Posts Tagged: student life

Amid a pandemic, U of T Engineering Design Team pushes ahead on energy retrofit project

Northern Light Solutions team at their energy audit at Orde Street Public School.

One lesson this pandemic brought to light is that a reduced carbon footprint can have a measurable impact on the environment. Students from the Department of Civil & Mineral Engineering knew that to be the case when they began work on an energy retrofit project for a local school.

Northern Lights Solutions (NLS) is a student design team in the Canadian/National Electrical Contractors Association University of Toronto Student Chapter (CECA/NECA U of T). Each year, the team takes part in the ELECTRI International Green Energy Challenge (GEC). They partner up with a local community service organization, to propose retrofits and implement an energy awareness campaign that helps the facility to reduce its overall energy consumption.

“This competition is a great chance for us students to learn about sustainable building designs and give back to our local community,” said Noah Cassidy (CivE Year 4), President of CECA/NECA U of T. “I love building on our past success with enthusiastic students and initiatives to enhance the competition experience.”

NLS tours of a real solar panel system on campus.

Before the 2020 GEC began, the CECA/NECA U of T Executive Team improved their recruiting efforts with a series of workshops focused on each sub team in the competition. These workshops ranged from interactive activities to tours of a real solar panel system on campus (pictured on the right).

“The executive team took a different approach to marketing our club early on this school year,” said Pavani Perera (CivE Year 4), Student Outreach Coordinator of CECA/NECA U of T. “These workshops let us engage with new students by giving them the chance to find out which sub-teams align with their interests and skills. From there, we ended up with a diverse, committed team to tackle GEC”.

With new recruiting initiatives, NLS continues to grow with students from various STEM programs passionate about green energy, community involvement, and leadership development. The 2020 GEC team leads include: Rose Zhang (CivE Year 2) (Co-Project Manager); Adrian Sin (CivE Year 3) (Co-Project Manager); Mahia Anhara (CivE Year 3) (Project Management); Bo Zhao (CivE Year 1) (Building Energy Performance); Ziyi Wang (CivE Year 2) (Lighting), Keziah Nongo (CivE Year 2) (Solar), and Kin Hey Chan (CivE Year 1) (Community Engagement).

This year, NLS is working with Orde Street Junior Public School, located right by the U of T campus in downtown Toronto. In February, the team conducted an energy audit at the school to figure out energy usage with electricity, building enclosures, mechanical systems, and lighting.

Since then, each sub team was hard at work developing retrofits that could realistically be implemented to improve the facility’s energy performance as well as generate energy on-site. The main goal is to find cost-effective ways to achieve net-zero energy, in which the facility generates as much or more energy as it uses. Some retrofits the team focused on include efficient boilers, light shelves, and a roof-mounted solar photovoltaic system connected to the grid.

The unique challenge this year was the outreach portion of the project. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the team could not carry out their energy awareness campaign in person at the school; instead, they took a more creative approach with virtual learning. NLS created a series of remote lesson plans for both elementary and intermediate level students at the school.

“Our team has put together lesson plans, videos, blog posts, and an online game with the themes of energy, building materials, and how the indoor environment impacts human wellbeing,” said Chan. “It’s been fun for us to create and we hope the students learn to do their part for the environment right from home. We really appreciate the support from the school staff and parents in delivering this material”.

NLS wrapped up their proposal for the June 1st GEC deadline. They are determined to top their second place finish last year for their work at Armour Heights Presbyterian Church in North York. Back in September 2019, they got the exciting opportunity to present that project and be recognized at the NECA Convention in Las Vegas. This year, if selected as a top team, NLS will get to present their proposal in Chicago!

“We’d like to thank Professor Brenda McCabe (our faculty advisor), the Department of Civil & Mineral Engineering, and our industry connections at CECA for the amazing support and resources they provide us with each year. We plan to continue working hard to help our local communities!” said Cassidy.

Take a look inside the new bunkhouse and common room at Survey Camp

Rendering of the HCAT Bunkhouse and MacGillivray Common Room (Credit: V+A Architects)

Survey Camp at Gull Lake is celebrating its centennial and getting a new bunkhouse. Nearly a century after the first group of University of Toronto Engineering students used the site, located on the north shore of Gull Lake near Minden, Ont., a modern and flexible-use building has been planned.

Purchased in 1919, the first cohort of U of T students took classes on the site in 1920, with the current 2019 class becoming the 100th consecutive year to attend Survey Camp – now known as Civil And Mineral Practicals (CAMP). Centennial celebrations included the ceremonial launch for construction of two new connected buildings, a bunkhouse and common room, on Saturday, September 7, 2019.

A distinction between the site and the course might seem superfluous, but has become the recognized norm with “Camp” being the location and “CAMP” denoting the proper name for the course of study.

