", I tried to be specific, but I don't know if the letter is too long and boring and if the particular examples I tell about are coherent or not.

Here is my try:

"Since I first knew about this post, it immediately caught my attention: infrastructure, urban planning and hydraulic engineering are my main fields of interest and this job is directly related to all of these subjects. Besides, my academic background, my work experience and my skills fulfil the person specification for this post, so I think I am a suitable candidate for it.

As you can see in my application , I am a civil engineer and I have a master of science in civil engineering with emphasis in hydraulic resources. The undergrad program I did lasted five and a half years and, since it is quite long, I got to take a lot of courses, including many core engineering courses, as well as other complementary courses which could be useful for this specific post, for example: informatics and computer programming courses, oral and written expression, a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) course and also many management courses (e.g. accounting, finance, project preparation and evaluation, economics and management). This complete academic formation gave me a broad view of the possible activities that I could perform as a civil engineer and also prepared me to carry out all the different jobs I have had so far , which range from the planning and coordination of construction projects to teaching, including also two years as a research assistant.

Furthermore , in 2005, when I was still doing my undergrad, I earned a Rotary scholarship to attend Georgia State University (GSU) for one year. During the time I attended GSU, I took, amongst others, two GIS courses, a computer based information systems course and also one programming course (in C#); these courses helped me improve my skills with GIS in general (including GIS principles, data acquisition and processing tools, and the use of ArcGIS), with databases and other computer tools that are used to support information systems, and also my programming skills (including Object-Oriented Programming), which is something I have always liked. Besides, as a Rotary scholarship holder, I had the chance to interact with people with different cultural and academic backgrounds, to tell people about my country and my cultural background and to carry out social projects. For example, I formulated and coordinated a project to build a soy plant in a slum of Medellín (with Rotarian funding) in order to produce several soy products for needy kids of that area of the city. The experience as a Rotary scholarship holder helped me improve my social skills, made me a more flexible and adaptable person and also improved my ability to formulate and coordinate projects.

Subsequently, during my master I took several courses related to hydraulic and hydrologic modelling, so I became familiar with the modelling of different types of flow and hydrologic processes (e.g. open channel flow, surface flow, pressurized flow, rainfall, infiltration, evapotranspiration, runoff, etc.), with their interaction in the different natural and artificial hydrosystems (e.g. in integrated drainage systems, in wetlands connected by natural and/or artificial channels, in water treatment plants, etc.), and also with many computer programs used for such modelling (e.g. EpaSWMM, Epanet, ArcGis, HecHMS, amongst others, and I also created my own programs or tools for the modelling of special phenomena and hydrosystems where an interaction between different types of hydrologic processes and hydraulic conditions take place).

As you can see in my complete Curriculum Vitae and in the certificates attached to the application, I have performed greatly in all my studies: I graduated with honours from my undergrad and my masters and I have also earned some other distinctions; it demonstrates my responsibility, commitment and analytical skills.

Besides my academic background, throughout the jobs and activities I have performed, I have developed several skills which might be useful for this post. For example, while I was doing my undergrad (since I was 18) I worked as a particular teacher of math, physics, chemistry and statistics: in my spare time from university, I used to teach children and youngsters with learning disabilities (e.g. Attention Deficit Disorder, Hyperactivity) or who were not doing well at school or in their first years of college. More recently, I worked as a lecturer at the Escuela de Ingeniería de Antioquia (EIA): I was in charge of the "Water supply and sewage systems" course, which is part of the Civil Engineering undergraduate program. I enjoyed a lot teaching this course and I achieved a high mark in the teacher's evaluation carried out by the students at the end of the course. This experience as a teacher has helped me develop a great ability to interact with others, to communicate effectively and to teach new skills.

In my job as assistant engineering at the construction company Conconcreto S.A., I did a lot of field work and I learnt about project planning, coordination and control. Being in charge of the implementation of a new construction system (DurapanelTM), coordinating construction workers, negotiating with contractors and suppliers was very challenging for me, but I learnt to be more efficient, to prioritise my work and to deal with stressful situations, and I was finally able to take the project forward and learnt a lot from this experience.

During the two years I worked as a Research Assistant at the Water Distribution and Sewerage Systems Research Centre (CIACUA) of the Universidad de Los Andes, I carried out different activities and developed skills that are directly related to the skills required for the post. One of the tasks I carried out at this research centre was the coordination of a research project related to water distribution network (WDN) skeletonization and water quality modeling in skeletonized models; this included coordination of the researchers' work, revision and analysis of the results, testing of the software developed for the hydraulic and water quality modeling, paper writing, amongst other responsibilities. The results achieved in this project were very interesting and useful and were presented in different international conferences (e.g. at the WDSA 2008 and at the CCWI 2009). As a Research Assistant, I also worked in the optimization of the design, enlargement and rehabilitation of WDNs. In this research project I was in charge of software development, hydraulic modeling, bibliographical research, paper writing, etc. From this research project, an innovative rehabilitation methodology was developed and a paper about it (written by me) was recently published in the Urban Water Journal (it is now on the ifirst version). Also, with the implementation of new optimization techniques, I achieved two new records in the optimum design of two known benchmark problems: the Two-Loop and the Balerma WDNs. These results will be first presented in the next EWRI -World Environmental and Water Resources- conference (a paper was already accepted for presentation at this congress). Lastly, while I worked at CIACUA I also coordinated and participated in the elaboration of project proposals for public and private institutions and I worked in some of the projects derived from these proposals. One of the main proposals I coordinated was the one for the development of the new legislation for the potable water and basic sanitation sector of Colombia; it was a public bidding process and we managed to get the contract and developed the new legislation (this project was directed by the Ministry of Environment, Housing and Land Development of Colombia, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme). During the elaboration of these proposals and the negotiations with the different institutions, I attended meetings, answered questions, presented results, etc. My boss at CIACUA was Juan Saldarriaga, which is one of the referees I listed above. He was very pleased with my job at this research centre and he could give you any additional information you might need about my performance there.

In my last job -at the Direction of Civil Engineering of the EIA-, I developed an excellent relationship with my work colleges as well as with the students, I represented the University in different events and I always projected a professional manner, and I had the chance to improve my skills for coordinating research projects, courses and undergraduate works.

As you can see, I have worked in many different areas, but the experience I have gained in each of the works I have performed is unique and I am sure it could be very useful for this post . Furthermore, the fact that I have developed different jobs demonstrates that I am an easily adaptable person and that I am also a fast learner and this is exactly the feature which best describes me and is also the best tool I have to carry out new and challenging activities.

For the reasons stated above, I think I am a suitable candidate for this post. For me, working on the flooding forecasting project directed by Professor Cedo Maksimovic would be a pleasure and also a very interesting challenge and, if I were given the opportunity to work on it, you can be sure that I would give my best to fulfil and exceed your expectations and to take the project forward.
"

I would greatly appreciate any suggestions to improve my cover letter.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Sincerely,

Susana

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