Profile: Grant Liao – Lassonde Mineral Engineering student scholarship winner

Grant Liao (Year 3 MinE ) is a recipient of a Canadian Mineral Industry Education Foundation (CMIEF) scholarship. He is currently on his PEY Co-op and joined us for a talk from Fairbanks, Alaska while on a work trip. He talked with us about the award and his experience in the Lassonde Mineral Engineering program and beyond.

Grant Liao poses by a grizzly bear at a local restaurant, The Pump House, in Fairbanks, Alaska during his recent work trip. (Photo provided by Grant Liao)


Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you’re currently doing.
I’m Grant Liao, a Lassonde Mineral Engineering student currently on my Professional Experience Year. I work for Kinross Gold, based out of the Toronto office as an operations analyst. This is the first chance I’ve had to come to a site, which is exciting.

The beautiful view while driving for a work trip near Fairbanks, Alaska. (Photo provided by Grant Liao)

You’ve received a CMIEF scholarship. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself overall as a student and what it means to you to receive this scholarship?
I think the application process for this scholarship was pretty simple. I heard about it from a professor who recommended I apply. There were also several other students interning at the company who applied all at the same time.

I enjoy studying mining and whatever I apply myself to. I think that’s definitely something the reviewer looked at – academic excellence and extracurricular activities too. I think I was doing well in both those areas when I applied.

What first attracted you to the Lassonde Mineral Engineering program at U of T?
Professor John Harrison. He had a really good keynote speech in a Track One seminar when I was in first year. At the time, I wasn’t too attracted to the other disciplines. Factoring in the opportunity to travel, and being able to solve some complex problems within the mining business, made the program  very attractive.

You mentioned extracurriculars as part of your application for the scholarship. What extracurriculars have you been involved with at U of T?
At the time of my application I was part of Blue Sky Solar Racing, which is the solar car team at U of T, where we build a 100 per cent solar-powered car using student design and student manufacturing. I feel I gained a lot of experience in real-world problem solving, real engineering skills and working with a team.

Are you involved in anything else that’s not engineering related or do you have a hidden talent, or hobby, that we might not otherwise know about?
I don’t know if it’s necessarily hidden, but I like to play sports and exercise. Only a year before I applied for the scholarship I had run a half-marathon. That was basically the toughest thing I’ve had to do my life so.

The run was at Blue Mountain, near Collingwood, Ont. It was a tough trail run. It had just rained the day before, so they had to completely alter the race path as it was too dangerous and too muddy. It was still slippery and difficult. It’s good to have some activities outside of studying.

Grant Liao with Toronto night lights. (Photo provided by Grant Liao)

That sounds challenging, but it sounds like you’re adaptable and up for a challenge. Do you think your three years in the LME has prepared you for the real world and to work professionally in engineering?
Yes. I do find myself going back to some of the notes I took in second year. You take a couple of really useful courses – underground mining related to equipment selection and knowing about the mill. It really shows the difference in programs, since the other PEY at the company doesn’t have a mining background – they have more of a math and business background. Being able to just pick up those concepts really quickly, from having the background related to our courses, has been really beneficial for me.

You’re working for a Toronto-based company. Do you think being at U of T has helped you meet and network with professionals in mineral engineering because Toronto is considered the mining financial capital of the world? And we also have PDAC – will you attend PDAC this March?
I’ve been to PDAC and a couple of other events like why YMP & CIM events –  networking type events. You definitely do feel more connected professionally here in Toronto.

I think the LME student/alumni network is also super valuable. That’s how I was originally introduced to Kinross as a company – I had teamed up with somebody at the Mining Games who had previously interned at Kinross. He told me about his experience there and it was something that attracted me, so it’s kind of why I applied.

Thank you so much for making the time to chat while you’re travelling. We can’t wait to see your photos.

By Phill Snel


Grant recently returned from the 2023 Mining Games as a team member for U of T.

See the story here [LINK TO COME]




Lassonde Mineral Engineering students received
a message on the CivMin Hub January 30
encouraging applications to the
Canadian Mineral Industry Education Foundation (CMIEF) scholarship.

Links for PDF documents: