Alumni Giving back to Skule™ – John Starkey and Julia Maloney

Investing in the future by reviving the past: John Starkey gives back to survey camp

Since 1921, survey camp has been an unforgettable experience for University of Toronto engineering students. Looking back over 50 years, John Starkey (MinE 6T1) recalls the important role survey camp played in his career as a mining engineer. To ensure students continue to benefit from this unique experience, Starkey sits on the Gull Lake Committee and recently won an Arbor Award for his contributions.

20160427_121401a As a practicing engineer designing grinding mills for the mining industry, Starkey observed a disconnect between simulation-based learning for design and the reality of engineering. What he values most about survey camp is its practicality, which is one reason why he volunteers as a guest lecturer, teaching students about his work designing grinding mills and mineral ore processing plants.

“I’ve been fortunate to identify a field where I believe there is a real need for new thought, new methods, new ways of serving the industry with engineering advice that is accurate, timely and important, so that’s what I focused on,” explains Starkey.

As a committee member, Starkey is ensuring survey camp remains an integral part of the civil and mineral engineering curriculum. There’s also a sentimental factor: he met his wife, who waitressed at The Red Umbrella Inn, while at camp. It is just one of the many relationships and bonds formed at survey camp for untold numbers of engineering students.

“I find it stimulating to go back and revisit places and ideas and to get involved with younger people,” admits Starkey. “Now we’re looking for ways to sustain both the property and the experience that U of T students have at camp.”

Aside from lecturing, Starkey’s favourite part about giving back is the opportunity to work with faculty and students in preparing for the future.

“Why would we not go back and do everything we can to ensure that students have a rich, well-rounded experience in life and in engineering?”

A shared experience: Julia Maloney on giving back

After graduating in 2008, reaching out to students was a natural inclination for civil engineering alumna, and former concrete toboggan captain, Julia Maloney (CivE 0T8). Maloney has sought out opportunities to impart her knowledge and experiences to students to help them become better candidates as they enter the work force.

maloney“Attending job fairs, mentoring sessions and networking events is something I look forward to, especially since I found the more I did it, the more I learned and was able to give insight,” said Maloney.

Throughout her time at U of T, Maloney had a number of faculty, friends and staff to support and guide her along the way. Her positive experiences as a student are what inspires her to stay involved as an alumna.

“I didn’t know what my future would look like after I graduated,” said Maloney. “So I do my best to show students what their future could look like and give them an idea of different paths they might take. Students will be much more prepared after they graduate if alumni can make time for such a small commitment.”

Maloney sees networking and career development opportunities as an enjoyable way to give back. To maintain a relationship with students, she plans to use Civ/Min Connect as a platform to interact when she’s unable to attend events.

“It’s so easy and I have fun doing it,” explains Maloney. “They’re intelligent young people who want to talk to you because they all want to learn something. They’re going to these events to better themselves and you can really tell.”

To connect with Julia and to learn about opportunities to give back, visit