• The Inside Perspective on Group Midterms

    By Andrew Uderian

    One aspect of university all engineers experience is midterm tests and examinations. Generally, students tend to either be indifferent to these evaluations or despise them, and math midterms are often some of the most polarizing. However, progress has been made towards making math evaluations both more fun and more applicable to real world problem solving. Since 2011, the University of British Columbia has used two-stage evaluations on high-stakes math and science evaluations, leading to increased student engagement and averages. At the University of Toronto, Professor Bernardo Sousa has worked to implement two-stage examinations in mathematics courses, most notably in Calculus II (MAT187).


    When asked about the genesis of group tests within Skule, Professor Sousa replied, “My personal effort began with tutorials, …[which] used to be hosted by one TA who solved problems on the board with little to no interaction from students. Now, students work in teams on problems that are open-ended and involve critical thinking and problem solving skills.” After the introduction of team-based tutorial problems, Professor Sousa moved to implement similar problems in a group problem-solving section on calculus exams.


    Within the profession of engineering, it is incredibly rare for practitioners to work alone. The ability for engineers to work with their colleagues effectively is essential, yet difficult to develop. One of Professor Sousa’s primary motivations behind using two-stage evaluations was the desire to foster the skill of teamwork within engineering undergraduate students. Arguing for the alternative tests, he stated, “students get to see the social aspect of mathematics and engineering… engineers don’t work by themselves, they work in teams… they create a very dynamic feedback loop of ideas, bouncing off of each collaborator to get ideas that would be much harder to get to otherwise.”


    Despite the benefits of group evaluations, the tests have remained controversial amongst the student body. Students often question the fairness of two-stage examinations, particularly due to the freedom given to students to choose their own groups. Many students assume that their high-achieving peers will cluster together, leaving those who struggle in the subject to struggle and fail together.


    However, in the case of the two-stage mathematics examinations, that assumption is untrue. According to Professor Sousa, both random selection and self-selection were trialled in another course before the introduction of group examinations to MAT187, with self-selection leading to a greater correlation between the individual and group portions of the exam. Although the approach leads to a similar distribution of marks as the individual portion, if the individual portion is assumed to be fair then the group portion must be as well. Furthermore, random groups would simply be far more challenging logistically: “Assigning random groups means that we must organize students (250+ in some rooms) to find their own group/table quickly.”


    Despite the controversy surrounding group evaluations amongst the student populace, the method appears to produce results, with a higher average on the group portion of midterms versus the individual portion. Furthermore, the group portion allows more students to enjoy their evaluation and mathematics. Speaking from the perspective of an instructor, Professor Sousa stated, “students laugh while writing this part of the test, so you just get the feeling that everyone can enjoy math if put in the right setting. As a mathematics instructor, it is incredibly satisfying to witness the group part of the test.” Although midterms bring stress for many students, being able to collaborate with friends on the same problem appears to relieve that stress and even make parts of the evaluation enjoyable.


    The use of two-stage evaluations in subjects that have been traditionally individually evaluated, such as mathematics, seems counter-intuitive at first glance. Many students argue that such tests are less fair; however, the results from the midterms, both anecdotal and otherwise, have suggested that a group portion improves student learning and enjoyment of evaluations. Due to the results, group midterms will continue to be a part of the mathematics curriculum at UofT, and will continue to be refined in order to change midterm evaluations from a source of stress into a more pleasant learning experience.

  • Are We Due For Another Renaissance?


    By Marguerite Tuer-Sipos

    I would argue that today, most people who deem themselves engineers would not think to consider themselves artists, and similarly, most artists would not consider themselves engineers. We understand these titles as having strict guidelines based on education that precedes them and the futures they might lead to, yet the intersection of these fields was not always such a foreign concept. During the Renaissance the existence of an “engineer-artist” was common and can be characterized by Leonardo da Vinci.

    When you type “Leonardo da Vinci” into Google, the first two sets of results that are suggested are “inventor” and “painter,” hinting at his equal fame for both pursuits. As discussed by Francis Moon, da Vinci’s contributions to painting are no more and no less celebrated and studied than his contributions to engineering and design. His mastery over these two systems of knowledge is evidence of his genius and can be quantified through his obsession with geometry. Theodore Cook notes in his book, “Curves of Life”, that da Vinci’s meticulous attention to geometrical details and patterns in nature allowed him incredible insight into the patterns necessary to succeed at both painting and design. By understanding the relational qualities of items within nature, paired with their inherent need to create patterns, da Vinci created a system for representing nature and applied this system to his technological designs.

    Through the intertwining of these visual systems, da Vinci’s painting and designing benefitted by developing in tandem. It’s not difficult to prove that da Vinci was a genius in both visual and technical representations as it is a widely accepted opinion, nor is it particularly difficult to prove that these systems of knowledge developed simultaneously. What I find interesting is how he acts as a prodigy in both these fields without contest, even by today’s strict standards, as demonstrated in Martin Kemp’s studies on him. His achievements in engineering are never tainted by his title as an artist; likewise his status as an artist is never dimmed by his pursuits in engineering. Instead of being cast into one stream, as is the norm today, da Vinci’s knowledge flowed freely between art and science, allowing his achievement of a level of genius matched by very few. From da Vinci’s success, the question of both when and why we began to categorize students and people into the fields of either “arts” or “engineering” arises.

    As with any phenomena, the separation of art and engineering, following their coexistence during the Renaissance, has evolved for hundreds of years. Since the late 18th and 19th century saw the industrial revolution and in turn a period of rapid technological advance, it is a natural place to look for this separation. In his essay “The Exhibitionary Complex”, Tony Bennett explores the new need for categorizing art, natural science, and man-made technology in response to the mental space technology was now utilizing. These categories were reflected in the founding of museums that partitioned their space based on systems of knowledge. Jeffrey Abt notes in his essay, “The Origins of the Public Museum”, that with the founding of art museums, technology museums, and natural history museums as separate entities, the categorization of the systems of knowledge was suddenly institutionalized.


    Unlike the heterogeneous space for classically artistic or classically scientific items to coexist during the Renaissance, these items were now more separate than ever through their existence in physically different parts of one city system. This led to the new phenomenon of the public choosing which system of knowledge they would spend their money on by picking a museum to attend. I think this choice of the public’s attendance of museums during the 19th century is echoed in the complicated funding of today’s public education system. The decision of which subject in the public school system receives more funding is essentially the same decision that a museum-goer of the 19th century faced: which is more worth my money?

    The differing public approval of the subjects of art and engineering has created the inequality of their treatment in the public school system. It is no secret that the arts in Ontario public schools are notoriously underfunded, with endless studies and statistics as proof. In his study, “The State of the Art and Music Education in Ontario Elementary School” from 2001, Dr. Rodger J. Beatty discovered only 33% of public schools in urban or suburban regions have a full-time music teacher, while that number drops to 15% in rural areas. Of these elementary schools, only 15% have a specialist visual arts teacher and only 9% have a specialist drama teacher, meaning most arts teachers in Ontario are not trained in their subject at a higher level. This should raise the question as to how these teachers will inspire their students to pursue the arts in high school, let alone in higher education; the simplest answer is they are not. The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada found in their 2011 study on higher education that enrolment in the humanities at Ontario universities has failed to see the growth that engineering and the sciences has experienced since 1998. At the master’s level, the most popular areas of study are business, engineering, law, and architecture which have seen an increase in enrolment of 75% between 1998 and 2008.

    Evidently the separation we have seen between art and engineering/science has led to a system in which one is favoured over the other; however, that does not mean educators have skipped a beat in proclaiming “creativity” as an integral part of education. While the arts are being left behind and the sciences are growing rapidly, the necessity for creativity is still rampant, often being listed as one of the top ten qualities for an engineer today online. For me, it seems like a double edged sword to limit a student’s exposure to the arts, yet demand that same student’s creativity in engineering.

    Without the intersection of art and engineering in schools there is no need for a student of science to learn about the intricacies of the arts. While that may not seem important for the student, or the education system, it is hard to ignore da Vinci’s participation and subsequent mastery of both subjects. In his exploration of nature da Vinci was able to apply the patterns he studied to both his art and his engineering design, allowing them to evolve as artefacts of each other. This leaves the question of whether the engineering solutions today are really the most creative. Or instead, whether our manufactured need to separate art from science is inhibiting the great minds of today from reaching the full “creative” potential that is so desperately desired.

  • Commuting in Toronto: an Analysis

    By Ahnaf Ferdous

    With a population of around 2.8 million people in Toronto proper, and 6 million across the GTA, there’s no question that Toronto is the most populous and one of the fastest growing cities in Canada; from 2011 to 2016, there was a 4.46% increase in population. During that same period, hardly any transit projects, service improvements or increases in road capacity have been implemented (in fact, they’ve been cut). All of this gives rise to the endless frustration of gridlocked traffic and ridiculously full vehicles. The million dollar question then is: why is Toronto’s transportation system so poor?


    Winter Woes


    Every commuter’s worst fear is heavy snow. Snow can be beautiful when one is looking out from a window, but it’s another story on the roads. Everyone is taken by surprise when heavy snowfall hits: drivers, pedestrians, snow ploughs, and train operators alike. Snow ploughs try their best to clear major roadways in the early hours before the hectic morning rush, and their effort must be commended. However, snow can continue to accumulate on missed non-major roadways, or reaccumulate if it falls heavy enough. This can cause distress for drivers who must drive to work in these conditions, especially if their cars are not equipped with snow tires.


    Nonetheless, commuters who take transit are affected the most by far. Walking to a bus stop can be a challenge if the distance is long and sidewalks are in poor condition or covered with snow. More important is the issue of how well the buses can operate in these conditions, particularly within the TTC. TTC buses are not equipped with snow tires at all, since it is not a requirement for these buses, which have large enough tires with treads that can maneuver through the snow. However, the fact remains that buses, especially articulated buses used on busy routes like Eglinton or Dufferin, are extremely slow treading through the snow, and are prone to be stuck. Additionally, catenary and third rail fires caused by ice buildup can shut down whole streetcar and subway lines, and diesel engines in buses are notorious for not starting in cold weather. Thus, bus, streetcar and subway service tends to become slower, or disappear entirely.


    Considering morning exams, this can be quite stressful for commuter students, who set their alarms earlier and plan ahead, but things do not quite work out all the time. This can be seen right here at Skule, where we have had unfortunate records of students missing ESP II quizzes due to station disturbances in inclement weather. So, what can be done? Perhaps increasing bus frequency beforehand based on weather forecasts could solve this issue for all commuters. Looking at long-term solutions, implementing more redundancy in the network with extra lines or weatherproofing transit infrastructure and vehicles. Anyways, commuting in the winter in Toronto sucks, but for now the only thing that we can do is make sure we check the weather regularly and always have an alternate route or plan with us just in case anything goes wrong.

    Construction Impacts, Present and Future


    Construction also plays a large part in Toronto’s traffic congestion. The downtown core is so littered with various construction projects that it’s a common source of anxiety for morning commuters coming in from the suburbs. On the bright side, major projects such as the Gardiner Expressway reconstruction and the massive extension of the 407 East Highway this past summer may improve commuting for certain portions of the populace.


    A couple of months ago, however, the introduction of tolls on the DVP has caused a huge uproar from commuters, who now not only have to endure their morning commute but also pay out of pocket. Nevertheless, many believe that the introduction of these tolls could improve traffic flow, as seen in other cities which have used this practice, and the revenue could be used to fund improvements elsewhere in the system. At least something is being put into place to try to improve traffic. In addition, subway, LRT, and commuter rail (such as the Spadina, Eglinton, and Finch projects and GO Transit electrification) are being built by GO Transit, Metrolinx, and the TTC (as well as transit agencies in the 905) to expand Toronto’s small subway system in order to match the hundreds of kilometres of rapid transit offered in other large cities such as New York, London and Hong Kong.


