Posts Tagged: awards & honours

Praxis III co-instructor receives Faculty Teaching Assistant Award

photo of Xinyue Crystal Liu smiling to camera, wearing headhpone with cat ears

 

Xinyue Crystal Liu (MSE) is among fourteen staff and faculty members honoured for their leadership, citizenship, innovation and contributions to the Faculty’s teaching, service and research missions.

Liu played a key role in developing EngSci’s new design course, Praxis III.  She also helped design assignments for individual home use when the course had to go online during the pandemic, and has (re)developed content and materials for several other courses.

Read more about Liu and the other U of T Engineering award winners.


Compassion in action: Meet 2022 Troost ILead Difference Maker Award winner Khadija Rana

Khadija Rana looking to camera and smiling, standing in front of an ivy-covered wall

Khadija Rana is the 2022 winner of the Troost ILead Difference Maker Award. (Photo: Negar Balaghi)

 

By Natalia Noël Smith

To Khadija Rana (Year 4 EngSci) being a difference maker is not heroic.

“I want people to know that anyone can do it,” she says. “It’s about recognizing people as the whole beings that they are.”

Rana is the 2022 recipient of the Troost ILead Difference Maker Award. Sanjay Malaviya, a long-serving member of the Troost ILead Board of Advisors, established the award in 2020 through the Bodhi Tree Fund, a private giving foundation. The award recognizes a U of T Engineering undergraduate student for their leadership achievements and their vision for change. It provides $50,000 to help a promising young leader accelerate their steps after graduation.

Rana’s path has not always been easy. When she began her studies, she says she felt isolated and thought she had “a productivity problem.” But that began to change in 2019, when she took advantage of the Troost ILead Summer Fellowship, followed by an engineering course from ILead called The Power of Story. These experiences helped Rana combine her love of engineering with her passions for caregiving and leadership.

A long-time volunteer with Hospice Toronto, Rana has accompanied people through the dying process.

“The skills you apply in engineering and caregiving are not so different,” she says. “In both, I’m listening to people and being present for them. You have to hear someone else’s story and be willing to take action to address that need.”

Rana’s leadership is strongly influenced by the concept of loving kindness.

“I found a definition of this in the book The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck, and another one from author bell hooks, who wrote All About Love: New Visions in 2000. They talk about it as, ‘the will to extend yourself for the growth of other people, and for your own growth.’”

For Rana, the idea of extending yourself to help others resonated with her understanding of the practice of engineering.

“We hear about it during Frosh Week on the first day in the story of Lady Godiva,” she says. “We learn about it through engineering design, in our courses. We celebrate it during the Iron Ring ceremony at the end of our programs. Professors demonstrate it for students when they advocate with them. Club leaders and mentors practice it when they volunteer their time for one another. It’s everywhere.”

Putting this idea into practice, Rana soon became involved in Skule™ life. She joined CUBE, the Club for Undergraduate Biomedical Engineering, eventually becoming its president. She worked with her team to rebuild the organization’s structure, foster self-determination and empower members to shape their own roles.

She also served as a senior Director of U of T’s Biomedical Engineering Design Team, where she led three project teams to collaboratively develop assistive devices for clients across the Greater Toronto Area.

Rana was also able to put the loving kindness ethic into practice as a research trainee at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, where she worked under the supervision of Dr. Azadeh Yadollahi and Dr. Douglas Bradley. Her tasks included guiding patients with severe asthma through voluntary but grueling experiments related to sleep apnea.

In her final year, Rana became President of the U of T chapter of Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), leading a 40-member team working to reframe conversations of gender equity by prioritizing allyship and sensitivity to culture and race. She chaired the 2021 U of T WISE flagship international conference, which drew more than 600 participants from 15 countries.

After graduation, Rana plans to pursue research in narrative approaches to community-led design. Grounded in her caregiving experiences, her work will explore how engineering professionals and community stakeholders derive meaning from complex ideas through storytelling to inform technical change.

In the longer term, she has her sights set on a career in medicine where she will advocate for the advancement of narrative approaches to enhance empathy among health-care practitioners and ultimately transform patient care.

When asked how she works with those who may be resistant to her philosophy of compassion, or with whom collaboration presents challenges, she says “It’s important to be curious about what’s making it difficult for them. And to do that, you bravely ask them.”

“Once you’re able to make space for people to be more open about their challenges, you have an intentional conversation with them that’s prioritizing their growth and yours too. It’s not zero sum.”

This story was originally published in the U of T Engineering News.


EngSci alumni Tony Chan Carusone and Joyce Poon named IEEE Fellows

photos of Professors Tony Chan Carusone and Joyce Poon in offices

Professors Tony Chan Carusone and Joyce Poon have been named Fellows of the IEEE. (Photo: Chan Carusone; Poon by Katja Woldt)

 

By Matthew Tierney

The world’s largest technical professional organization, IEEE, has named its Fellows for 2022 — including ECE Professors Tony Chan Carusone (EngSci 9T6 PEY) and Joyce Poon (EngSci 0T2). IEEE Fellow is the highest grade of membership, given to those whose outstanding accomplishments in engineering, science and technology have shown significant value to society.

Chan Carusone, who is cited for ‘contributions to integrated circuits for digital communication,’ realized early in his career that his research in communication and control systems would have the most impact in the context of microchip design.

“That is where the rubber meets the road in electrical and computer engineering,” he says. “And I saw digital communication technologies as the most transformative technology of our age.”

The connective tissue of our high-speed digital world is the integrated circuit (IC) — the microchip — and designing faster ICs with greater reach and reliability impacts a myriad of fields: everything from digital communication to imaging and machine learning.

One can draw a direct line between efficiency gains in micro- and nanoscale IC design to vast, impactful areas such as sustainability, Chan Carusone says.

“For the past ten years I’ve been working to lower the power consumption of the microelectronics that handle our communication traffic, with hopes of reducing our footprint on the planet.”

Over his career, his research has earned him seven best-paper awards at IEEE conferences, and he’s served on many editorial boards and technical program committees of the world’s leading journals. He co-authored the textbook Analog Integrated Circuit Design and recently took up the torch from Professors Adel Sedra and K.C. Smith (EngSci 5T4) to co-author the 8th edition of the classic textbook, Microelectronic Circuits.

Professor Poon’s research focuses on a different medium of transmission: not electrons, but photons. Cited by IEEE for ‘contributions to integrated photonics on silicon and resonant microphotonic devices,’ she looks to advance computing and reduce power consumption by using light from the infrared wavelength to the visible spectrum.

“What drives me and my research is envisioning what computers will be like in ten years or so,” Poon says. “Quantum computing, neuromorphic computing, wearable displays, and eventually brain interfaces are all part of that future. I see photonics taking computing technology into new directions.”

She mentions her past work with silicon photonic foundries, which demonstrated how photonic integrated circuits (PICs) could enable new devices and functionalities, as one of her proudest accomplishments to date.

In 2018, Poon was named a Director of the renowned Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics in Germany, heading the new department of Nanophotonics, Integration, and Neural Technology. She regularly serves on technical program committees and is a Director-at-Large of Optica (formerly known as the Optical Society).

While their research interests may have followed different paths, Chan Carusone and Poon share beginnings as undergrads in University of Toronto’s Division of Engineering Science. When reflecting on their elevation to IEEE Fellow, they both mention the people they’ve been fortunate to work with, learn from, and teach.

“I am deeply honoured by the elevation and cannot emphasize enough how grateful I am for the many team members and collaborators who make the work possible,” says Poon. “This recognition shines a spotlight on our team, our ideas and our efforts over the years.”

Chan Carusone adds, “The most inspiring and innovative people I’ve encountered are IEEE Fellows, and I’m proud to count myself among them. But I’m most proud of seeing my grad students accomplish amazing things during and after their degree.”

Professor Deepa Kundur, Chair of ECE, sees Chan Carusone and Poon as part of the continuity of excellence in the department. “The commitment and talent that they bring to their work exemplify the ideals of engineering: bettering society while mentoring the next generation. Sincere congratulations to Tony and Joyce on this prestigious recognition.”

