This year’s recipients of EngSci’s student awards have been involved in diverse activities outside of the classroom, but they share a common goal: to have a positive impact through volunteer work within and outside of the university community.
The Spirit of EngSci Award is presented to graduating students for exemplary non-academic contributions within the University community. The Engineers for the World (E4TW) Award is presented to graduating students for exemplary non-academic contributions to the community-at-large.
Students were nominated by their peers and selected by a student committee.
“The Spirit of EngSci Award and Engineers for the World (E4TW) Award are our Division’s most prestigious non-academic awards,” says Professor Will Cluett, EngSci Director. “This year’s winners exemplify the commitment to community and improving the lives of others that we value so highly among our students. I would like to congratulate Hanna, Dylan, May, and Kevin on this well-deserved recognition.”
Spirit of EngSci Awards
Hanna Zhang (2T0 PEY Robotics)
Connecting students, whether it’s with each other or with industry leaders, is one of Hanna Zhang’s great strengths. She is known among her classmates for her energy, hard work, and commitment to creating a supportive and enriching community.
As Co-Chair for the 2019 Engineering Science Education Conference—a cornerstone event for first- and second-year EngSci students—Zhang was responsible for connecting students with engineering leaders from a wide range of career paths. She had a keen focus on helping students build confidence by engaging professionally with the speakers. To help students develop their networking skills she introduced a new conference prep workshop to improve professional communication skills—a popular initiative that has become a mainstay of the conference in subsequent years.
Zhang has also demonstrated an impressive ability to foster community, particularly through her involvement with Frosh! Week. Over the years she has taken on increasing responsibilities, beginning with Skule Patrol where she delivered first-aid to first-year students and student volunteers. She later ran the Matriculation Subcommittee and served as a Head Leedur.
As Vice Chair of Operations in 2020, she took on the Herculean task of shifting this large and important in-person event to an online format while catering to an international audience in time zones around the globe. With welcome events scheduled at all hours, she became a night owl to help welcome international students in distant time zones and build a truly global student community. She also went above and beyond the requirements of her role to work with Troost ILead to plan substantial, long-term improvements to Orientation communications that will improve the Frosh! Week experience long after she graduates.
Zhang has also served in various capacities within the EngSci community, including as an EngSci Ambassador at recruitment events, as EngSci Club class representative, and as Co-Chair of the alumni dinner organizing committee.
Zhang will join the Continuum Robotics Laboratory (CRL) in U of T’s Department of Computer Science as a Masters student after graduation.
“Coming into EngSci I was a plucky, hyperactive, 17-year old who had no idea what she was getting herself into. Today I leave EngSci as a still-plucky, only occasionally hyperactive, 22-year old with more knowledge than I’ll likely need about reinforced concrete, a shiny pinky ring, some great memories, and an amazing group of friends. I am so thankful for the opportunities I’ve had to learn and challenge myself as well for the amazing people I’ve gotten to know along the way. Without them I wouldn’t have the confidence and audacity to pursue my dreams in Robotics and Science.”
Dylan Vogel (2T0 PEY ECE)
Dedication, strength of character, and kindness combined with deep technical knowledge—this is how classmates describe Dylan Vogel.
Over the past six years, Vogel has created a technical and social legacy through his outstanding engineering work and commitment to the University of Toronto Aerospace Team (UTAT), a student design team on campus.
Vogel joined UTAT on a gap year before even starting his university studies. Since then he has held increasingly important roles in its Space Systems Division. For the last three years he has been the Chief Engineer for UTAT’s first spacecraft—a satellite mission called HERON—that will launch in Q2 of 2022. This low cost, modular CubeSat platform will include a biological experiment to study the effects of low Earth orbit on the yeast Candida albicans, with implications for astronaut health during long-duration human spaceflight.
As Chief Engineer Vogel oversaw nearly all details of satellite design. He led the design, simulation and manufacture of the satellite electronics, including the power subsystem, on-board computer, and payload sensors, as well as simulation of the spacecraft structure and environmental testing.
Vogel’s commitment and outstanding leadership skills helped the team through multiple delays and setbacks. He dedicated himself to building a strong team culture with compassion and mutual support as guiding principles. He brought an individual-focused view to team building and made a point of getting to know each team member. His efforts helped to establish a positive environment where students were encouraged to grow into skilled and inclusive leaders.
Beyond UTAT, Vogel has been an informal mentor to EngSci students past and present. In 2020 he joined Blue Sky Solar racing to support their electrical team, and in 2017 directed the EngSci Dinner Dance Movie.
Vogel will be joining the Department of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering at ETH Zürich this fall to pursue a Master’s degree in Systems Control.