    How do I ride?


    After taking into consideration all the aspects of commuting in Toronto, a decision needs to be made. Particularly for university students, transportation can be a major factor in deciding whether to save money and commute the whole semester or to find a residence within walking distance of the university.


    Toronto’s transportation network is far from perfect, but changes and modifications are being put into place to improve the commute for the future. So, in the meantime, make sure you know about any construction that is occurring on your route, and consider all possible detours to get to your destination. If you can afford it, finding an apartment downtown might be a relief from a boring commute and a lively experience.


    If you think you can handle the commute or do not think you want to live downtown, bear the commute for now because changes are happening. For commuting students, if you have an early exam or quiz, the best you can do is get up earlier and pack everything the night before, check for subway/bus closures beforehand, and have a backup plan (like Uber) just in case. Let’s just hope that the average daily Torontonian commute time of 65.6 minutes, which is decent for the ‘worst in Ontario,’ doesn’t become worst in the world.  

  • Certificate in Forensic Engineering

    By Hannah Bendig

    In 2011, UofT Professor Doug Perovic started teaching the first-of-its-kind forensic engineering course in Canada. 6 years later, it has now developed into something much bigger. Engineering students can now earn a Certificate in Forensic Engineering, another big step for the university and the engineering community.


    What exactly is forensic engineering? The field has evolved a lot since its inception in investigating railroad accidents. Forensic engineering now investigates components in anything from surgical implants to athletic equipment. The field is applicable in product development, manufacturing, process control, and research. When a product fails for no obvious reason, techniques like scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy-dispersive X‑ray spectroscopy (EDX) can uncover pre-existing hidden chemicals that have left traces on the fracture or adjacent surfaces. Other forms of testing include spectroscopy (infrared, ultraviolet, and nuclear magnetic resonance) and radiography using X-rays.


    The forensic engineering certificate will allow students and future engineers to solve problems using logic and by applying their knowledge of legal proceedings. At the same time, students will be taught to interpret results from advanced lab equipment from the Ontario Centre for the Characterization of Advanced Materials (OCCAM), jointly operated by the Materials Science & Engineering and Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry departments.


    Don’t be fooled into thinking this certificate is only for MSE or Chem students. There are so many opportunities out there that anybody and everybody who is interested should take part in the certificate. Because of our technical training and our ability to solve problems, any engineer has the potential to work in forensic engineering. As engineers, our reputation as experts is on the line every time we give our testimony as expert witnesses. This why the Forensic Engineering Certificate is such an advantage for students. It will benefit you by giving you a look into the forensic engineering world before you are actually immersed in it. Ultimately, it will provide you with real life scenarios and steps to a solution that will be critical in the field.


  • The Big Picture: How Machine Learning is Becoming an Irreplaceable Part of Medical Imaging and Diagnostics

    By Sam Penner

    How is machine learning (ML) impacting the field of medical imaging today, and what does it have to offer to the field of diagnostic medicine?


    Medical imaging and diagnostics is a vital field of medicine, which includes many imaging modalities used to image parts of the human body to provide diagnoses and treatments of disease. Techniques using MRI, (PET)-CT/MRI, and 3D ultrasound imaging are some of the many tools radiologists use to diagnose illnesses ranging from cancer to Alzheimer’s.

    The Government of Canada estimates that, as of 2014, Canada has a medical device market accounting for around 2% of the global market, worth an estimated US$6.7 billion. They also estimate that diagnostic imaging accounts for approximately 20% of the money spent as a percentage of total medical device sales in 2014 in Canada.

    The impact Canada is making in this industry is significant. According to the Government of Canada, their innovation agenda “aims to make Canada a global centre for innovation.” Ontario is home to a number of world-class research centres specializing in medical imaging including Sunnybrook Research Institute, the University Health Network (UHN), and Robarts Research Institute, to name a few. According to a report released by MaRs in 2009, the University of Toronto has the largest Department of Medical Imaging in Canada.

    There are many concerns about how advances in automation, specifically in ML, are changing the job landscape. Many argue that ML will lead to the “singularity,” a term coined by John von Neumann to describe a future point in human history beyond which civilization will be forever changed by rapid advances in technology. Many predictions on how machine intelligence will change society are apocalyptic, describing a path where humanity has been entirely replaced by machines in the workforce. To put these concepts into focus, let us see what role ML has in medical imaging today.

    Nick Bryan, M.D., Ph.D., writing for the Radiological Society of North America, posed a question to explain the motivation behind employing ML in the medical industry: “Can a machine learn more than what we now know and use this knowledge to make decisions?” He uses the definition made by Arthur Samuel in 1959, describing ML as “the field of study that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed.” According to Dr. Bryan, the decision-making tasks in radiology are mainly those of classification; a radiologist’s main task is to find the most likely diagnosis, given the available images and clinical information.

    ML uses algorithms to make decisions. Some strategies include random forest classification, Bayesian networking, and genetic algorithms. No matter what the strategy, however, Dr. Bryant argues that an algorithm’s value to the radiologist depends on how accurately it makes a diagnosis. Since radiologists are familiar with statistical metrics, the outcomes of algorithm performance can be easily understood.

    Dr. Bryan describes two general paradigms for designing ML algorithms: supervised and unsupervised learning. Supervised learning is a process where a radiologist teaches a machine, and the machine learns from what is known from inputs of imaging data with categorized outcomes. Alternatively, unsupervised learning is a process where the machine determines what the possible diagnoses are and how to discriminate against them by cycling through large data sets (ie. “bid data”). While the first method has the potential to increase the throughput of diagnoses, the second could potentially lead to new information on what patterns can be used to diagnose an illness without the help of human professionals.

    The marriage between ML and medical imaging is becoming irreversible. In an editorial published in the Journal Pattern Recognition, Kenji Suzuki et al. describe how ML has become indispensable to the field of medical imaging. Difficulties due to variations in the complexity in biomedical image, or in deriving analytical solutions to represent objects like lesions and anatomies in biological imaging data, are some of the many seemingly insurmountable challenges facing the imaging and diagnostic profession. They describe problems in medical imaging as requiring “learning from examples/data for accurate representation of data and modeling of prior knowledge, which is exactly the focus of machine learning.”

    A study by A. Alansary et al. leverage ML to tackle the challenges of imaging a fetus due to the variability in position and orientation. They extract superpixels, a segment of an image which is in better alignment with intensity edges than a rectangular patch, to construct a graph. They trained a random forest classifier to tell the difference between brain and non-brain superpixels. The method validation achieved a 94.55% accuracy rate of brain detection.

    Dr. Bryan argues that when the success rate of the machine exceeds that of the human, it will have learned more than what a radiologist knows, giving it the ability to make decisions a human could not make. According to Bryan, this is not, however, the end of radiologists. Though machines are rapidly becoming capable of learning complex sets of data from large normal and diseased populations, he predicts that machines are destined to complement our human skills of pattern recognition.

    Time will tell the what the long-term effect will be introducing machine learning into medicine. The capacity, however, of machine learning to advance the field of medical imaging is clear, and in a rapidly expanding industry it is likely to become an integral tool in the field of diagnostic medicine.

  • We’re Nothing but the Material We’re Made Of

    By Daniel Brlas

    You would be hard-pressed to find a time or place for philosophical speculation into your discipline or work at any point in your engineering career; philosophy and engineering are rarely closely associated. Yet within the engineering department at UofT there are people willing to bridge the gap and apply their advanced technical knowledge to the theoretical.


    Prof. Glenn Hibbard, Associate Undergraduate Chair of the Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) department, frequently opens discussion into the general conception of substance. In a recent lecture, Prof. Hibbard examined the brain through a firm materialist lens, as may be expectedly implicit in the materials discipline. He described the brain as only the (more or less) physical interaction between neurons which go on to affect our ideas, reasoning, and action as human beings. This monist concept proposes that everything that goes on in our minds is a process completely contained within the brain.


    While the notion may be ripe for intellectual discussion of ontology and metaphysics in and of itself, alas, the purpose of this article is not to argue nor analyse the exact statement, but rather expand the comparison into other parts of human existence. I put forward an attempt to broaden the notion and ask: what other comparisons can be drawn between life and material processes?


    Depending on your viewpoint, an optimistic or pessimistic view can be derived regarding purpose in life. The mere thought that everyone has a purpose, eventual or reoccurring, may be enough to sate most. Perhaps the layman can be the essential bolt holding the structure, rarely noticed yet integral, carefully placed yet simple in design and execution. But the idea that there is a purpose implies it can be outlived, insignificant or, worse yet, missed. A function can just as easily not be met or never used entirely in any physical system; a beam for extra support to a bridge which is never used, or for a load which is never met may have been useful at some point, or stress may have broken the bridge anyhow. This is not the only comparison skewed by outlook.


    As you grow, the natural strain you experience hardens you. The stresses you put up with as you mature make you stronger and you can handle more without buckling, but eventually you become brittle. Disappointments crush your dreams and hope fades from your material mind, for some more than others. You do not bend as easy to small problems in life and you no longer cry over spilt milk, but a load large enough will cause a critical crack to propagate catastrophically and you break under the tension.


    And the most apt comparison follows: failure meets us at the end; we all die.  Creep a material experiences slowly through its effective lifespan, while not necessarily the failure mode by itself, will eventually take its toll and make it easier for other failure modes to occur, just as natural death is not death in itself, but rather a failure of the human system made easier through years of stress. Perhaps fatigue through an extreme load applied several times wears you down over the years. This should be no stranger to an engineering student at UofT, as the stress you feel will no doubt shorten your life overall. For some, corrosion and fouling combine as drug use degrades your strength and appearance. An impact from an object can fracture the material and cause it to fail.


    All life seems to be is a collection of stresses which leave their imprints onto the mind and body. It is enough to inspire conniptions in any reasonable being, but as a collection of living materials it is important to maintain some composure and modesty and to remember that all of us fail in the end.

  • EngSci: A Leap of Faith

    Leap of Faith

    After receiving some fire for publishing only one side of the issue (in relation to transferring out of the Engineering Science program), the Cannon had decided to publish another article vis-à-vis the same topic, only this time from the other side of the picket fence.

    Below is a transcript of an interview conducted via email of a student who has chosen to stay in the Engineering Science program and is now currently in his third year. Note that some of these questions are a repeat of similar questions from articles which were published beforehand, with minor adjustments.

    At the request of the interviewee, the student’s name will remain anonymous.


    Why did you choose Engineering Science?
    I was a very indecisive person in high school, and I only knew that I liked math/science subjects at the time. I was intrigued by the variety of options that would be available to me after my second year and also appreciated the extra year that I could use to choose the major most suitable for me. I was also attracted to the two foundation years, since I enjoyed learning about science but at the same time wanted a grounded education in engineering.

    My dream was to become a master of a large set of related skills in a professional and advanced scientific field. My aspiration was to have a research position in the physical sciences at the forefront of human knowledge that would be applicable to the real world.


    What were your initial feelings in the Engineering Science program?
    I felt very overwhelmed at first since there were so many keen students around me who were eager to make a strong start in their academic careers. I was pleased to see that most of the professors were reasonably friendly to us, and I already started to love the material that I was being exposed to.

    I hoped that I would be able to balance the incoming workload with a healthy lifestyle (physically, socially, and mentally). My fear was that I would fall behind and inevitably fail out of the program, forcing me to go into another engineering discipline and blocking me from reaching my desired option.


