• The Story of Tales Of Harmonia


    Clubs are a bit of a mystery at UofT. Right from the start the number of groups presenting themselves at the Frosh club fair can be very overwhelming. However, despite the vast array of available distractions at our university there are a number of students who haven’t taken the opportunity to put themselves out there. A big reason for this is simply a lack of information; it’s difficult for a student to discover all the clubs that meet on campus, and it’s even harder to learn about major clubs’ executive positions or especially about how to start one’s own club. To facilitate our readers’ education in the matter of club participation, club running and club founding, The Cannon interviewed Tian-Yuan Zhao, the founder and former head of Tales of Harmonia, a very creative and fun performance-arts organization. They can be seen organizing free shows around the university featuring a vast array of delightfully entertaining content including songs from the Lion King, to Super Mario Brothers, to Howard Shore, and really anything else you can imagine. On top of all their success in their performances, this club’s creativity and pizzazz won them the UTSU Outstanding Creative Arts Club Award in 2013.

    Cannon: Tell me about ToH. Do you consider it only an engineering club? How many members does it have?

    Tian: No, actually, that’s a misconception. It is a UofT wide club, with around half of its members that are engineers. It has a diverse array of students, and it has around 25-30 members. One other interesting fact is that we don’t restrict ourselves to UofT students.

    C: But you’re associated with the Engineering Society?

    T: Yes, as well as Ulife and UTSU.

    C: When and why did you start this club?

    T: I started it three years ago. I looked at the top three choirs on campus and I thought to myself, none of them celebrated music of all kinds; they all specialise in just one genre of music. So I decided to flip a famous quote on its head. The quote is, “if you can’t beat them, join them”, while what I did instead was, “if you can beat them, then don’t join them”. So I decided to start my own choir that involved music of all walks of life.

    C: In practical terms, did you find starting a club to be a difficult process?

    T: Yes. But it was a good kind of difficult, in that it allowed me to learn. It was a good challenge. I learned marketing and strategy, both online and offline. I did HR management, for example auditioning and finding the right people for the positions we needed to fill. I learned graphical design and web development, organizational development, event management, and overall, leadership skills. And of course I got to apply musical arrangement and composition.

    C: What about finance?

    T: What with us being a UofT wide choir, we have so many more funding opportunities than if it was just a Skule-related group.

    C: Why might a student want to get involved with a creative club, like ToH?

    T: There’s multiple answers. One is: if you join as an executive, then you can definitely gain a lot of opportunities to develop your soft skills as well as some hard skills, such as technical skills, depending on the role you take.

    Another is the networking. Because it’s a UofT-wide club, you get to interact with non-engineering students. If you learn to communicate and work with other people who are not in engineering, it can help you develop a better understanding. It will help you develop humility, empathy and teamwork skills.

    But aside from that, there are artistic reasons. One: It merges the best of your right brain and your left brain; your intellectual side and your creative side, and that can help you in your engineering career. Two: It’s a good way to release stress. Yes, there are other ways to release stress, like drinking, or other clubs, but artistic expression is a more productive way to do it. And three: Personal development.

    C: In operating a club, what would you say is your biggest success, and your biggest failure?

    T: You might think the biggest success was our award, but for me personally, I think it was it was when we organized our most recent concert back in late March. It was our biggest concert, with a 10 member mini-orchestra and a full libretto. We pulled off a musical theatre concert; it was like a mini Skule Nite. It had the biggest turnout and we had the most fun doing it, compared to any of our other concerts.

    As for failure, I’d say it had to do with the way I went about my resignation. I think I could have handled it more professionally. At the time leading up to my resignation I could have treated ToH with more value. But despite all that I’m pleased to see all the success that ToH is having right now!

    C: Would you encourage other students to start their own clubs?

    T: Yes. However, be wise about it, which is kind of obvious. Specifically what I mean by that is that UofT is so big; there’s already 400+ clubs. SKULE already has 100+ clubs. When you want to start a club, really assess what problem you’re solving and what value you provide, and don’t try to oversaturate something that is already filled with many things.

    But if you really think you have a great idea for a club, then just put your heart and soul into it, and you will eventually taste from the fruits of your labour.

    Starting a club is like starting a company, except that you have a wider safety net. But it still requires you to embody the basics of what it means to be an entrepreneur, and that is to never give up and to never give in. ToH is a part of me as I am a part of it. You need to have that sense of responsibility that it takes to run a business, right from the get-go. Then you can and will succeed.