Expanding numbers in a single season

Over the century, the number of attendees to the site has continued to grow, and it’s not just engineering undergrads who attend Camp for CAMP. High school students, attending the Da Vinci Engineering Enrichment Program (DEEP) Leadership Camp since 2003, have required the creative reconfiguration of the bunkhouse layout and the overall site for their different age-specific use requirements during their stay.

With uninsulated accommodations, the short summer season has led to a fairly crowded scheduling of the DEEP Leadership Camp, two separate two-week CAMP courses in August (formerly known as Survey Camp), followed by two groups that each stay for an overnight in September for the second year Introduction to Civil Engineering course.

As the number of students visiting annually has increased, so too has the representation of women in Civil and Mineral Engineering, coming in at just over 47 per cent of the current class. The current bunkhouse is one big room, designed for what used to be an all-male class of attendees. As a solution, the old Stewart Hall building layout was reconfigured to allow for separate sleeping and washroom space for women, but this arrangement is no longer meeting our needs.

Planning and parameters

Planning for a new building requires a dedicated approach, many opinions sought, several committees to meet with and hoops to jump through. “What we want is for it not to stick out (compared to the other buildings); it’s about the place, not about the building,” said Professor Brenda McCabe, who is acting as the faculty lead on the project.

Among the considerations, with feedback from students and alumni, was the new building should create continuity with existing structures, recognize the character and culture of survey camp, and maintain the existing site topography. Other considerations include the need for accessibility under the Accessibility Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), giving wheelchair access to bedrooms, washrooms, and the common room.

The new project aims to extend the window for the site to be usable by the University. “We wanted three-season, and well-insulated,” said McCabe. “But still with a passive design since we want it to be as energy neutral as possible, so the design needs to be well thought through. It has to be easy to maintain.”

“From the alumni [perspective] it’s primarily to make sure it’s a sustainable building. Which means probably PV (photovoltaic),” said McCabe. “While we don’t have a budget to install a PV system right away, we have planned for it and there is a location on the roof where PV panels can be installed.”

As for the exterior cladding, “It’s a cement board, so it’s very functional, low maintenance and economical.” Suggestions for the outside colour have ranged from a similar green of the old bunkhouse, to a bright yellow, but a more neutral and soothing tone is being considered at the moment.

Design Overview

Rendering of the HCAT Bunkhouse (Credit: V+A Architects)

Gently sloping and staggered roof lines allow for high ceilings with windows for light and ventilation, especially helpful in the summer heat. The shape also emulates the gentle slopes of the immediate land contouring, enabling the new buildings to nestle into the existing landscape.

When asked about the design including two separate buildings, one for sleeping accommodations, and the other for a common room and washroom facilities, McCabe stated, “It was unexpected. The architect came up with it. That was their role; they certainly did things that we would not have dreamed of.”

“It was two separate buildings,” according to McCabe. “I think that was interesting for us because then we only have one “wet building” – with plumbing and running water. It makes it simpler for maintenance and cleaning – it’s all in one area, as opposed to being separate or spread out.”

The new facilities include two separate single-storey buildings connected by a gently sloped and covered walkway. The sleeping accommodations (to be known as the HCAT Bunkhouse, in appreciation of the generous support provided by the Heavy Construction Association of Toronto) will be positioned to the south and include several separated rooms along a long corridor, running east-west with south-facing windows, towards the lake. Benches will run the length of the corridor by the windows and allow for indoor socializing space. Stairs leading south, down from the sleeping accommodations, to an outside deck allow for splendid views and a social gathering space.

HCAT Bunkhouse

The new bunkhouse will not be the usual open-plan long bunkhouse of the past. It will have six individual rooms with up to eight bunkbeds each, allowing a maximum of 16 campers per room, for a maximum total potential capacity of 96 occupants.

The rooms are designed for maximum flexibility in configuration, and can be adjusted for multiple needs and uses. There is a need for flexible sleeping spaces particularly to accommodate our changing demographic of students – for example the Department had a female student population of less than five per cent in 1960, versus a nearly 50 per cent female student population today.

Students enter the HCAT Bunkhouse (named after Heavy Construction Association of Toronto) to find a large vestibule area, including two closets where coats and wet gear can be stowed (especially after long, rainy days on the highway curve), leading to the walkway headed north.

The entry with added storage was planned. “We asked specifically for this space for coats. When we’ve got especially wet weather, we need places for stuff to dry out. If it goes into the bunkhouses, it’s lying all over. There isn’t really a place to hang things up. So we asked for a place where they can put their wet things – there will be a breeze coming through, there will be a nice area there for stuff to dry out.”

MacGillivray Common Room

In the north building, a generously-sized common room (to be called the MacGillivray Common Room in appreciation of Robert and Scott MacGillivray’s generous support) is designed for socializing, relaxing and informal gathering – along with the obligatory late nights to finish the day’s assignments. In addition to ample wall-space for student “graffiti”, there will be signage to recognize all those who attended CAMP at Dorset (Ont.).

Across the hall from the common room one finds the washroom facilities comprised of eight individual shower rooms, a single fully-accessible washroom with shower, and men’s and women’s separate large common washrooms, each with an accessible stall.

