Posts Tagged: alumni

Alumna named to Forbes 30 Under 30 list

Deb Raji


Recent EngSci graduate Inioluwa Deborah Raji (1T9) is among the leading innovators on the Forbes 30 Under 30 2021 list.  She was recognized in the category of Enterprise Technology for her impactful research on racial and gender bias in AI, and for holding to account companies that use biased technology.

Her work, which she began while still an undergraduate student, has made international headlines and has already helped set new for accountability standards within the AI industry.

Raji was recently also named to MIT Technology Review’s Top Innovators Under 35.

Engineering Holiday Gift Guide

wrapped gift

Spread seasonal cheer — and Skule™ pride! — with this selection of 14 gift ideas, all of which have roots at U of T Engineering

From a brain-sensing headband to a contemporary culinary cult classic, we’ve collected our top picks — all with ties to U of T Engineering — for a holiday season unlike any other.  The collection includes a new book by Jonny Sun (EngSci 1T1 PEY) and a new Netflix series co-starring Michael Bazzocchi (EngSci 1T9).

See the full gift guide in the U of T Engineering News.

Chair of EngSci’s robotics engineering major elected as IEEE Fellow

Professor Tim Barfoot

Professor Tim Barfoot (UTIAS), seen here at the launch of the Robotics Institute, held in May 2019, has been elected a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE). (Photo: Liz Do)

EngSci alumnus Professor Tim Barfoot (UTIAS) has been elected a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Robotics and Automation Society.

Professor Barfoot serves as chair of EngSci’s robotics engineering major, and is an EngSci graduate from the class of 9T7.

Learn about his outstanding contributions to mobile robot navigation in the U of T Engineering News.

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.


Eleven alumni and students honoured with 2020 Engineering Alumni Network Awards

2020 EAN award winners


By Engineering Strategic Communications

Eleven outstanding members of the U of T Engineering community were recognized Nov. 5 at the 2020 Engineering Alumni Network (EAN) Awards.  Watch the virtual awards ceremony here.

The evening awards ceremony, held virtually this year, celebrated alumni and students for their accomplishments and their contributions to the Skule™ community

“The Faculty has just been amazing in its resilience, and tonight’s winners really embody that spirit,” said Dean Christopher Yip. “You illustrate the role that engineers can play in meeting the world’s most daunting challenges.”

“When I came to Toronto from Hong Kong in the late 1980s, I didn’t know that getting an engineering degree from U of T would set me up for a lifetime of success, but it has,” said Allen Lau (ElecE 9T1, ECE MASc 9T2), one of this year’s winners of the Engineering Alumni Hall of Distinction Award. “I call on my fellow engineering alumni to think about how the training and skills you’ve gained at U of T can improve business, society, diversity and equity in the city and country we call home.”

This year’s recipients were:

Engineering Alumni Medal

First awarded in 1939, the Engineering Alumni Medal is the highest honour awarded by the Engineering Alumni Network. High achievement is the common thread that links past recipients of this medal. In their diverse careers, these individuals have demonstrated superior accomplishments and have responded with flair and excellence to the challenges they have faced. They are outstanding role models for U of T Engineering students.

Ted Davison

Edward J. Davison (Eng Phys. 6T0, MA 6T1) received the A.R.C.T. degree in piano in 1958, the B.A.Sc. in Engineering -Physics and the M.A. in Applied Mathematics from the University of Toronto in 1960, 1961 respectively, and his Ph.D. degree and Sc.D. degree from Cambridge University in 1964 and 1977, respectively. Ted began his service to the Department of Electrical Engineering in 1964, progressing to become University Professor for ECE, and later Professor Emeritus in 2004. This also included time as an Assistant Professor at University of California, Berkeley, from 1966-1967.

Ted was inducted into the University of Toronto’s Engineering Alumni Hall of Distinction in 2003, and was awarded the Electrical and Computer Engineering Club Teaching Award in 2002. His research interests are in the area of Control Systems Theory and Automation, with a particular interest in Large Scale Systems, Decentralized Control, Robustness, Controller Design of Large Flexible Space Structures, and Process Control.

Learn more about Edward J. Davison (video)

Engineering Alumni Hall of Distinction Award

The Hall of Distinction is an assembly of extraordinary alumni, selected for membership by their peers for their exemplary accomplishments. These are graduates whose performances have ultimately defined what is most outstanding in our graduates and in our profession. The careers of the members stand as examples and add a sense of reality to the aspirations of successive generations of U of T Engineering students.

Pat Burchat

Patricia Burchat (EngSci 8T1) is a Professor in the Physics Department at Stanford University. Her research focuses on studies of the Universe at both the largest and smallest scales. She helps lead a large international team of scientists preparing to analyze data which will provide the most extensive census of the Universe to date. She and her collaborators will use these data to investigate the nature of dark matter and dark energy, and the cosmological evolution of the Universe.