    C: Is there anything that you’d like to add?

    T: To those just entering Skule, these next 4 or 5 years will be the best time of your lives, so make the most of it. And to those who are or were in ToH, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you’ve done for the group and for me, directly or indirectly, I love you all!

  • Ferguson


    I hope most people see where I’m going with this before being quick to dismiss what I’m trying to get across.

    Last Monday, a grand jury found that Darren Wilson should not be criminally charged for the shooting of Michael Brown. Understandably, the town of Ferguson, and much of the Internet, exploded with rage. You might agree that most of the public’s opinion, maybe even your own, is summarized pretty well by this tweet from @VancouverGuero:

    “So what we’ve all learned last night. It’s everyone else’s fault EXCEPT the police officer with the gun? Wow.”

    I think this is a completely reasonable reaction. Law enforcement is always under the spotlight to see whether they themselves are acting within the confines of the law. And that is where this case becomes unique. Because what is defined as “acting within the confines of the law” is and will forever be a hotly debated subject.

    Many of us will rage just like the rest of the Internet is, saying that the decision made on Monday is unreasonable. But the fact is, a grand jury, made up of people just like you and me made this decision. Based on the posts and tweets I’ve read, you’d think it was up to Officer Wilson’s own mother who decided if he should be charged!

    The fate of Officer Wilson in trial was not swayed by his status as a law enforcement officer. His fate was in the hands of the very public who, since August when the shooting took place, have been rioting in the town of Ferguson, demanding that justice be served to Wilson.

    So then what went wrong on Monday? Why after months of demanding that Wilson be held accountable for his actions was he released without  facing any criminal charges? It seemed like the public had him right where it  wanted, didn’t it ?

    No it didn’t, and that’s where this case fell apart. Two things took place in that courtroom that ultimately decided how the jury was going to carry this whole thing out.

    I’ll start with the more interesting one.

    Many of us are forgetting how criminal law operates in the United States. It varies by state, and a state is in fact permitted to enforce laws that contradict the United States’ Supreme Court. That is exactly what happened here. Missouri law still holds that it is lawful to shoot and kill a fleeing and suspected felon, even if the suspect does not pose an immediate danger to the police or the public.

    More specifically, under Missouri law, Wilson was legally able to shoot and kill Michael Brown only if Wilson “reasonably believed that [Brown] was attempting to escape by the use of a deadly weapon or would endanger life or inflict serious physical injury unless arrested without delay, and [Wilson] reasonably believed that the use of deadly force was immediately necessary to effect the arrest of the offender.”

    So, basically, two things needed to be proven for innocence. First that Brown would inflict injury if not immediately arrested, and second that deadly force was necessary to ensure the arrest was made.

    I think this is where people may be misunderstanding this whole case. By ruling that Wilson should not be criminally charged, the grand jury (the one made up of people just like you) simply found that (a) Brown would have hurt someone if not arrested, and (b) shooting Brown was necessary to perform that arrest. The fact that shooting Brown resulted in his death unfortunately does not change anything. If shooting at Brown, regardless of whether that shot would be lethal, was necessary to detain him, then under Missouri law (I really can’t stress that enough) Wilson is innocent.

    Now onto the second point about what took place. This is what would ultimately lead to the grand jury making its decision.

    I’ll start off by saying that I really sympathize for the 12 members of that grand jury. I can’t imagine what kind of pressure they were feeling. It probably takes a lot out of you to have analyze hundreds, maybe a thousand sheets of paper filled with testimonies, evidence, police reports etc.

    This is really important because people must understand that any jury’s decision is based on the validity of the evidence put before them. So what happens when that evidence is questionable? Well, what happened on Monday is a good example of that.

    You see, there were a number of people who claimed they witnessed the shooting back in August, and wanted to testify in court to ensure that Wilson be criminally charged. But when you have multiple people coming into court with their own versions of a shooting, inconsistencies arise. And ultimately it’s up to the grand jury to decide the truth.

    As an example, there were several witnesses who claimed they saw Officer Wilson standing over Brown and shoot him in his back. But when autopsy results showed that Brown had no wounds to his back, some of those witnesses changed their story.

    Innocent until proven guilty, everyone. How can you expect a jury to find an officer guilty of acting unlawfully using a mass of confusing and contradictory accounts? If you are sitting on that grand jury and a witness tells you he or she saw Wilson towering over Brown before murdering him, only to have an autopsy completely dismiss that claim, well then what? You’ve gained no evidence and wasted a witness. Now repeat that over and over and that about mimics how this trial took place. It was very unlikely that Wilson was going to be found guilty on the evidence that was presented. I repeat, innocent until proven guilty.

