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Meet McMaster Engineering valedictorian Matthew FergusonJune 6, 2019

Matthew Ferguson shares how he accidentally became an engineer, what motivates him, the thing most people don't know about him and more.

1. Name:

Matthew Ferguson

2. Hometown:

Whitby, ON

3. Program:

Chemical Engineering and Society

4. What made you choose to pursue your engineering degree at McMaster?

Engineering was kind of a last minute/accident for me. I decided very later on in high school. It was actually a chemistry teacher in high school that talked to me about the versatility and opportunities of a chemical engineer. I couldn’t find an interest anywhere else, but it sounded like it applied to me — being able to create something that you spawn in your own head.

5. What do you want to do next?

Ideally, I want to start working. I’ve gotten my travel out of the way but I want to move into any entry-level job and see where that goes. And if graduate studies is something in my future, then I have no problem going back and doing that if my career requires it.

Matthew Ferguson.

6. What advice would you give your first-year self?

Don’t freak out when you see your first midterm grades. They’ll get better. You’ll get a handle on things. You’ll become more organized. Don’t be so hard on yourself. If you really want it, then you’ll get it.

7. Do you have any other kind of advice that you would give current or future students?

The advice I would give to current students is don’t feel [pressured] to figure out what you want to do right away. Even at the end of your degree, if you can’t figure it out, that’s totally fine. You’re not meant to rush yourself and jump into the first opportunity that you see. You shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket. Try your best as you are right now in terms of your academics, but really try your best to enjoy your time here.

8. How has McMaster shaped the person you are today?

McMaster has done a lot for me in terms of shaping who I am. I’ve become more self-aware of my own actions, behaviours and personality as well as other people’s. I’ve had a lot of opportunities to meet a variety of different people, learning where they’re coming from and what their aspirations are.

9. What events did you enjoy the most at McMaster or in Hamilton?

Welcome Week is near and dear to my heart. The first day I came here, I knew that it was my home. Apart from school, the events in Hamilton like Supercrawl and Artcrawl and even 101 day. Just showcasing the city’s culture like that is something I didn’t think I would get with my university experience. I’m really grateful that I got to experience those events because those really show me what this city is capable of. 

10. How has McMaster helped you create a brighter world?

The way McMaster has made me create a brighter world is just in the way that it accepted me and all the other people that come here. They’ve [McMaster] created us – this graduating class is a class of world-changers. It’s not just engineers and the Engineering faculty, but all faculties. We are creating the next innovators, world-changers, activists, doctors, lawyers... It’s not just me creating a brighter world. It’s this whole school and the whole graduating class of 2019.

Matthew Ferguson.

11. What’s something that most people don’t know about you?

A lot of people don’t know I was actually in a metal band in high school as a drummer. We had no idea it was going to go anywhere. Next thing you know, we were playing shows in Toronto and we made a small EP album. Even though the band is not together anymore, I’m so happy it happened.

12. What motivates you?

What motivates me is probably the consistent drive to better myself and also to see people better themselves as well. And if I can put in my two cents or maybe influence someone so that they can reflect on themselves and maybe become more self-aware then my job is done.

13. Who is your favourite professor at McMaster and why?

Just based on the amount of support, shared words and words of encouragement from him, probably Professor Jake Nease from the Chemical Engineering. He’s just a very cool guy - very aware of when students may not be performing up to par, but he’s never the type to shame. He cares about the students’ well-being. He’s won a couple of awards from the students because we love him so much.

*Ferguson then listed off nearly every faculty member in the Department of Chemical Engineering

14. What book are you currently reading?

I’m actually in the middle of reading Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer. A friend of mine gave me the book because I watched the movie first and apparently the book was a lot better than the movie.

15. What will you miss most about being a Mac Eng student?

As cliché as it sounds, the people for sure. It’s not just me or the schooling or the academics that has shaped me. It’s been the people and the experiences with the people.

16. Any thoughts on importance of giving back to your alma matter to support future generations?

I would say its an important thing to at least consider. Obviously it depends on your personal situation and whether or not you can. But if you had the opportunity, why not?