Floor plan of the new complex (With files from V+A Architects)


“Depending on which group is using the facility, the needs are going to change. Younger groups may use it and would they need, for example, an instructor in each of the rooms where students are sleeping? Those things are so different from our needs, that I’m not certain how that’s going to work for them, but the existing buildings work for them. I think that’s an important component. And they completely transform the way that the buildings are used when they’re there – the staff house becomes a medical centre, for example.”

Creature comforts

Asked if there might be laundry facilities or refrigerators for snacks, the response was candid. “No laundry facilities in Camp. It’s a good reason for the students to go to town. It also requires more septic.” As for refrigeration, “No – there’s no beer fridge,” conceded McCabe. “We don’t want food or snacks in the sleeping facilities because of the chances of having critters come sniffing for a snack. But surprisingly, we don’t get that kind of complaint from the students. They’re too busy.” Otherwise, “It means they’re not working hard enough.”

What will happen with the old bunkhouse?

While the use of the space may change in time, preservation of the heritage structures and their many murals are paramount. The historic bunkhouse will remain intact, with repairs made to the foundation and roof. “One of the things we want to do, once we have the new bunkhouse working, is explore the idea of turning it into a group assembly space, so that we can have lectures, or large group meetings in there. The classrooms are too small to hold the whole group at once.”

Leave your own mark on Camp:

The ongoing Centennial Campaign for Camp offers alumni an opportunity to once again ‘leave their mark’ on camp, and bolster the success future generations of Civil & Mineral students. All Donations are matched dollar-for-dollar as we work toward a goal of $1.5 million (we’ve reached 70 per cent to date!). Donors are gratefully acknowledged on the campaign website. Those who contribute $1,000 or more will be recognized on a permanent donor wall. In addition, bunkbeds can be named for $5,000, built-in benches for $10,000 or even rooms for $25,000 and above.

Direct link to donate 

Special thanks to everyone who has contributed to the campaign for CAMP to date*:

Kirk M. Allan, 8T2
Donald I. Amos, 5T8
Anonymous (multiple)
Michael Aresta, 1T7
The Association of Ontario Land Surveyors (AOLS)
John Bajc, 8T2
John Donald Barber, 6T2
Beacon Utility Contractors Limited
Robert A. Beattie, 5T2
Wayne M. Bennett, 6T9
Evan Charles Bentz, 0T0
Devon G. and Linda J. Biddle, 6T7
John A Bond, 6T8
Dawn Britton
Kenneth R. Brown, 6T9
David C. Brownlow, 5T6
Buttcon Limited
W. Brian Carter, 6T1
John Challis, 5T1
Arun Channan, 8T0
So M. Chiang, 0T0
Bruce Chown, 5T5
Michael Circelli, 8T3
Classes of Civil 6T0–6T5 Campaign for CAMP
Class of Civil 6T8 for CAMP
Class of Civil 8T0 Campaign for CAMP
Class of 0T3 Engineering
Michael Cook, 6T3
Ralph Cowan, 6T8
Richard J. J. Daigle, 6T9
Ivan Damnjanovic, 1T5
Dawn Demetrick-Tattle 8T5
B. Michael den Hoed, 7T5
Steve Patrick Dennis, 9T9
Vanessa M. Di Battista, 1T2
Peter F. Di Lullo, 7T8
Gregory Dimmer, 8T3
Paul G. Douglas, 7T8
Henry N. Edamura, 6T0
L. T. Eklund, 6T0
Marie-Anne Erki, 8T0
James K. Farquharson, 7T7
Leslie D. Ferguson, 0T0
James H. Flett, 6T0
Douglas P. Flint, 5T6
Jordan A. Freedman, 1T6
Yifan Geng, 1T5
Wayne S Gibson, 8T3
Arousha Gilanpour, 9T5
David J Grabel, 0T0
Gordon Gracie, 5T2
Sheri Graham, 9T1
Donald H. Grandy, 8T4
David H Gray, 6T8
Gull Lake Cottagers’ Association
Peter Halsall, 7T7
The Heavy Construction Association of Toronto (HCAT)
Walter J. Hendry, 6T0
Alvin Ho, 9T8
Vera Y Kan, 0T0
William P Kauppinen, 6T8
Leslie & Margaret Kende 6T0
Allan M. Koivu, 8T6
Tetsuo G Kumagai, 6T8
Ross Lawrence, 5T6
Arthur Leitch, 6T9
Yiu Chung Li, 6T3
Michael Loudon, 6T6
Robert MacGillivray, 8T5
Scott MacGillivray, 8T2
G. Alexander Macklin, 5T5
Mateen Mahboubi, 0T7
William V. Mardimae, 6T9
Orlando Martini, 5T6
Levana Mattacchione, 1T3
Brenda McCabe, 9T4
Lloyd McCoomb, 6T8
Lisa McGeorge, 8T9
Malcolm McGrath, 5T4
Robert McQuillan, 5T0
Joel Miller, 6T5
Model Railings & Ironworks Inc.
Ricky Junji Mori, 6T8
Loui Pappas, 8T8
PCL Constructors Canada Inc.
Kristin Philpot
Rob Piane
Robert Piggott, 5T7
Victor Piscione, 7T5
Harold F. Reinthaler, 7T7
Peter and Michelle Rhodes, 6T7
Sidney Richardson, 5T1
John H. Rogers 3T9
Glenn L. Rogers
Senior Women Academic Administrators of Canada
Steve Schibuola, 8T6
Barbara Simpson
Amir Hossein Soltanzadeh, 9T5
John Starkey, 6T1
Kayla Louise Steadman, 1T8
D Wayne Stiver, 8T0
Arih P. Struger-Kalkman, 0T8
Selvarajah Sureshan, 9T1
Emilio A. Tesolin, 8T3
Umberto Testaguzza, 8T3
Michael V. Thompson, 6T1
Sujitlal Thottarath, 0T6
Louis J. Tilatti, 7T8
Diego Tonneguzzo
Andrew S. Turner, 8T8
John Vinklers, 6T6
Paul Walters, 5T6
Nicholas Walker, 6T5
Arthur H. Watson, 7T5
Glen A. Weaver, 5T2
Gabriel Wolofsky, 1T7
Gary J. Woolgar, 6T1
Wilson Yip, 1T0
Edward J Zavitski, 6T1
Victor N. Zubacs, 6T9

*As of August 22, 2019

U of T student team helps local church achieve sustainability and reduce its energy footprint

During the energy audit at AHPC, Noah Cassidy (left) recorded window temperature with a thermal imaging camera while Niloufar Ghaffari (right) recorded lux readings for lighting retrofits.

July 2019 Update:

The U of T CECA student chapter team placed first in the initial round of the Green Energy Challenge. They now have to create a video and present their project at the NECA convention in Las Vegas in September.

With energy costs on the rise, organizations all over Canada are looking to reduce their energy consumption wherever possible — and these U of T Engineering students are helping to make that possible.

Northern Lights Solutions (NLS) is a design team within the student chapter of the Canadian/National Electrical Contractors Association (CECA/NECA U of T). The group works with client organizations to create retrofit plans, which aim to reduce the client’s overall energy consumption and promote onsite power generation.

As a part of their 2019 submission to the ELECTRI International Green Energy Challenge, NLS is working with the Armour Heights Presbyterian Church (AHPC). They have conducted an energy audit that assessed electricity usage, lighting, building enclosures, and mechanical systems at the facility. The team is developing a retrofit proposal that will improve AHPC’s building performance and will achieve a net-zero energy footprint.

In addition to the energy audit, NLS introduced an energy conservation awareness campaign for young children at the church through the Sunday School program and Mission Possible Kids Night.

“It means a lot for us to be able to connect with the tight knit community at Armour Heights,” said Dorothy Liu (CivE Year 3), President of CECA/NECA U of T. “It was rewarding to inspire the children to take care of the environment each and every day. It made us appreciate our technical work and we couldn’t have done it without the support of the incredible church community!”

During the energy audit at AHPC, Noah Cassidy (left) recorded window temperature with a thermal imaging camera while Niloufar Ghaffari (right) recorded lux readings for lighting retrofits.

NLS will submit its retrofit proposal as a part of their entry into the ELECTRI International Green Energy Challenge. If selected as a top team, NLS will travel to Las Vegas this fall to present their proposal.

This competition allows students to expand their knowledge of sustainable buildings and make meaningful contributions through volunteering.

“The Green Energy Challenge bridges theory and application by providing students with the opportunity to use their knowledge to help their community,” said Professor Brenda McCabe (CivMin), the team’s faculty advisor. “By entering this international challenge, students gain exposure to the industry and have an opportunity to create connections with current CECA/NECA members.”

“As a testament to the achievements of this student group, two of the four projects they have previously proposed have been implemented by the client organizations, who were inspired by the team’s work,” continued McCabe.

Since 2015, NLS has grown to a team of diverse students from various STEM programs, brought together by their passion for sustainable buildings, green energy, and leadership development. Currently, the team includes: Noah Cassidy (CivE Year 4) (Project Manager), Jacqueline Lu (CivE 1T8) (Finance/Audit), Yuexin Liu (Mathematics Year 1) (Building Performance), Niloufar Ghaffari (CivE Year 4) (Lighting), Fariha Oyshee (CivE Year 2) (Solar), and Lauren Streitmatter (ChemE Year 1) (Community Engagement).

“The entire NLS team would like to thank the University of Toronto Department of Civil & Mineral Engineering for providing us with the resources and support, empowering us to make an impact on organizations in our community,” said Liu.

Originally published on April 23, 2019. Updated on July 31, 2019

‘A different kind of family’: Three international students on why they chose U of T Engineering

Second-year civil engineering student Oskar Rudolf Emanuel Andersson, who hails from Sweden, chose U of T for its reputation. (Photo courtesy of Oskar Rudolf Emanuel Andersson)

Each year, hundreds of top students from around the world choose to study at U of T Engineering. International applications have increase by more than 40 per cent over the last three years, and international students now make up more than a quarter of the undergraduate population.

This growing interest reflects both the Faculty’s global reputation and the many opportunities afforded to U of T Engineering students, both before and after graduation. In addition to the work-integrated learning offered through U of T Engineering’s Professional Experience Year Co-op (PEY Co-op) program, international students can work up to three years in Canada after completing their degrees.

Three international undergraduates recently shared their thoughts on choosing U of T Engineering, their student experience so far, and their engineering career aspirations.

Oskar Rudolf Emanuel Andersson — Sweden

Although higher education in Sweden is free for students from European Union countries, Andersson (Year 2 CivE) sought to study engineering at U of T because of its reputation as a top engineering school.

“So far, it’s been great,” he says. “Engineering is challenging, but there is a supportive student community that alleviates it a little bit.”

Andersson says settling into life in Canada was easier than he expected, “thanks to the large international community that understands what it’s like to start a new life in a new country, and are willing to help you,” he says.

As he gets set for final exams, capping off his second year, he is already planning his future goals — a career in structural engineering — and how to leverage the opportunities available at U of T Engineering, including the PEY Co-op program, which he hopes to enter in his fourth year.

“A lot of my courses have already encouraged learning in a practical way, making us think of how to apply theoretical concepts to real-life problems,” he says. “The PEY Co-op program will further this learning and help me gain the real-world experience I need to succeed once I graduate.”

Andersson’s advice to international students considering U of T Engineering: “It gets easier once you get used to your studies and get to know the city and its people better. The experience is worth it.”

Deniz Nalbantoglu chose Canada because she felt the country was more open and welcoming towards international students. (Photo credit: Nick Iwanyshyn)

Deniz Nalbantoglu — Turkey

When Nalbantoglu (Year 2 IndE) finished high school in Istanbul, she says she had two options: study in Canada or the United States.

Nalbantoglu says she chose Canada because she felt the country was more open and welcoming towards international students. She chose to study at U of T Engineering because of its global reputation and ranking.

Now in her second year, Nalbantoglu says today she has two homes. “Home for me is where my family is and that’s why Turkey – Istanbul – is home, but Toronto is my second home since I have a different kind of family here, with my friends,” says Nalbantoglu.

Industrial engineering has been a great fit for Nalbantoglu, who loves the program’s emphasis on productivity and efficiency, and says the field offers many opportunities, including in management.

“I didn’t want to limit myself – and in industrial engineering there is no limit,” she says. “I don’t want to sit in an office all day and work with numbers. Industrial engineering is something that would allow me to use my social skills.”

U of T Engineering has challenged her, and helped her grow, she says. “I believe U of T made me more independent and boosted my self-confidence.”

Kaushal Binani says he’s especially enjoyed his interactions with his course professors. (Photo credit: Liz Do)

Kaushal Binani — India

For Binani (Year 3 ChemE), as with Nalbantoglu, Canada’s reputation as a welcoming and diverse country was also a major factor.

What ultimately swayed him was “considering international reputation, campus location, and post-graduation career prospects,” says Binani, who is originally from Mumbai. “U of T Engineering checked off all of those boxes.”

Binani says he’s especially enjoyed his interactions with his course professors. “I quickly realized that even a short conversation with a professor can teach me things no textbook can,” he says.

As an international student, Binani acknowledges that his academic journey has had challenges, including adjusting to living in a new country and balancing studies and personal time — but says it’s led to personal and professional growth.

“I strongly believe that studying and living in Toronto has made me a more responsible and independent person,” he says. “I’ve also gotten so much exposure to different cultures, which has helped me gain a broader worldview.”

Over the last three years, Binani has immersed himself in business and finance courses in pursuit of an Engineering Business certificate, as he hopes to use these competencies to one day start his own chemical manufacturing company.

“I feel academically equipped and ready to start my career and solve future business problems,” he says.

By Liz Do & Cansu Aydemir

This story originally appeared on U of T Engineering News.

Lassonde Mineral Engineering Students take gold – 4 oz of gold

Winning Lassonde Mineral Engineering Team (Zawwar Ahmed (MinE Year 3), Dalton Veintimilla (MinE Year 4), Ice Peerawattuk (MinE Year 4) and Jihad Raya (MinE PEY)) with Candace MacGibbon, CEO of INV Metals (at centre).

This weekend, Zawwar Ahmed (MinE Year 3), Ice Peerawattuk (MinE Year 4), Jihad Raya (MinE PEY) and Dalton Veintimilla (MinE Year 4) successfully defended their first place title in the Goodman Gold Challenge (GGC) in Sudbury.