    After all of this, I highly recommend you do your own research on what happened both on Monday and on that night in August. I’m not an expert. All I’ve tried to do is put to rest the confusion that arose, because I know more than a handful of people were questioning the results after they were made public.

    Many of you may see this as my way of defending the grand jury’s decision. I think “explaining” is a better word, but I leave that to you.

    I know that a lot of you think you can compare this shooting to the death of Sammy Yatim that took place last July. Many of you may know that Const. James Forcillo was charged with second-degree murder and think the same should go for Darren Wilson. But unfortunately this isn’t comparing apples to apples.

    Do you want my personal opinion?

    Officer Darren Wilson is rightfully innocent according to the law. It’s the justice system being used that is guilty of murder.

    Tyler Weil


  • Five Reasons Why Chelsea Will Win The Premier League This Year

    chelsea article title photo


    Chelsea looks like the team to beat at the start of the Barclays Premier League. Let’s look at why they are poised to win the title in May 2015.


    Reason #1: Defence

    Chelsea’s defence is the best in the league. With John Terry’s consistency and leadership at the back, the Blues cannot seem to put a wrong foot down. They are not the fastest of defenders, but the central defence partnership of Terry and Cahill offer stability and their communication with Courtois between the sticks is close to perfect. Mourinho has also put his faith in the young Belgian over the experience of Cech, and so far Courtois has produced some breathtaking saves. Ivanovic and Azpilicueta, along with the arrival of Felipe Luis from Atletico, all offer pace and attacking flare. Ivanovic has a knack for scoring goals too and he rescued Chelsea on multiple occasions last year when the strikers were drawing blanks.

    Reason #2: The partnership of Fabregas and Matic

    Chelsea has brought in Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona to fill the void left by the departure of Frank Lampard. For an average fee of just over £30 million, he is a steal. But that’s not all; with the return of Nemanja Matic back from Benfica, Chelsea has two central midfielders to provide protection for their back four, while also offering an attacking threat.


    Fabregas is the assist king. His opportunities were limited at Barcelona, but he is already beginning to shine at Chelsea. Having played every match in the premier league so far, he has provided some exquisite passes for the Chelsea front line to score from. His pass to Andre Schurrle is especially memorable because of the deftness of the touch and the vision he has to find the German.  Matic, on the other hand, has been compared to Claude Makelele and some analysts are even suggesting that he plays Makelele’s position even better. He is a towering figure in the Chelsea midfield and his work rate is fantastic. Both players have slotted right into Mourinho’s 4-2-3-1 formation and have so far dominated the central midfield in all the games they have played in.


    Click to view the GIF

    Reason #3: Strikers who score goals

    Chelsea finally have a strike force that makes them big horses to challenge for the title this year. They sold Demba Ba to Besiktas, let Samuel Eto’o leave on a free transfer and sent Fernando Torres on loan to AC Milan. In return, they signed the in-form Diego Costa, who had an incredible breakout season with Atletico last year. They re-signed Didier Drogba, their saviour in Munich. And finally, they have brought in Loic Remy, who is more than capable of providing the goals.

    dCosta started the premier league with a bang. He had 9 goals in 7 games his health is questionable due to a troubled hamstring. Remy also started well after scoring in his debut, but he has also been nursing an injury following his goal against Maribor. All signs pointed to trouble and pundits questioned Drogba’s ability to complete a full 90 minutes. However, not only did the “King” score against Maribor, but he also scored at Old Trafford and once again at Shrewsbury. The man is a big match player and Chelsea certainly made the right decision to bring him back. All three strikers offer different types of threats, but all three of them are in top form. If Chelsea had their services last year, they would have certainly been champions.


    Click to view the GIF

    Reason #4: Eden Hazard

    Chelsea have a wealth of attacking midfield talent. They have Schurrle, who is fresh from winning the world cup; they have the Brazilian trio of Oscar, Willian, Ramires and they even have the services of the young Mohammed Salah. But what will set them apart this year is Eden Hazard.


    He had a good season last year for Chelsea, but he looks even better this year. He has the ability to turn any good defender inside out and has completed the most number of dribbles than any player in the premier league this season. His commitment to defence has also led Mourinho to brand him as one of the top five best players in the world. Hazard’s pace and touch, along with his ability to create chances out of thin air is what makes him Chelsea’s star player. He’s poised to have a breakout season and will definitely play a big role in Chelsea’s title challenge this year.