    What were favourite and least favourite subjects in Engineering Science?
    My favourite subjects were Classical Mechanics, Fundamentals of Electric Circuits, Waves and Modern Physics, and Electromagnetism. All of these subjects only contained topics that I really loved to learn about, and they all provided very good learning resources for me.

    My least favourite subjects were Praxis I, Praxis II, Engineering, Society, and Critical Thinking, and Cell & Systems Biology. The first two subjects had a lot of potential because of the projects they pushed me to create, but I did not like how their outcomes were so dependent on the quality of the team that they chose for us (at least in my year) and also on the subjective judgement of the teaching assistant. The third subject often let class discussions become the dominating teaching method and I was often distracted by the sometimes irrelevant material of the textbook, leading to an unfocused learning experience. For the fourth subject, I simply prefer subjects that focus on understanding a few concepts and applying them rather than memorizing a large number of terms and processes with little conceptual understanding (at least this is how I perceived it).


    Do you think you did your best?
    According to my personal standards, I did my best. I worked diligently on all of my subjects while trying to get involved with extracurricular activities. Although during my first year I was not as committed to clubs as I would have hoped, I still felt satisfied since I personally found the workload to be very difficult to balance with other activities. Devoting most of my time to my schoolwork to develop strong study habits for the more important upper years and to avoid spreading myself thin ended up being the right choice for me.

    I did not work to my full potential because I did not sleep enough everyday, but this was because I wanted to understand every subject thoroughly. I was content with the overall outcome because I felt like I had learned a lot at the end and performed decently well.


    Do you think Engineering Science might break you someday? Do you think it’s making you stronger or weaker?
    Engineering Science will never break me because of my stubborn perseverance. With all of the work and pressure it dumped on me during my time here so far, I have always found a way to get past it while still enjoying the content that I was learning. Especially after passing through the first two years without breaking, I doubt that there will be anything else that Engineering Science can throw at me to destroy my hopes and dreams.

    I may have lost a few years of my life because of my lack of sleep, but I have grown stronger in my ability to analyze problems and work on multiple projects at the same time. Engineering Science taught me to never give up no matter how hard things may seem at the time.


    What’s your overall feeling about Engineering Science?
    I am impressed in how Engineering Science does its best to cram a huge amount of information into a very condensed form. However, I am also disappointed that none of the subjects were taught very much in depth. Of course this is understandable given the variety of topics being taught, but disappointing nonetheless for a student with a love of learning as many subjects as possible. It becomes easy to feel like a jack of all trades yet master of none by the end of two foundation years if you don’t focus on the subjects that you are passionate about (not like this is necessarily possible with the workload sometimes). I also felt like the program should have taught more practical engineering skills during the first year design courses instead of focusing so much only on the design process. Despite this, I am overall very content with the diversity of subjects that I was exposed to and so far had a great experience.


    Any advice for future Engineering Science students?
    My advice to future students would be to plan and develop a realistic schedule and good study habits for yourself during the first two weeks of school. It is during this period where the courses will not be too challenging, allowing you to get a feel for how you can manage your time wisely. Join whichever extracurricular club you want as soon as possible during this time and also think about how exactly you will balance this with the rest of your curriculum. Mastering your time early will decrease the chance of having to sacrifice your grades, your commitment to your extracurricular(s), and your precious sleep for the long months ahead. Overall though, never stress out too much and try to enjoy the ride.

    Christopher Lucasius

  • On the National Technology and Business Conference ’15


    Reporter Patrick Wu gives his reflection of the events.


    In the 21st century, wave after wave of new consumer trends and needs are demonstrated in the areas of digitalized service, energy, and healthcare; technology and business are more integrated than ever before. Opportunities bloom one after another, and many speakers at the National Business and Technology Conference (NBTC) have iterated their abundance in today’s world and why it is key to grasp them now. And that’s where start-up companies come in: instead of waiting, one can choose to grasp the opportunities at hand by formulating their own ideas of improving the current state of the world. NBTC, to me, was an intriguing anatomy class on start-up businesses, their formulation, and the long and arduous processes that led them to what they are today. As a first year engineering student, it was a very paradigm-shifting experience in a design process. To me, the process of idea generation and elimination has always been to solve the problem specified by someone, be it the ESP Office or our client. It has rarely occurred to me the amount of potential that ideas themselves hold. Ideas are flexible. They can be scaled up and down to whatever we want them to be. From websites that have efficient algorithms of finding roommates to 3D organ printers that are used for surgery preparation, the NBTC has shown how these intangible, abstract ideas can be conceptualized and marketed. After spending almost three days with a group of students who took the initiative to materialize their ideas and made real changes in the communities around them, I think I’ve finally understood the power of ideas.