The GGC is a competition at Laurentian University that invites undergraduate students to assess three gold companies as investment opportunities. In teams of four, students recommend one of the three companies to a top-tier client.

The Lassonde Mineral Engineering team won the cash equivalent of four ounces of gold for their outstanding use of their academic and practical skills at the GGC.

Congratulations from the Department of Civil & Mineral Engineering. Keep up the good work!


Meet the international Pearson Scholars starting in U of T Engineering this fall

From left: Pearson Scholars Alana Bailey (Year 1 CivMin), Adriana Diaz Lozano Patiño (Year 1 EngSci) and Devansh Khare (Year 1 MechE) in the new Myhal Centre for Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship. (Credit: Liz Do)

Adriana Diaz Lozano Patiño (Year 1 EngSci) has dreamt of being an engineer since she was 12 years old. As one of seven U of T Engineering first-year students to receive a Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship, she has moved from Mexico City to Toronto to pursue her dream at Canada’s top engineering school.

The Pearson scholarship, named after Canada’s 14th prime minister, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and U of T graduate Lester Bowles Pearson, recognizes exceptional academic achievement, creativity, leadership potential and community involvement. It covers tuition, books, incidental fees and residence costs for four years.

“When I got the news that I won the Pearson scholarship, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing on my phone,” said Patiño, who is following in the footsteps of her older brother Ernesto Diaz Lozano Patiño (CivE 1T5+PEY, MASc 1T8), an alumnus and former president of the Engineering Society. “It not only meant my dream was actually materializing, but it made me realize that when you are passionate about what you want to do, and work hard for it, you can achieve anything.”

For Devansh Khare (Year 1 MechE), choosing U of T Engineering was a very easy decision. “I wanted an engineering education that makes students think differently, while exposing you to multiculturalism,” said Khare, who is originally from India. “U of T Engineering offers an extremely diverse student and faculty body, and a challenging engineering program that emphasizes on application. It’s committed to building engineers who are capable of improving their community.”

Alana Bailey (Year 1 CivE), whose home country is Jamaica, is especially excited to be among the first to learn and collaborate in the new Myhal Centre for Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship. “I really like the active and experimental learning approach to the Myhal Centre. I’m very excited to spend my studies there,” said Bailey.

Although Bailey is just beginning her undergraduate studies, she is already envisioning how she’ll be making a positive difference as a future engineer. “Growing up in a developing country and having travelled to other countries, I’ve been able to compare different levels of infrastructural development to that of my own,” said Bailey.

“I would love to be a part of growth in my country, especially in the area of transport and road works,” she added.

Munachi Jachike Ernest-Eze (Year 1 EngSci), who hails from Nigeria, also aspires to make an impact in his community after he graduates. “I am so excited about entering a world where I get maximum resources to fuel my desire to invent and improve my community through my engineering skills,” said Ernest-Eze, who is passionate to learn more about aerospace and robotics while at U of T Engineering.

Also receiving the prestigious scholarship are Mikel Rajiv Rajkumar (Year 1 EngSci) of Trinidad & Tobago, Camilo Dugand (Year 1 CivE), of  Colombia, and Atom Arce(Year 1 TrackOne) of the United States.

This story originally appeared on U of T Engineering News

Pedram Mortazavi wins 2018 TA Teaching Excellence Award

CivE PhD Candidate Pedram Mortazavi was one of just five recipients from more than 550 nominated teaching assistants from across the University of Toronto. (Photo: Keenan Dixon)

CivMin PhD Candidate Pedram Mortazavi was one of just five recipients from more than 550 nominated teaching assistants from across the University of Toronto. (Photo: Keenan Dixon)

Pedram Mortazavi (CivMin PhD candidate) has won a 2018 TA Teaching Excellence Award from the University of Toronto’s Teaching Assistant Training Program (TATP).

Mortazavi, a PhD candidate in the Department of Civil & Mineral Engineering, is one of just five recipients from more than 550 nominated teaching assistants (TAs) across the entire University. He has taught Steel and Timber Design and, Principals of Earthquake Engineering and Seismic Design.

“It may sound cliché, but I love teaching,” said Mortazavi. “TAs are a significant part of the student learning experience. I believe that the effect that instructors and TAs have on students goes far beyond the classroom. Beyond teaching the material, TAs play an important part as role models.”

Mortazavi was nominated by several students of Steel and Timber Design, of which he was the Head TA. Even after his courses were over, he found himself answering student requests for career and other advice.

“He learned all of our names and truly made himself available to students whenever they had a question,” said Chris Rotella (CivE Year 3), one of the students to nominate Mortazavi. “He was very invested in the success of the students and even when an email came in at 9 p.m., he was happy to answer and help us.”

Pedram Mortazavi with two of the students who nominated him for the TA Teaching Excellence Award, Andrew Lau (CivE Year 3) and Chris Rotella (CivE Year 3).  (Photo: Keenan Dixon)

Pedram Mortazavi with two of the students who nominated him for the TA Teaching Excellence Award, Andrew Lau (CivE Year 3) and Chris Rotella (CivE Year 3). (Photo: Keenan Dixon)

“He checked in to make sure we all had the information we needed in order to complete our projects,” continued Andrew Lau (CivE Year 3), another nominator. “When we couldn’t figure out part of our model, rather than just provide the solution, he went back to the foundations of CIV100 to explain how to fix the problem.”

Mortazavi credits this recognition and his success in teaching the course to its professor, Constantin Christopoulos (CivMin).

“Professor Christopoulos allowed me to contribute in a significant and meaningful way,” explains Mortazavi. “I was able to plan and run the tutorials, lecturing the class from time to time and also defining the scope for the term project. It was because of these things that I felt that much more invested in the students and the course.”

“He was constantly thinking of progressive methods and clear ways to teach the course material,” said Christopoulos. “He devised a teaching apparatus that replicates the physical behaviour of structural engineering components, which is often difficult to visualize.”

Mortazavi valued and implemented the feedback that he received from both Christopoulos and students.

“He proactively asked for advice and feedback about useful and effective teaching methods,” said Christopoulos. “As a result, Pedram has developed excellent skills for encouraging students to participate in classes and tutorials.”

Mortazavi is co-supervised by Professors Christopoulos and Oh-Sung Kwon (CivMin). His research — focused on the performance and experimental validation of cast steel link elements in eccentric braced frames — explores the idea that during an earthquake there is an element of a building that is engineered to absorb seismic energy and ensure that the remainder of the structure is undamaged, thus ensuring the safety of building occupants and first responders.

Mortazavi’s research sees him working with U of T startup CastConnex and, alumni Michael Gray (CivE PhD 1T1) and Carlos de Oliveira (CivE MASc 0T6). He is also the President of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute Chapter at the University of Toronto.

Mortazavi is the first Civil Engineering student to received the TATP Teaching Excellence Award since it was created in 2003. The award seeks to value the work of TAs who regularly inspire and challenge undergraduate students. The awards committee considers the TA’s knowledge of his or her subject area, communication skills, organizational skills, demonstrated enthusiasm, and ability to provide students with effective feedback, as well as testimonials from both students and faculty supervisors.

Transcending boundaries: U of T Engineering hosts WISE National Conference 2018

Sara Maltese (Year 4 CivE) is the conference chair for the sixth annual WISE National Conference, hosted at U of T Engineering. (Photo credit: Armand Suwanda)

Sara Maltese (Year 4 CivE) is the conference chair for the sixth annual WISE National Conference, hosted at U of T Engineering. (Photo credit: Armand Suwanda)

This weekend, the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) National Conferencewill welcome more than 300 delegates from across Canada to Toronto. They will hear from — and interact with — dozens of academic and industry leaders from a variety of fields connected to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The two-day event, founded six years ago by the U of T chapter of WISE, empowers young women and men in STEM to take charge of their careers and make connections that will help advance their personal and professional goals.

We sat down with conference chair Sara Maltese (Year 4 CivE) to learn more about this year’s conference:

This year’s theme is “Transcend Boundaries.” What does that mean to you?

“Transcend Boundaries” is a message to all delegates that says there are no limits to what we can achieve. It acknowledges that we see obstacles in the way of reaching our goals, but that we have the power to overcome them. In other words, go the second mile – exceed expectations and have the courage to deviate from the status quo.

What should delegates be excited about at this year’s conference?

We have a diverse range of speakers, workshops, competitions and networking opportunities in store for them.

The debate competition, sponsored by Deloitte, is a new feature of the conference this year, and will focus on bioinformatics, that is, dealing with the vast amounts of data generated by techniques such as genome sequencing. The case competition, sponsored by Accenture and Citi, has a new spin this year, with a focus on financial technology (fintech).

We have also doubled the number of sponsor companies attending this year, which means ample networking opportunities at the career fair.  This also means double the number of workshops, where delegates will have the opportunity to learn about topics related to energy and automation, blockchain technology and career building.

The past year has seen a very public conversation about gender dynamics in the workplace. How will recent events impact discussion at the conference this year?

There will definitely be discussion on this. For example, Ceridian will be hosting a workshop about their promise, “Makes Work Life Better,” where delegates will have an opportunity to learn about ways to ensure that the interests and well-being of all employees are supported, including programs and policies related to diversity, inclusion and support for women.

Why did you want to become the chair of this conference? Why are you passionate about the issues WISE engages with?

I have been a part of the WISE U of T Chapter for five years and have had the opportunity to lead the high school outreach initiative and secure sponsorships to support our events.  I have attended the WISE National Conference for many years and I wanted to be a part of planning it this year.

It was actually a presentation from the WISE U of T Chapter at my high school that helped me choose to pursue engineering. Now, as the conference chair, I am honoured to pay it forward with the hope that this conference will provide an opportunity for others to be inspired in the same way that I was.