    Reason #5: The Mastermind Mourinho

    Mourinho does not like to lose! He will do anything to win and that includes the occasional press banter and mind games. Jose’s record against the so-called big 4 was incredible last season. His tactics got the better of Manchester City and Liverpool both times last season, and while people questioned his defensive mindset against Arsenal and United in away games, his intentions at home could not be clearer with a demolition of both teams. He knows how to motivate his players and how to get the best out of the team he has. His passion for the game is second only to his passion to win and that mindset is what will lead Chelsea to glory this year.


    This season, Mourinho has tried to build a new team that can challenge for the title over the next decade. There is the good mix to experience and youth in the team and the balance in the squad is perfect. It is reminiscent of the Inter Milan team that won the treble in 2010. So far this season, he is undefeated. It remains to be seen whether Chelsea can pull off an invincible season (unlikely). But with Mourinho at the helm, anything is truly possible.

    Final Verdict

    With all the attacking power, the defensive stability and the midfield balance and creativity, Chelsea is no longer the  little horse in the race. Mourinho and company are in the perfect position to win the premier league title this year, the only question that remains is: by how many points?

    Praneet Bagga


  • Fun ways to stay active in Skule


    In the middle of midterms, it’s easy for engineering students to get tunnel vision. The world outside of that Stewart Calculus textbook seems to disappear and all that makes sense is debugging code or performing row operations.

    You’ve heard people talking about joining varsity or intramural sports teams to help them get exercise and have a bit of fun. It sounds like a good idea, until you remember the pile of problem sets, other clubs you’re involved in, and that thin shred of a social-life you’ve somehow managed to hang onto.

    Sports may seem like a bit much for most of us but there are still plenty of ways to get involved in athletics at Skule. U of T is filled with clubs and lessons with sports you’ve probably never tried before. We at The Cannon would like to present you some of those options in the interest of preserving your health and sanity without taking too much of your time.

    If you can think of a sport, it’s probably an option at U of T. Tom Moss, manager of recreation and wellness at Hart House says archery lessons are a “way to get a break from academic work and re-energize with activity”. If that requires too much hand-eye coordination for you, karate and other martial arts might be more to your liking. Not a fan of getting thrown onto a mat? You could always learn to dance. Lessons in these and other disciplines are available through the hart house website and provide a great opportunity to get exercise, meet people, and get a break from studying.

    If you’re more into team based activities, U of T’s curling club offers a low-pressure way to have fun and learn to curl. If you act fast, you and a team of four friends could register for the bonspiel tournament, a beginner curling tournament held right here at U of T. Registration ends Nov. 7 and the tournament will be held Nov. 22nd. So tap the link if you’ve always wanted to see what your best “Hurry hard!” sounds like. Finally, the rock climbing club at U of T is a great way to  get exercise, and maybe even conquer that fear of heights you’ve always struggled with. If you’re interested in the whole climbing scene all you need to do is join the Facebook group and tag along for one of their outings to Bolderz, or even Rattlesnake Point.

    Did you think Quidditch in the Harry Potter Universe looked fun? Why don’t you try it yourself and join the UofT Quidditch team! See them in action here against Guelph.

    All in all, the opportunities for a U of T student are endless. All that’s required for a unique and interesting sporting career is a little bit of research and a little bit of will power. Happy Sporting!

    By: Sean Pitre

    Edited by: Patrick Polvorosa

  • Toronto Mayoral Candidates


    Olivia Chowhttp://www.parl.gc.ca/Parliamentarians/Images/OfficialMPPhotos/41/ChowOlivia_NDP.jpg

    Olivia Chow loves Toronto; most people in the Trinity-Spadina riding are all too happy to tell you just how much. In all honestly, she really does seem to care about Toronto and what happens to the people who live here. The problem is that caring doesn’t guarantee that she will make a good mayor for this city. Before campaigning started in earnest, Olivia seemed like a shoo-in to replace our dear Mr. Rob Ford. A 29-year veteran of politics and the late, great Jack Layton’s number one favourite person, it seemed fairly indisputable that she would hold a commanding lead throughout the campaign season. I can hardly emphasize enough how disappointed I was when the first candidates’ debate was aired and she could barely even hold her own. Every single debate since has been a disappointment. Where are the zingers? Where is the strength that one would expect of a political heavyweight like Olivia Chow?