At Stanford, she has served as Chair of the Physics Department and has numerous awards for excellence in teaching. She was elected as Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society. Pat has played a leading role in the growth of the APS Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics, and has been recognized for her dedication to mentoring students.

Learn more about Patricia Burchat (video)

Howard GinsbergHoward Ginsberg (EngSci 8T9) is a graduate of the University of Toronto Neurosurgery Program (0T3), with additional fellowship training in neurosurgical and orthopedic spinal surgery techniques. He also holds degrees from U of T in Engineering Science (8T9), an MD (9T3), and a PhD in Biomedical Engineering (0T1). He is an Assistant Professor in U of T’s Department of Surgery, and a neurosurgeon and the Spine Program Director at St. Michael’s Hospital.

Dr. Ginsberg’s research focuses on engineering applications to neurosurgical procedures with the goal of improving safety and outcome for patients. He has supervised several engineering students on research projects, trained surgeons from around the world and helped thousands of patients during his career. Dr. Ginsberg is the co-founder and chief medical officer of Point Surgical Inc., a spin-off company that has developed new technology for immediate and accurate intra-surgical identification  of  cancer  types  through  a  combination  of  laser  vaporization  and  affordable  mass spectrometry.

Learn more about Howard Ginsberg (video)

Allen LauAllen Lau (ElecE 9T1, ECE MASc 9T2) is the CEO and co-founder of Wattpad, the global multiplatform entertainment company, where he leads the company’s vision to entertain and connect the world through stories.

A leader in Canada’s technology sector and startup ecosystem, Allen is a member of the Canadian Council of Innovators, a lobby group that advances the interests of Canadian technology companies at all levels of government. He is also the co-founder of Two Small Fish Ventures, a fund that invests in Toronto and Waterloo-based early stage internet companies with strong network effects.

Prior to Wattpad, Allen co-founded FeedM8, a mobile advertising company that was later acquired. He also previously co-founded Tira Wireless, where he helped leading brands optimize content for mobile delivery.

Allen received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Toronto’s Electrical Engineering program.

Learn more about Allen Lau (video)

Shumin ZhaiShumin Zhai (MIE PhD 9T5) is a Principal Scientist at Google where he leads and directs research, design, and development of input systems, interaction methods, and mobile haptics. His past research career has contributed to theoretical models and understandings of human-computer interaction as well as broadly deployed practical user interface designs and product innovations.

He originated and led the SHARK/ShapeWriter project at IBM Research and a start-up company that pioneered the swipe typing keyboard paradigm. His academic publications have won the ACM UIST Lasting Impact Award and a IEEE Computer Society Best Paper Award, among others. He served as the 4th Editor-in-Chief of ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction. He received his Ph.D. degree at the University of Toronto in 1995. In 2006, he was selected as one of ACM’s inaugural class of Distinguished Scientists. In 2010 he was named Member of the CHI Academy and a Fellow of the ACM.

Learn more about Shumin Zhai (video)

2T5 Mid-Career Achievement Award

The Class of 2T5 was the first class in Canada to receive iron rings at The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer. Since 1975, the Class of 2T5 annually presents the 2T5 Mid-career Achievement Award. This award recognizes a graduate (11 to 25 years from undergraduate graduation) who has earned respect within the profession as well as the broader Canadian community.

Michael HelanderMichael Helander (EngSci 0T7, MSE PhD 1T2, ChemE PDF 1T4) is President and CEO of OTI Lumionics Inc., an advanced materials company he cofounded during his PhD at the University of Toronto in 2011. The company commercializes disruptive materials and process technology for OLED displays and lighting, from headquarters in Toronto and offices in Asia. The company’s technology, based on more than a decade of intensive research and development and backed by a robust intellectual property portfolio, offers substantial savings and performance and lifetime improvements.

Helander received a BSc in Engineering Science and a PhD in Materials Science & Engineering from the University of Toronto. He was a visiting scientist at the Xerox Research Centre of Canada and was a Governor General Gold Medal winner, Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar, and Chorafas Prize winner. He is also an alumni of the Creative Destruction Lab, the Next Founders, and the Canadian Technology Accelerator.

Learn more about Michael Helander (video)

Angela Tran

Angela Tran (EngSci 0T5, ChemE MASc 0T7, ChemE PhD 1T2) is a native Torontonian who calls San Francisco home, where she is a General Partner at Version One. Investing in the US and Canada, she has a unique perspective on both ecosystems. Angela’s desire to help others and work with people who are bringing about positive transformational change led her to the world of VC, where she quickly made a big impact.