“It always brings me great joy to talk with someone who is just starting out on their own journey. The upper year EngSci students I met on UTAT were some of my greatest sources of inspiration for many years, and I’m grateful to my friends and classmates for making it such a memorable experience.”
Engineers for the World (E4TW) Awards
Chinmayee Gidwani (2T0 PEY ECE)
U of T Engineering is home to an incredibly diverse community and Chinmayee (May) Gidwani is committed to making it a welcoming place for all, regardless of identity, location, or circumstance.
In leadership positions within the Engineering Society (EngSoc)—the student government for undergraduate engineering students at U of T—she has been a fierce advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) among her engineering peers, at work, and in the community at large.
As Chair of the Policy & Structures Committee she drafted an Accessibility Policy to make it easier for all students to participate in EngSoc activities. She also worked with EngSoc Officers to develop a Diversity in the Workplace workshop to support students in the the PEY Co-op program.
While serving as EngSoc’s Equity and Inclusivity Project Director, Gidwani developed a Faculty-wide event on equity and inclusivity in the workplace called TIPS – Towards Inclusive Practices Series. To foster a sense of belonging in the diverse student community, she organized events for Skule’s undergraduate student pub with QueerSphere, the Association of Latin American Students, Indian Students Association, the Citizens Foundation and the Association of Macedonian Students at U of T. She also trained Skule club leaders on EDI topics at the EngSoc Clubs Training Day.
To help support the many U of T Engineering students who commute to campus, Gidwani introduced a new Commuter Handbook while serving as EngSoc’s Commuter Program subcommittee chair. She also created a mentorship program to help build a sense of community for commuter students.
Gidwani’s work on Orientation Week as the F!rosh Week Vice-Chair Operations impacted over a thousand students through her careful planning of F!rosh Week events, internal and external communications, and safety procedures. She ensured that events included opportunities for more introverted students and those who favour individual communication over the typical boisterous group F!rosh Week culture.
Gidwani also served as an EngSoc Board of Directors At-Large Representative and as Ombudsperson, responding compassionately to facilitated fair resolutions.
In addition to her work as part of EngSoc, Gidwani also served on the Engineering Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Group, Sexual Violence Prevention & Response Action Group, and conducted undergraduate research focused on improving the engineering ethics curriculum.
After graduation, Gidwani will be working with operating systems software at AMD.
“Thank you to the incredible community in EngSci for making the past five years so rewarding and memorable! I’ve learned so much from my peers about leadership and inclusivity that I’ll take with me after graduation.”
Gensheng (Kevin) Zhang (2T0 PEY Machine Intelligence)
Gensheng (Kevin) Zhang truly champions the culture of students helping students. Throughout his five years as an EngSci student, he helped create a supportive and enriching experience for students through mentorship and professional development opportunities outside of the classroom.
Zhang has been an impactful leader for several professional and technical students clubs at the Uuniversity. He served as Executive Chair of the IEEE U of T chapter, one of the largest student chapters of a professional association on campus. In this role he worked toward removing financial barriers that can prevent students from accessing career development opportunities. He helped quadruple industry sponsorship, allowing hundreds of students to attend over a dozen technical and professional development events for free. He also brought new, high profile student competitions to U of T Engineering, such as MakeUofT, an annual hardware hackathon with 300+ participants. The new industry and faculty relationships he helped build will benefit the chapter for years to come.
Zhang founded U of T’s Developer Student Club (DSC) backed by Google and Google Developers.
Bringing his artistic talents to bear, he served as EngSoc’s Gradball Director, winning the Directorship of the Year Award for his planning of Gradball 2T0. He also served as EngSci Club’s Dinner Dance Director, bringing his organizational skills and creative vision to these popular annual social events for hundreds of engineering students. For the past four years Zhang has also been an exceptional mentor In EngSci’s NSight Mentorship Program, helping over 15 Year 1 EngSci students with advice about academics, career, research and, most importantly, being a dependable friend.
Starting in May 2021, Kevin will join Wish, a SF-based e-commerce company, as a full-time software engineer. Despite leaving school, he plans to stay connected with campus initiatives and do his best to be an exemplary alumnus of his alma mater.
“Some things are temporary, while others are permanent. I’ve always believed that it was up to us as learners and leaders within our communities to take the temporary opportunities and turn them into permanent benefits. Over these years, I’ve never regretted sacrificing some grades to bring positive impacts to both my own and others’ lives through mentorship, leadership, and community service. Moving forward, I hope to carry this spirit with me as I tackle the challenges of becoming an industry professional while encouraging younger students to reach higher heights.”