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Jumpstarting a career in sustainability with Industrial Ecology at UVic

April 18, 2023

by Ivan Watson

Born and raised in Ontario, Chiradeep Majumdar earned his degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Waterloo and began his career, like so many new Canadian engineering graduates, in Alberta’s booming oil and gas industry.

“I worked for about a decade in the industry where I witnessed first-hand the effects of climate change but really not the urgency to change,” he explains. “When the pandemic hit, I was looking for an opportunity to pivot my career away from fossil fuels into something a lot more sustainability focused.”

The timing was fortuitous as UVic had started recruiting for its brand new program—a one-year Master of Engineering in Industrial Ecology—aimed at students who want to develop sustainable solutions to societies’ greatest environmental challenges.

“Industrial Ecology was attractive as an option that could give me a broad range of opportunities to look at simultaneously,” says Majumdar. “The program really was the prefect fit to understand the whole spectrum of the field of sustainability.”

Moving to Vancouver Island, and to a university where a culture of sustainability flourishes, was also a huge bonus.

“I love the attitude of the people here and there is a great work-life balance, as well as the natural beauty of the island and year-round opportunities to spend time outdoors,” he says. “At some other schools there may be more of a competitive and combative dynamic, but here at UVic they foster innovation through collaboration and that’s very positive and refreshing.”

It is a culture that mirrors and reflects the values of the Industrial Ecology program itself.

“The Industrial Ecology program looks at the world, and human systems, in an interconnected, holistic way,” explains Chris Kennedy, Industrial Ecology Director. “Our approach offers a deeper understanding of the complexities of sustainable development, including the influences of economic, political and regulatory factors, so that graduates are well equipped with the skills they need to build systems that power a more sustainable world.”

The program more than met Majumdar’s academic and career expectations and helped him look at real-world problems in entirely new and exciting ways.

“One of the biggest advantages of the program was in changing the paradigm in terms of how you solve a problem,” he explains. “Instead of jumping to solutions, the key question becomes how do you look at a problem to begin with, and before implementing a solution, to understand and evaluate the cascading impacts. It’s a paradigm shift because it encourages people to look at systems and to approach innovation as a mindset that examines the big picture.”

Industrial ecology is an applied science, which provides knowledge and methods for addressing climate change, ecosystem degradation and other stresses on our planet. Students study energy and material use at various scales, from simple products and industries to cities and entire economies. 

After completing the Industrial Ecology program, Majumdar has remained at UVic where he is currently completing his PhD in Mechanical Engineering with a focus on using computing to evaluate and optimize energy transition pathways.

Looking ahead, he aims to develop a career that combines his personal values and expertise in sustainability and clean energy. He highly recommends the Industrial Ecology program as a unique and exciting way for people to achieve similar goals.

“I would say to anyone considering Industrial Ecology, that is it a great option,” he explains. “It’s not you typical degree because it will teach you to change how you think, along with important technical skills. We’ve been solving problems the same way for hundreds of years, so we need to challenge outdated ways of thinking and that’s how we are going to build a more sustainable world.”

Industrial Ecology is currently recruiting applicants for the 2023-2024 academic year, beginning in September 2023. Apply now at