This story was originally published in the ECE News.

 


EngSci’s Associate Chair Prof. Aimy Bazylak elected as Fellow of the EIC

 U of T Engineering professors Aimy Bazylak (MIE), Vaughn Betz (ECE) and Frank Vecchio (CivMin) have been elected 2022 Fellows of the Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC), for “excellence in engineering and services to the profession and to society.”

Left to right: Professors Aimy Bazylak (MIE), Vaughn Betz (ECE) and Frank Vecchio (CivMin) have been elected 2022 Fellows of the Engineering Institute of Canada.

By Carolyn Farrell

U of T Engineering professors Aimy Bazylak (MIE), Vaughn Betz (ECE) and Frank Vecchio (CivMin) have been elected 2022 Fellows of the Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC), for “excellence in engineering and services to the profession and to society.”

As the Canada Research Chair for Thermofluidics in Clean Energy, Bazylak is working to advance fuel cells, electrolyzers and batteries for clean power production and energy storage without greenhouse gas emissions. Her research is focused on the use of modelling and real-time imaging to design new materials for high efficiency and performance. She has partnered with automotive and energy companies such as Nissan, Volkswagon and Hydrogenics Corp. to develop next-generation fuel cells and electrolyzers for higher efficiency, zero-greenhouse gas emission power and energy storage.

Bazylak has served as the Director of the U of T Institute for Sustainable Energy and Acting Vice-Dean, Undergraduate for Engineering, and has been a member of U of T’s Committee on the Environment, Climate Change, and Sustainability since 2017. Her contributions have earned her several prestigious awards, including the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering’s I.W. Smith Award, the Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship, and the Helmholtz International Fellow Award. She is a member of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists and a Fellow of the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Betz holds the NSERC/Intel Industrial Research Chair in Programmable Silicon. His work has revolutionized the use of field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), to allow engineers to rapidly create new hardware systems and realize their design visions. As a doctoral student, Betz created a packing, placement and routing tool and methodology, known as Versatile Place and Route (VPR), which is now the world’s most popular toolset for modelling new FPGA ideas. Betz cofounded Right Track CAD Corporation in 1998, growing the company to several million in annual revenue. After the company’s acquisition by Altera in 2000, he played a key role in the design of their next-generation chips, now used by tens of thousands of engineers.

In 2011, Betz joined U of T Engineering, where he continues to lead research to improve algorithms and design software to improve FPGAs. He mentors future entrepreneurs and has personally established several engineering scholarships. Betz holds more than 100 U.S. patents and has received 14 best paper awards from the field’s top conferences and journals. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the U.S. National Academy of Inventors, and recipient of the Ontario Professional Engineers Medal for Engineering Excellence.

Professor Emeritus Vecchio is the former Bahen/Tanenbaum Chair in Civil Engineering. An internationally respected authority on the behaviour of concrete structures, he has contributed substantially to increasing the safety and reliability of Canada’s infrastructure. Vecchio is the co-developer of the Modified Compression Field Theory, a groundbreaking conceptual model for describing the behaviour of reinforced concrete under general load conditions, which has been incorporated into design codes in Canada and internationally. He also developed a suite of software, called VecTor, for predicting the response of concrete structures to practically any action, which has been widely adopted for teaching and in industrial and research applications.

In addition to his research, he has significantly contributed to the development of standards and codes for concrete structures globally through his service on national and international technical committees. According to a recent Stanford University study, Vecchio has the highest citation score amongst Canadian researchers across all fields of Civil Engineering and ranks in the top 20 worldwide. He is a Fellow of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering and the American Concrete Institute and has received several of these societies’ most prestigious awards.

“On behalf of the Faculty, my warmest congratulations to Professors Bazylak, Betz and Vecchio,” says U of T Engineering Dean Christopher Yip. “Their outstanding contributions illustrate some of the key areas in which U of T Engineers are making an impact across disciplines and sectors.”

This story was originally published in the U of T Engineering News.


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