This story was originally published on U of T Engineering News

Lassonde Mineral Engineering Team Places FIRST in 2018 Goodman Gold Challenge

Team members: Mark Umanec, Icep Peerawattuk, Marko Lopac and Dalton Veintimilla accept their first place award at the 2018 Goodman Gold Challenge in Sudbury on January 28th, 2018.

Beating out competitors from the Schulich School of Business, Laurentian University, Queen’s University and the University of Kentucky, the Lassonde Mineral Engineering won first place in the 2018 Goodman Gold Challenge in Sudbury on January 28th, 2018.

The Goodman Gold Challenge is a hands-on investment mining management competition for business, geology and mining students across North America.  Applying their academic course work, students gain real-life experience interviewing three gold mining company CEOs on their respective current and future financial standings. The gold companies, currently trading on the TSX or TSX-V included: Wesdome, Nighthawk Gold Corp, and Sabina Gold & Silver Corp. Upon evaluation, each team recommended the gold company they thought would provide the best potential investment opportunity.

The winning 2018 Lassonde Mineral Engineering team members Mark Umanec, Icep Peerawattuk, Marko Lopac and Dalton Veintimilla presented their recommended investment deck to a panel of experts from RBC Global Mining & Metals Group, Kinross Gold, Canaccod Genuity, MNDM and Paul Martin, President & CEO of Detour Gold with David Harquail, President & CEO of Franco-Nevada.

“We want to thank Mike Chen (MIN 1T4) for helping us get Waterton Global Resource Management to sponsor our team financially and also giving us the chance to present our pitch to them and get feedback before we competed,” said Marko Lopac, 4th Year Lassonde Mineral Engineering student.

This is the first year the Lassonde Mineral Engineering team participated in the Goodman Gold Challenge however this is not their first title win in a case study challenge. The Lassonde Mineral Engineering team has had some recent great showings in national and international competition including: the Canadian Mining Games, the World Mining Competition and the OMA MINED Open Innovation Challenge. See below for some highlights:

1st Place: 2015 World Mining Competition

Team members: Matthew Hart, Blake Baek, Peter Miskiel and Daryl Li.

3rd Place: 2017 World Mining Competition

Team members: Mark Umanec, Marko Lopac, Romy Done and Icep Peerawattuk.

1st Place: Jackleg Challenge
2017 Canadian Mining Games

Team members: Marko Lopac and Jack Lindsay.

3rd Place: 2017 OMA MINED
Open Innovation Challenge

Team members: Matthew Hart, Marina Reny, Yoko Yanagamura and Justin Samardzic.

U of T Mining and Mineral Engineering ranks top 10 in the world

Psychology research at the University of Toronto is ranked second in the world – just after Harvard University – in a new ranking of subjects by the independent Shanghai Ranking Consultancy.

In addition to psychology, U of T also ranked third in medical technology, fifth in public health, sixth in human biological sciences and ninth in biotechnology, finance, and mining & mineral engineering in the report.

The 2017 Shanghai Subject Ranking, released earlier this week, surveyed more than 500 top global universities in 52 subject areas.

Overall, U of T ranked in the top 25 for 25 different subject areas – only four universities were ranked in more subjects (Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley and MIT).

Among Canadian universities, U of T was ranked first (or tied) in 28 of the 46 subjects it was ranked in.

“It’s wonderful to see the continued recognition that the University of Toronto is one of the few institutions in the world with strength across the full breadth of areas of scholarship,” said Vivek Goel, U of T’s vice-president of research and innovation.

The 2017 Shanghai Subject Ranking looks at natural sciences, engineering, life sciences, medical sciences and social sciences, with the majority of its subjects falling under engineering. It uses bibliometric data as the source for the majority of its indicators, complemented by data on faculty honours and awards in selected subjects.

Each of the subjects have a differing mix of indicator weightings, thresholds for inclusion and depth to the rankings depending on the characteristics of the data.

The Shanghai Ranking Consultancy is also the publisher of the influential Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), commonly known as the Shanghai Ranking. This year, the ARWU ranked U of T 27th in the world.

In March, a similar report on global subject rankings by software company QS Quacquarelli Symonds placed U of T in the top 10 globally in nursing (6th), sports-related subjects (6th), anatomy & physiology (8th), geography (9th), computer science (10th) and education (10th). Medicine, anthropology and religious studies just missed the top 10 list, landing in 11th place.

Among Canadian universities, U of T was first in all five of the broad subject areas and first in 32 of the 43 subjects in which the university was ranked by the QS World University Rankings by Subject.

Globally, the results place the University of Toronto among the world’s elite institutions in all five subject areas and in 43 of the 46 subjects surveyed. The university scored even higher when public higher education institutions alone were counted in the subject areas ranked.

Overall, the University of Toronto continues to be the highest ranked Canadian university and one of the top ranked public universities in the four most prestigious international rankings: Times High Education, QS World Rankings, Shanghai Ranking Consultancy and National Taiwan University.

This article originally appeared on U of T News.

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