    It is true she has a pretty good platform: an LRT in Scarborough and a relief line for Downtown, reasonable tax increases (nothing above inflation), plans for job creation focussed on Toronto youth, and construction of 200km of designated or grade-separated bikes lanes in the next 4 years. She even explains where all the money will come from. Her platform is pretty much airtight; and that’s the problem. An airtight platform means there’s nothing amazing in there. An airtight platform means that her plans for Toronto are too simple. Toronto is a great, global, ever-expanding city. Toronto is unpredictable. How can she make such airtight promises when so many variables are at play? To be fair, none of the major candidates managed to pull off a platform with wiggle room, but I don’t know. Maybe I just have higher standards for Olivia Chow? Maybe I just like her too much to let her off so easy.


    John Tory

    First off, I think we’d better get one thing out of the way: John Tory is privileged. It is the only thing most of his opponents have against him. I think they’re just jealous of what a nice guy he is. He’s spent years trying to improve this city for everyone, not just for him and his friends. Tory is a businessman with a businessman’s brain, and at this point that is something this city’s politics are sorely missing: someone with a brain that knows how to make campaign promises into reality. He’s been on fire (figuratively of course) throughout the debates, and he’s carved out his own voter base by gaining the trust of the electorate. He seems to have improved at garnering votes since his last run for office.

    Like Olivia, John’s platform seems pretty solid. He’s proposed the construction of a light rail called SmartTrack (essentially retrofitting GO lines to create a “Regional Express Rail”), which is an alternative to subways that has been researched for some time now by Metrolinx. He’s said that he wants to make Toronto a “music city” and attract an outdoor music festival. He’s also cleverly refused to remove any taxes until there is some way to replace the income that would be lost. All in all, Tory’s platform pretty well designed for a growing city like Toronto. He’s realized that maintaining the city’s income is not enough and that we need to increase it to account for a growing population with growing needs. Tory seems sane and responsible, like the kind of guy you’d trust to take care of your children. Maybe it’s just that trust thing he’s good at.

    Doug Fordhttp://i.huffpost.com/gen/1779825/thumbs/o-DOUG-FORD-facebook.jpg

    Another Ford. What else can I say about this guy? This one is worse than our current Mr. Ford. Hard as that may be to believe, it should be clear to anyone that has been paying attention to the Mayoral race so far. He talks when he has no idea what he’s talking about and he continuously lies even though we all know he’s lying (or at least are informed by the Star of his lies). The past four years have been a saga of embarrassments; so many that it’s hard to remember the timeline of events. All I know is that the honeymoon ended so fast we barely got to enjoy our margaritas. In my opinion, Rob may have been a disaster both politically and in his “personal life”, however his big brother Doug has been the mastermind behind every change that has rocked the city since the day he was elected. How do I know? Just count the number of times Doug has taken over from his brother instead of the letting the deputy major take over (as is the correct procedure).

    But let’s not make this personal. Take a look at his platform. He’s proposed a subway for Sheppard, Finch, and a Yonge Relief Line. That sounds great, but that’s it; there is no research to suggest that there is adequate ridership to justify all of these additional subways. He has also said nothing about where the money to design and construct these subways is going to come from. Instead, he’s proposing a tax increase that is lower than the rate of inflation. For a growing city, that just won’t do. Where is the money going to come from the build billion dollar subways on top of paying for every other existing community program that our city’s residents need? His plan is just not possible, and that is what annoys me the most.

    We could even look at it this way; when Rob Ford was diagnosed with cancer, Doug stepped right up to replace him. They’re not even trying to convince people to vote for them anymore, but somehow they’ve managed to crawl ever upwards in the polls. All I can say is this: remember the last four years and know this, one Ford is the same as another and that should speak volumes to voters.

  • Much Ado About Homework


    After The Cannon’s Rabab Haider made this post about the best way to tackle note-taking, I felt a piece on homework only seemed appropriate.

    Many of you are just beginning to settle into the new environment life has thrown you into; adjusting to new surroundings, making new friends, and learning a lot. But as fun as these weeks have been, midterms start in just two weeks, so there’s work that needs to be done.
    Spending my first year in EngSci, I observed the strategic and oddly breathtaking efficiency of my classmates as they seemed to study work that would take me 5-6 hours in a matter of 1-2 hours, leaving me wondering what I could be doing better. It wasn’t until I ultimately took a step back over the summer and observed how the EngSci specimen operates. They are not super-human. It just takes some practice in prioritizing and efficiency and you’ll see that any task can be adequately handled.
    Here are some study tips that I learned from the EngSci Class of 1T7 and plan to use for my remainder of my undergraduate in Chemical Eng and academic career:
    Free time isn’t exactly free time
    So you have just finished an eight-hour day. Time to put your feet up, grab a drink and browse Reddit, right? Not a chance. Honestly, if your professor has just posted a problem set that is not due until next week, finish it now. Doing this will help you down the road in two very important ways.
    First and most obviously, it will help academically. Getting as much work out of the way now will save time for 2am CIV problem set writing or practicing drawing those Pringles for Calculus (hyperbolic paraboloids, whatever). Even the most diligent students who think they have time allocated for all of their homework forget about an assignment here, or presentation there. Avoid falling behind by giving yourself breathing room.
    Secondly, it will help socially. Living in residence, I have several friends in Arts & Science who naturally have more free time and therefore come knocking on my door to hang out more often than not. Looking back, I can’t say there is a worse feeling than when your friends have simply given up on asking to hang out because they are tired of hearing how busy you are. This happens because when they’re not around (i.e. when you should be getting work done) you’re on Netflix or playing PC games, and when Friday night is here and the midnight deadline for that Praxis submission is hours away, you’re stuck inside trying to finish it instead of having the night off to enjoy with friends.
    I would do the same amount of work as my classmates, but take twice as long to finish it. We were EngScis; we knew we only had so may hours of free time. Those who were smart knew how to reap the benefits of those hours.
    You’re only a number if you choose to be one
    This is actually one thing that students of smaller institutions show off quite often; the idea that at large school like UofT, you will only ever be a number your professors and TAs, and not get the one-on-one help that people crave the most. While for many of you this may turn out to be true, it is true because you made it so. You posses the power to make each and every one of your instructors know you by name, simply by introducing yourself and asking for help. I see every day of class, the smartest are the ones who run up to the lecture podium as quickly as possible after every lecture to ask all of the questions they have.
    Now that is an effective use of UofT Time.
    Go to your professors’ office hours, go to tutorial and raise your hand in the middle of a lecture to ask a question. The more people you reach out to, the more help you can get when it really counts during midterm and exam season.
    Leave. Your. Room.
    This one I didn’t pick up from observing classmates but is one I am trying now after seeing how much it could have helped me last year. The truth is, I cannot any work done when I am in my room. The Internet is an unforgivable time robber, sucking away precious hours of studying. This is what would lead to the social handicapping I mentioned before.
    My strategy this year? Every day after class, head back to New College, eat dinner, go upstairs to my room to drop off anything I don’t need, and take only what I need for my night’s work and go to my building’s lounge or the library. Anything to get me away from my computer.
    Another tip. I would highly recommend also leaving your laptop at home before heading out. I recently replaced my laptop with a PC + iPad w/ keyboard combination and I’m loving it. I get all of the functionality I need, but when I need to limit my connectivity to just Blackboard and some Googling, the iPad is much better at blocking distractions.
    I hope these tips will help you out this year as much as I hope they help me. I’d like to thank all of my friends and classmates from this past year who have helped me become a better student and in turn, a better friend.

    Tyler Weil

  • Student Profile: Jeremy Wang


    Jeremy Wang is a second year Engineering Science student looking to pursue the Aerospace Engineering option.

    What was your strategy for success in first year?

    I wasn’t too concerned about academics in first year just because it was so early on. So the emphasis for first year was kind of understanding where boundaries lie, and pushing what I was capable of to know where those boundaries rested. It’s easier to put more effort into academics than it is to put more effort into extracurriculars when you know that you have very high grades and you want to maintain that. So for me, it was about getting experiences and risking academics in an environment where I had more liberty to screw up…A self proclaimed academic masochist is probably the best way to describe me.

    Could you go into being a ‘masochist’ a little farther?

    It’s the reason I came into EngSci! The most significant moments and rewarding experiences have come out from really hard challenges that at the time seemed like a lot of pain and a lot of suffering, but in hindsight proved to be more valuable than it seemed when you were actually in the moment. It’s not always comfortable, but I think you benefit in the end. It’s the kind of thing that you need to try it once and then look back at how valuable it was. Until you’ve actually tried it it just seems insane to you.

    What would be your number one tip you’d want to give to the new first year EngScis?

    Time management. And figuring that out quickly. And also not being daunted by the intense amount of failure you will experience.

    What have you been involved in this past year?

