Posts Tagged: alumni support

Five EngSci alumni receive U of T’s highest award for volunteer contributions

Yuri Sagalov and Victor Xin

Yuri Sagalov and Victor Xin are among the 2020 Arbor Award recipients.


Five EngSci and EngPhys alumni are among this year’s recipients of the University of Toronto’s Arbor Awards.  This award is the highest honour granted by the University and is given for sustained contributions to specific academic units, such as faculties, colleges or institutes, or for broader contributions to the University at large.

Donald M. Cameron (EngSci 7T5) has taught the Patent and Trade Secrets Law course at the Faculty of Law for over 25 years and surveys intellectual property courses at other law schools, to ensure that U of T’s intellectual property curriculum remains unmatched in Canada. Don has written widely on IP topics and has spoken frequently at the Faculty of Law’s annual Patent Colloquium since 2014.

James Courtney (EngSci 6T6) has been an enthusiastic and committed volunteer for Engineering since 2014, and has served in various key roles with the Committee for Skule Lunch and Learn, Alumni Reunion and Faculty Council. He also served as a member of the Hart House 100th Anniversary Advisory Committee.

Yuri Sagalov (0T9) served as co-chair of the Engineering Alumni Network’s Bay Area chapter for six years and continues to work closely with U of T’s Entrepreneurship Hatchery and BizSkule through his engagement with panel discussions, competitions and seminars.

Gary Vivian (EngPhys 5T9) encourages his mentees in Engineering’s Alumni Mentorship Program to broaden their education through the lenses of psychology, creativity and our place in the cosmos via curiosity and multi-disciplinary thinking. He is passionate about career and life guidance, and enhancing campus mental-health resources.

Victor Xin (0T9) has been a steadfast volunteer in Engineering’s alumni mentorship program for almost a decade, serving as chair of the program for the last four years, and working tirelessly to create programming to bring students and alumni together.

“EngSci alumni are a particularly dedicated group who support our programs in many ways, from offering mentorship to sharing their experiences during in-class visits and more,” says Professor Will Cluett. “I am delighted that the university has recognized their outstanding contributions, and thank them for their ongoing commitment to our student and alumni community.”

Learn more about the Arbor Awards and this year’s recipients here.

Looking for volunteer opportunities? Check our alumni resources and opportunities page for ways to get involved.


Collective Impact: The gift that saved F!rosh Week

Virtua orientation screen shot


This story is featured in the new issue of Collective Impact, sent digitally to all U of T Engineering alumni.

Gary Saarenvirta (EngSci 8T8) couldn’t imagine missing out on the U of T Engineering F!rosh Week experience that welcomed him to Skule™ in 1984. So when this year’s time-honoured tradition was threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic, he stepped forward to ensure the familiar yellow hard hats and purple paint would still adorn the first-year class.

“I am a huge fan of U of T Engineering and I wanted to support the new students in a tough year. I hoped that our support would help make for a better experience in some way.”

Saarenvirta and his AI-powered technology company, Daisy Intelligence, ensured that more than 800 F!rosh Kits were mailed to incoming U of T Engineering students around the world — in Vancouver, B.C., Myanmar, Nigeria and beyond. Each kit included a t-shirt and backpack, along with two F!rosh Week mainstays: purple face paint and a yellow Skule™ hard hat.

When the first-ever virtual orientation took place this September, U of T Engineering Class of 2024 beamed with Skule pride.

“Gary’s generous financial support helped to deliver the best possible virtual F!rosh Week experience to hundreds of first years, all around the world”, says Dana Kokoska, ECE 2T0 + PEY, Vice-Chair Marketing, Orientation Week 2T0.

F!rosh Kit items (dog not included). (Photo courtesy Caitlin Chee-Kirkpatrick.)

Saarenvirta positively impacted the Skule experience for many years, supporting scholarships for Engineering Science students since 2017, and appearing as a panelist at BizSkule (now Disruptors & Dilemmas) events and as a featured guest speaker during The Hatchery’s monthly lunch and learn series. He was also an early adopter and champion of the U of T Engineering CONNECT alumni network, and a keynote speaker at U of T Engineering’s inaugural alumni bootcamp on machine intelligence.

Saarenvirta has also hired more than his share of engineering alumni.

“U of T Engineering graduates bring world-class knowledge to the table,” he says. “Meeting the incredibly talented, idealistic and energetic students is also personally motivating. They’re mind me of the importance of Skule spirit.”

He urges all alumni to rekindle their Skule ties, no matter how many years have passed.

“Alumni have been through the U of T Engineering experience. We have careers, and we should share the lessons we’ve learned with students to help ensure that their educational experience is second to none,” he says.

“Going through school is not just about the subject matter; it is about gaining career advice and finding a career path. Alumni like us are best suited for the job.”

Interested in hiring students for 12-16 months under the PEY Co-op Program? This Skule year especially there is a shortage of virtual roles available to students, planning for May 2021 through August 2022. Contact Marlyn De Los Reyes

Interested in sponsoring a student group, event or scholarship? Contact

Entrepreneurial students get a boost

Nov. 19, 2019

EngSci alumna Isi Caulder and her firm, Bereskin & Parr LLP, have been long-time supporters of U of T’s Entrepreneurship Hatchery.


A generous donation from law firm Bereskin & Parr LLP will support student teams in U of T’s Entrepreneurship Hatchery as they take their ideas from initial spark to viable startup.

Read the full story here.

EngSci alumna Isi Caulder (EngSci 8T9, ElecE MASc 9T1, LLB 9T5) is a Bereskin & Parr partner and has been an enthusiastic student team mentor for over five years. “More and more EngSci students are pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities,” says EngSci’s Interim Chair, Professor Will Cluett.  “The Hatchery is a wonderful place for nurturing our students with this passion. Isi and her firm are providing the kind of support needed to make this possible.”

Companies that were founded by EngSci students and got their start in the Hatchery include Pheedloop, Kepler Communications, and MedChart.

Are you an EngSci graduate who would like to engage with entrepreneurial students?  Join the Entrepreneurship Hatchery Group in U of T Engineering CONNECT.

EngSci Alumnus Funds First eSports Scholarship at U of T Engineering

Victor Xin (EngSci 0T8 + PEY) was motivated to fund a new scholarship by his own experiences as an undergraduate student. (Photo: Jamie Hunter)

“We need to reward the mavericks amongst us who may not fit into the mold of a traditional leader,” said Victor Xin (0T8 + PEY), reflecting the spirit of EngSci.

This sentiment inspired Xin to start a new scholarship for an engineering student with high academic marks and a passion for eSports. eSports stands for electronic sports, a.k.a. the ever-expanding world of competitive video gaming, where top prizes can be in the millions of dollars. Xin’s generous donation will support a student who has shown leadership in this community while maintaining high academic achievement.

Read more about U of T Engineering’s first scholarship for students involved in eSports.

Jim Courtney: stepping up at the Pan Am Games

April 1, 2016

When alumnus Jim Courtney (EngSci 6T6) filled out the application to volunteer at the 2015 Toronto Pan Am & Parapan Am Games, it was the first step of more than half a million he would take.

Pan Am volunteers marching along the University of Toronto Scarborough campus

He thought he might be assigned as a stadium attendant. What he ended up experiencing went way beyond his expectations.

For the Pan Am Games, Courtney was initially tasked to be a National Olympic Committee (NOC)/National Paralympic Committee (NPC) assistant, working with a designated Olympic committee to ensure their athletes and support teams have a great experience during the games. READ MORE

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