    Patrick Wu

  • Meet your 1T5 Engineering Society VP Student Life – Maddy Santia

    Interview by Rossdan Craig

    Elections have concluded and the results are in! In light of the newly elected officers taking up their up-coming roles, the Cannon has offered the new Eng Soc members to partake in a small interview. Below are the questions and answers of the interview with the new Eng Soc VP Student Life, Maddy Santia.

    Why did you want to run for VP Student Life?

    I think there is a lot of negative connotation towards with the Engineering Society and I wanted to try to alleviate some of that because it’s just getting way out of hand. It used to be that four or five people would run for one position but now it’s just uncontested; I think the moral is down and it’s got to be turned around.


    What did you expect the U of T community would be like when you came into it versus how you perceive it now?

    I was kind of in between. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be that everybody was really involved or nobody was really involved – it was just those two extremes that I saw when I came into university. But then when I actually came here I recognized that it seemed to be the same 50 to 100 people who show up to every single event and that’s kind of what bothers me. I want to change that around with more general student involvement at clubs and events.


    In terms of your experience or vision, what do you think that you can bring to the table?

    With being a part of Engineering Society this past year (being a project director and running events) I think that experience – managing an overall event – gave me skills in doing that on a larger scale and being more as an overseer as opposed to someone running events directly.


    Transparency is always an issue with student governments. What do you plan to do so that students are more familiar with what happens inside Eng Soc?

    An open door policy – I think that’s always been in effect… For instance, this whole problem on Facebook with students being angry about the refunds and it not being clear. Having an open door policy to have people come in and ask questions any time or letting people know that they can email [Eng Soc] VPs anytime is something I think that needs to be improved. They should know they can reach out and talk to us anytime about anything that they are confused about.


    How exactly do you plan to get more people involved at U of T Engineering?

    By creating a directory of clubs, where people can go access the type of thing they want to be involved with like using a tag like “leadership” or “design”, I want to create something that students can be involved in. It doesn’t necessarily mean that students have to go out to an event; it can also be just joining a club and enjoying their experience here.




    What’s your favourite experience you’ve had here at U of T so far?

    Ugh, so many… I would say I really liked running Post-Offer [as Director of Hi-Skule] last year. It was an awesome experience because there were so many students from Ontario and even further that come out to that day and see what engineering is all about. It’s kind of fun to tip the scales and help people choose U of T over other schools just because we have the day where they get to experience all these different things about how classes happen, how we run all events. I just found that a really fun event and it’s kind of cool to see these kids coming into school and they’re going to be us the next year.


    How do you plan on staying accountable to everything you’ve stated to the student body?

    I think it would be interesting to have progress reports. Not necessarily something that we email out to students but something that they can find online about what we’ve accomplished so far through the year so they can get an idea of what we’re doing.


    Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to be involved but finds it difficult to do so?

    I think the biggest thing is to just jump into it. I don’t think that there is anything that should stop anyone from getting involved if they really want to do it. I don’t think a lack of experience necessarily means anything; just because you don’t have experience doesn’t mean you wouldn’t be good at it. Just jumping in and seeing what you can do is probably the best thing that can happen.


    What are you looking really forward to being a part of Eng Soc next year?

    I’m really looking forward to being an overseer to Orientation. It’s such a large scale event that I think it would be really fun to see the ins and outs of how it works on the front side, what the students are seeing, and financially what happens, where all the money is allocated.


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