    The UofT Aerospace Team (UTAT)! There was also Toronto Students for the Advancement of Aerospace, which is a collaboration between UofT and Ryerson where they try to organize a local aerospace conference every year. There’s also the Space Generation Advisory Council, an international organization [that has a] permanent observatory status on the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. They host different events to get together to talk about different issues in space. It’s a really great way to get in touch with people who are a little more advanced in their career.

    Where should student go or who should they contact if they’re interested in being a part of UTAT?

    They can email me at outreach@utat.skule.ca or they can listen up during the beginning of the year. We’ll be hosting a lot of intro seminars to different things in aerospace, getting students some hands-on technical skills like electronics and composite fabrication, it’s going to be interesting.

    One of the hardest things to do in first year is getting yourself out there. What did you do to get yourself out there?

    First year is probably the best time one can have to take risks. If you are comfortable with being uncomfortable, then just throwing yourself out into as many opportunities as you can and getting a sense of the community you’re in [really helps]. There’s no way to safely convince yourself that everything you do will have long term merit, but if you can find intrinsic motivation for things…just jumping in and seeing what things are like is all I can really say.

    Did you already have an interest in rocketry, or did you get into that by joining UTAT?

    No, I got into that by joining UTAT and seeing what it was like!

    If there was one thing that you’d want to change about Skule or EngSoc that would better the experience for the students, what would that be?

    The exact choice of professors and the ways in which professors are chosen. They’re not trained teachers, they’re mostly research oriented and it gets tricky in class…

    To be honest I don’t have much [else] to harp about. I have a tendency to treat bad things as a challenge to myself to become better at them rather than change the external environemt. So rather than saying the professors are terrible, which some of them are, I say, “How can I accommodate this?”

    What was your favourite F!rosh week event?

    Full purple dye, no question.

    What have you decorated your hard hat as?

    I have covered it with equations. Equations from rocketry. My helmet is like my wearable reference guide!

    What would you recommend to first year students as the best place to be when they want to (a) hang out with friends and (b) meet new people & make friends?

    (a) If you’re living on res then you’re floors common room. If not, you’re discipline’s common room. (b) UTAT.

    Tyler Weil

  • UnERD 2014: Undergraduate Engineering Research Day


    Walking through Bahen Centre was a little different than usual on August 14. But it wasn’t the line of poster-boards or the cluster of tables that caught the eyes of onlookers. The lobby was packed with detailed schematics, impressed judges and eager students, dressed up in their shirts and ties. The annual Undergraduate Engineering Research Day (UnERD) had once again transformed Bahen into a hub where professors, alumni and grad students could easily take away the hard work and passion of the summer research students.

    Schedule of the Day

    Co-chair Amy Zhao and Marshell Ma started off the day-long conference at the opening ceremony, where participants were informed of the day schedule, and then introduced to the opening keynote speaker, Professor Paul Santerre. Professor Santerre discussed his research pursuits in polymer-polymer interaction. He encouraged students to follow their hearts and become job creators, rather than following status quo.

    The morning podium session began soon after, and with the support of their friends and project supervisors, the first round of participants formally presented their research efforts to a panel of esteemed professors. The first four podium categories, Biomechanical, Bioengineering, Industrial, and Civil & Environmental, took place simultaneously. Spectators struggled to choose which presentations to watch, and some even floated from room to room to explore as many categories as they could.

    While the podium presenters enjoyed a Mediterranean styled lunch at the end of the morning session, the poster session participants prepared to present their projects in a more casual manner. The lunchtime session covered the topics Bioengineering, Chemical, Civil & Environmental, Electrical/Bioelectrical & Computer, Material Engineering, and Mechanical/Biomechanical & Industrial. The afternoon session returned to the more formal podium styled presentations, where the remaining participants discussed their summer findings to a new set of judges. The last four podium categories also took place simultaneously, and consisted of the topics Mechanical & Aerospace, Electrical & Computer, Chemical, and Material Engineering.

    The day ended with a closing ceremony, where the closing keynote speaker, Professor Craig Simmons, explained about more than just his research in heart valve technology. He motivated a full room of students to pursue their interests and feed their excitement. He took a step further and even encouraged all the participants to break boundaries and explore topics outside of area of expertise, strongly promoting cross-disciplinary research.

    Awards & Winners

    The award ceremony concluded the conference, and a winner and runner up were selected in each podium and poster category (all winners can be found on the UnERD website at http://unerd.skule.ca/results/). Three overall grand winners were further selected to receive the opportunity to publish their work in the Canadian Young Scientist Journal, who was sponsoring UnERD for second year. The top three winners are as follows:

    Matthew Langley (Bioengineering Poster, 1T4): Modeling and characterization of donor cell memory in T cell progenitor-derived induced pluripotent stem cells

    Ahmed Anwer (Mechanical & Aerospace Podium, 1T6): Functionally Graded Polymeric Structures and Their Superior Impact Properties

    Mitchell Nascimento (Bioengineering Poster, 1T5): Synthesis of Antimicrobial Monomers Using the Antibiotics Ciprofloxacin and Metronidazole

    Student Opinions

    Many students seized UnERD as an opportunity to network with professors and practise their presentation skills. They felt eager to share their research efforts with other students and receive feedback on their research objectives. More importantly, students learned from their peers and gained knowledge of the other research that’s been happening within the engineering faculty. A few students expressed their impression of UnERD as follows:

    Martin Leung (Electrical, Computer & Bioelectrical Poster):

    UnERD was a great chance to meet scientifically oriented individuals like me and learn more about research being done around the university. It felt rewarding to just be able to talk about my summer’s work as a whole and feel accomplished having done this research. It was also a great chance to improve my presentation skills. If I do research again next year, I will be sure to participate in UnERD as well.

    Amreen Poonawala (Industrial Podium):

    UnERD was truly a great opportunity for me to showcase my research project. As a first time undergraduate researcher, I really learned much more intricate details when the opportunity of presenting my project was given to me. Presenting in front of highly accomplished judges was truly an honor. The guest speakers were so inspiring and encouraging. Overall, the conference setting was very neat and organized. UnERD and CYSJ have further motivated me to continue with my project during this upcoming academic year – something which I had not even anticipated at the beginning of the summer

    Overall, UnERD is a great way for attendees to explore current research in a variety of fields, especially because due diligence and hard work are clearly seen in all presentations. Get ready to be surprised by the level of professionalism and the depth of technical knowledge students have to offer at UnERD 2015, next year in mid-August.

    By: Kattren Wilfred

    Photo Courtesy of: Sherri Cui

  • Essential Apps and Gadgets


    The transition to university can be difficult. Here are some tools that will make the path a bit smoother.

    Wolfram Alpha

    This will become your best friend, as this online computational software is no normal calculator. It can solve complex calculus problems, and is a great tool for checking your answers. However, be careful not to get too dependent on the software, because you’ll find yourself extremely lost during exams. You can also use Wolfram to answer critical life questions; “am I drunk?” should prove a useful one. Ask it to plot a Pokémon curve. Try to find the hidden easter eggs in between plugging in derivatives and integrals.

    Note: For linear algebra, a number of matrix calculators are also available on the internet.


    Not all problems are created equal. Questions on exams are often entirely different than the ones given in class and homework. To truly get an idea of what your test will look like, you need to do the past exams. Courses.skule.ca has a large library of past tests and quizzes from all your courses, separated by discipline end year, for your practising pleasure.


    This app is designed to help you locate available computers and printers in the Engineering Computer Facility (ECF) labs. Engineering students tend to take full advantage of the 900 page printing quota provided each semester, often printing out booklets of notes or textbooks. Use Citoprint when you need to find a printer that’s not backlogged a hundred pages.

    Organization Apps

    Course loads in university can feel like a juggling act. If everything’s starting to blur together, use an organizer to keep all the assignments, deadlines and exam dates straight so you don’t drop the ball. Popular to-do list apps include Todoist and Wunderlist, which sync across your devices. If you want simplicity, ColorNote offers a word pad function and a sticky note widget – organized by colour, of course. Google Calendar is a classic choice for reminders and events, although Sunrise, a new app that’s more visually appealing, is worth checking out too.


    As first-years your timetables are set, but come electives selection, keep this site in mind. Enter a course code and you’ll see all the sections that are offered, which ones conflict with your existing courses, and which are in free timeslots. Plug courses into your timetable and build your ideal schedule. Even in first year, some of you will eventually want to attend a different lecture than your own – for a better prof, or merely for some extra shut-eye in the morning.


    If citations aren’t your strong point and IEEE is making your head spin, try Zotero. It’s available as a browser plug-in, and collects and cites your references. It can be inaccurate occasionally though, so beware. This is by no means an exhaustive or definitive list of useful technology, but hopefully it will serve you well. Good luck frosh! Don’t forget to have some fun, too.

    Jenny Deng

Skip to toolbar