Angela focuses on health/bio, AI/ML, social platforms and other startups leveraging network effects. She is a firm believer that good investing is both value- and data-driven. Prior to Version One, Angela co-launched Insight Data Science, a YC-backed startup designed to help PhDs transition from academic research to careers in industry via a six-week training program.

Angela is a trustee on the board of the Computer History Museum where she chairs the NextGen advisory committee. She is a board member for the C100 and is involved with the Creative Destruction Lab in Vancouver.

Learn more about Angela Tran (video)

7T6 Early Career Award

The Class of 7T6 annually presents the 7T6 Early Career Award to engineering graduates who have attained significant achievement early in their career and shows promise of further contributions. The award is presented to an individual who is distinguished early in their profession, community, university and other related fields.

Bin LiuBin Liu (CivE 1T4) graduated from the civil engineering program at U of T in 2014, he is the Co-Founder and CEO of iMerciv. iMerciv’s mission is to cater to the orientation and mobility of people living with vison loss. The first product, the Buzzclip is a wearable sensor that help users safely navigate around any objects that they may encounter. It is currently in market and empowering the lives of people with vision loss in over 25 countries.

iMerciv is currently launching Mapinhood with the support of the Microsoft AI for accessibility grant, Mapinhood is a crowdsourced pedestrian navigation app that provides personalized and barrier free navigations for all pedestrians.


Learn more about Bin Liu (video)

Malcolm F. McGrath Alumni Achievement Award

Named in honour of Malcolm McGrath on his retirement as assistant dean — alumni liaison, this award recognizes contributions of personal service to the Faculty, the University or to the community. McGrath was the first assistant dean responsible for alumni affairs and development in the Faculty. Among his many accomplishments are the growth of the Annual Fund, the Engineering Open House, the introduction of the Skule™ Stage Band, and the establishment of the Graditude Campaign.

Eric Matusiak

Eric Matusiak (MechE 9T1) is an experienced consultant with a passion for retail and the broader consumer business sector. He has over 20 years of consulting to leading retailers in North America across multiple formats including department stores, specialty apparel, footwear and mass merchandise.  He has worked across all departments and functions from store to back office, enabling him to address client challenges and opportunities from multiple perspectives.

As the National Retail Industry Leader at BDO, Eric leads a group of retail and IT professionals who implement ERP, POS, BI and other retail technologies that enrich consumers’ experiences and improve retailers’ business results. Eric also advises retailers on technology strategy and helps organizations manage the process and organizational components of their business to ensure that technologies align to business strategy.

Based in Toronto, Eric is a member of the Retail Council of Canada, an alumni board and committee member at the University of Toronto and alumni mentor at the Richard Ivey School of Business.

Learn more about Eric Matusiak (video)

L.E. (Ted) Jones Award of Distinction

This award was established to acknowledge the contributions of Professor Emeritus L.E. (Ted) Jones and is in recognition of the contributions over his long and distinguished career to students, alumni and the Faculty. It also pays tribute to his continuing support and dedication to the Engineering Society and the Engineering Alumni Network (EAN) of the University of Toronto. The award endorses Jones’ great appreciation of the arts and his love of music.

Kate SohnKate Sohn (EngSci 1T9 + PEY) was exceptionally dedicated to music and dance during her time at U of T, often fulfilling not only artistic roles but also positions of leadership and mentorship in the community. While regularly performing as a violinist in various orchestras and chamber ensembles, she also directed Skule Orchestra as Managing Director and Concertmaster. She often volunteered as an independent musician, most notably for events hosted by the Division of Engineering Science.

As a freelance composer, her composition has been featured in an animated short which was accepted to the Reel Asian International Film Festival 2019. She began her dance training in university and performed with community and competition teams whose styles ranged from hip-hop, jazz funk, heels, street and K-Pop cover. Kate hopes to continue to nurture her passion for both music and dance alongside a career in medical devices.

Learn more about Kate Sohn (video)

Honourary Member of the EAN

Acknowledges the exceptional contributions of an individual who is not a member of the EAN but has contributed in a very significant way to bettering the Faculty, the EAN and/or the lives of current or future members of the EAN.

Cristina Amon

Cristina Amon is Alumni Distinguished Professor in Bioengineering and Dean Emerita at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering. Under her leadership, Canada’s #1 ranked engineering school has become a global hub for inter-disciplinary research and education known for its strategic Faculty-wide initiatives, cross-Faculty centres and institutes, and innovative undergraduate and graduate programming. Her commitment to outreach and diversity has set a new standard for Engineering schools worldwide: the number of women faculty members at U of T Engineering has doubled in the last decade and the Faculty celebrated an historic 40% women first-year undergraduate enrolment for its second consecutive year in 2017.

Prior to her deanship at U of T, Amon was the Raymond J. Lane Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of the Institute for Complex Engineered Systems at Carnegie Mellon (until 2006). She received her master’s and doctorate degrees from MIT in 1988. Her research pioneered multidisciplinary thermal designs and made ground-breaking innovations to transient thermal management, optimization algorithms for renewable energy, nanoscale transport in semiconductors and biological systems. Her scholarly contributions are published in 16 book chapters and over 350 articles in education and research literature.

She has been inducted into the Canadian Academy of Engineering, Hispanic Engineer Hall of Fame, National Academy of Engineering, Royal Academy of Spain and Royal Society of Canada, and elected fellow of all major professional societies in her fields. Additional accolades include the ASEE Westinghouse Medal, ASME Heat Transfer Memorial Award and SWE Achievement Award, the highest honour.

Professor Amon received the Engineers Canada Award for the Support of Women in 2010, was named one of the YWCA’s Women of Distinction in 2011 and one of Canada’s 25 Most Influential Women in 2012, and received the Ontario Professional Engineers Gold Medal in 2015 – the most prestigious honour for engineering public service, technical excellence and professional leadership.

Learn more about Cristina Amon (video)


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

EngSci alumnus helps teachers gauge student understanding in virtual classrooms

As students around the world shift to online learning, two U of T Engineering graduates have designed a software platform for mathematics practice that provides real-time insights into student understanding. (Photo: Thomas Park via Unsplash)

Around the world, hundreds of thousands of kids are attending virtual classrooms for the first time. The move to online learning has come with its own challenges, for students and teachers alike. Without being able to see students working in person, it can be hard for instructors to gauge how well their lessons are being absorbed.

Now EngSci alumnus Aiden Carnegie (EngSci 1T7 +PEY) and fellow U of T Engineering graduate Nived Kollanthara (IndE 1T7 + PEY) have created a new tool to help teachers get real-time information about how well their students are learning math and where they could use more support.

Their platform, called Kanak, uses artificial intelligence to provide immediate feedback so that teachers can adjust their lesson plans to their students’ needs.

Read more about their work in the U of T Engineering News.

Student research: smart UV lamp to fight COVID-19

smart UV lamp

This prototype UV lamp, designed by a team including undergraduate student Bipasha Goyal (Year 3 EngSci), is part of a smart robotic assembly that is designed to sterilize surfaces in hospitals, schools and even residential buildings. (Image: Junho (Dave) Jeong)


Bipasha Goyal (Year 3 EngSci) is working on a new tool to help defend against COVID-19.  The smart UV lamp she is designing under the supervision of Professor Joyce Poon (ECE, EngSci 0T2) will use sensors for optimal disinfection in health care settings.

The innovative system, called LumineSense, is one of dozens of student-led projects funded through Mitacs Research Training Awards.

To learn how Goyal plans to integrate smart sensors and algorithms into the device, read the full story in the U of T Engineering News.

Inioluwa Deborah Raji (EngSci 1T9) named to MIT Technology Review’s Top Innovators Under 35

Deborah Raji photo

EngSci alumna Deborah Raji (1T9) has investigated racial and gender bias in facial recognition services. (Photo courtesy of Deborah Raji)


EngSci alumna Inioluwa Deborah Raji (EngSci 1T9) has been named to this year’s list of Top Innovators Under 35 by MIT Technology Review, an impressive achievement for such a recent graduate.

Raji was recognized for her impactful research on racial and gender bias in facial recognition services, such as those used by law enforcement agencies.  Her work, which she began while still an undergraduate student, made international headlines and has already helped set standards for accountability within the AI industry.

Read the full story of how Raji’s research and advocacy are having an impact in the U of T Engineering News.

At age 18, EngSci’s youngest grad is just gettting started

Maddy Zhang is the youngest graduate of the class of 2020 at the age of 18 (photo by Johnny Guatto)


In 2016, an incoming Year 1 EngSci student was making news.  At the age of just 14, Maddy (Xiaoxiao) Zhang (EngSci 2T0 Aerospace) was not only U of T’s youngest student, she was believed to be the youngest ever in U of T Engineering’s history.  That she chose to enter one of the most challenging undergraduate engineering programs impressed her instructors and classmates alike.

In the four years since then, Zhang has excelled in her chosen discipline–aerospace engineering–through research and design work, and has formed lasting bonds with her fellow students.

Next week Zhang will be the youngest member of the EngSci Class of 2T0 and 1T9 PEY as she receives her undergraduate degree.

Read about Maddy’s EngSci journey in the U of T News, and see where she’s headed next.

© 2020 Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering