• Philanthropy – a hidden program at Skule

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    Engineering has managed to become a core component to the development of the modern world. We build the software behind the smart phones that rules generation Y, the tall skyscrapers populating cities – some that will go up as high as a kilometer in the year 2020 (With Dubai leading the way). We’re taught to see the world as it is: in a logical and systematic manner. And then, naturally the next step we take after analyzing the world around us is asking what can be done to improve it.

    However, if you look around us, nearly half of the world’s population of 7 billion people live in poverty. On our tiny planet, the world’s supercomputers get more powerful every year, we get thinner iPhones every now and then, and several multi-billion dollar companies are now built off of our collective ADHDs. Yet people’s houses are getting smaller, their plates bearing less and less, and approximately 22 thousand children dying every day. That’s an entire town of innocent humans being wiped out by the time you go to bed tonight. Now I don’t want to be a ‘Debbie Downer’ here, but there’s something wrong with this picture. We’re obviously getting smarter, but why aren’t we getting better as a species? Here at UofT, I think it’s safe to say that we’re doing a great job at starting to get to the root of that answer and then doing something about it.

    Over the past 8 months, I had the incredible opportunity to work with ILEAD (The Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering) on a complex-problem solving program called the GAME which isn’t the kind of problem you would find in textbooks or exams but the kind you would see in the plight of a homeless person on the streets of Toronto. Every group that participated in the GAME found complex problems they wanted to try and solve. Throughout the program, a few key ideologies and methodologies were taught to the group of very talented and driven engineers.

    First of all, we learned the value of teamwork and how important of a role empathy plays in it. We also learned that complex problems do not have a fixed, ‘best solution’. They have the best ‘fit’ solution instead. And these issues do not get solved within days. They can take weeks, months, or even years. We learned that it’s a lot like unraveling a rubber band ball. You analyze it first to see if there are any obvious giveaways to the solution. After that you start tugging at bands that you think would unravel the most bands in one pull and you keep trying and experimenting until you’ve unraveled the ball.

    This analogy can be used to describe the general steps one can take to fix some of the biggest problems that are consuming the planet. We need people who can use math and programming to analyze a problem, find possible gaps and system loopholes, and then do something about it – even if that means getting your hands dirty with technology. We need people who will not winch at the thought of facing an incredibly complex problem, framing it as a system, breaking it into manageable functions and improving those functions for a better overall output.

    With UofT facilitating programs like ILEAD, Engineers without Borders, and the Engineering society that all promote leadership and empathy as part of the self-growth process, I think we’re doing a fine job at preparing our students to go onto become philanthropic Engineers and do their bit for the world. One such example is Michael Klassen (EngSci 0T9 + PEY), a very driven alum who works with ILEAD now as a consultant. After graduating, he went on to work with Engineers without Borders for three years, spending the majority of his time in places such as Ghana to apply his engineering skills towards the betterment of a developing country. Likewise there are dozens of engineers from UofT who went on to make a difference in the world of non-profits. As UofT continues to emphasize the importance of fostering leadership and empathy among its engineering students, we’re going to see a greater rise in philanthropic engineers among our alumni. And to be quite frank, the world needs more of them now, more than ever. Just remember, it all starts here at Skule first. So find a problem, find some friends, and start brainstorming whenever you can. Who knows what could happen!?!

  • Competitions: It is not always about winning

    In a multitude of social beings, there is no one who can declare himself/herself as the “Jack of all trades”. Skills are acquired in the process of learning. A competition is a quintessential opportunity which enables an individual to test his/her potential at a larger scale and to attain more practical experience that later helps in enhancing those acquired skills. A perfect example could be given by quoting Walt Disney “I have been up against tough competition all my life. I wouldn’t know how to get along without it” .
    Every year, various competitions are being held in the engineering faculty of the St. George campus. These Skule competitions not only provide a platform for the students to showcase their talents and skills, but also elevates their thirst to thrive.
    The following is a short list of a few popular Skule competitions:

    The University of Toronto Engineering Kompetitions (UTEK)

    It is an annual event (held in the month of January) that offers undergraduate engineering students to participate in one of six competitions from the following categories namely, Junior and Senior Design, Innovative Design, Consulting, Programming, Communication, Debate.

    It provides a platform for the students to develop their communication, design and teamwork skills. Above all it offers students an opportunity to network with professors and alumni.

    Other benefits of acing the competition include qualifying for the  Ontario Engineering Competitions (OEC) and the Canadian Engineering Competitions (CEC).

    Further details could be found in their website: http://utek.skule.ca/competitions

     

    ASME Skule Engineering Competitions 

    These competitions are held by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ (ASME) Chapter at University of Toronto.
    In the year 2014, teams from post-secondary education institutions all over Ontario were invited to participate in the following competitions:

    1) Design Competition

    2) Oral Presentation

    3) Technical Poster Design

    4) Webpage Design

    These competitions required the students to apply their skills and in return gain practical experience in design and communication.

    As of 2014, rewards of winning these competitions included cash prizes unto $400, and specially for the top placing U of T student(s) in each category a chance to get sponsored by the ASME U of T section for the consecutive rounds in the competition.

    More details about the competition could be found in this link: http://sec.skule.ca

     

    Skule’s Got Talent

    Engineers, you got talent? If yes, then this competition is for you. This is an annual talent contest where engineers at Skule get an opportunity to get involved and showcase their talents.

    The recent Skule’s Got Talent Final Show was held on April 2, 2015 in the SF Atrium.

    The photographs and link to the videos of various shows can be obtained from this website: http://sgt.skule.ca

     

    Competitions play a very important role in a student’s life, helping him/her to learn and evolve constantly. Participating in a competition is more important than winning it, as it shows their interest and desire to try out something innovative. The notion of victory is less important than the desire of being involved. Motivate yourself to compete and remember “Compare yourself only to who you were yesterday. Be your own competition”.
  • PEY Profiles: Israel Monzon Gonzalez – Toronto Hydro

    Israel Monzon Gonzalez (ECE 1T5+PEY) and is currently 10 months in his PEY at Toronto Hydro and will complete his work term by the end of August. The Cannon got in touch with him and happily share some insight of his experience so far.

    Can you tell me a little about yourself and why you choose the engineering discipline you are in right now?

    I chose engineering due to the versatility and I chose to electrical engineering specifically because it offered me the best chance to exploit my math skills. It also offered the best career prospects for me.

    Briefly describe the organization you work for in your PEY, your roles and responsibilities in the department(s) or team(s) you’re part of.

    I work for the Distribution Grid Operations department at Toronto Hydro. My primary role within the company is to review electrical schematic and detect errors as well as any violations to our construction standards and standard design protocols. I work with engineers and design technicians to ensure that designs to be implemented are good.

    What made you accept this offer of your current placement out of all other offers you received(if any)?

    It was the first offer I got so I took it.

    Were there any experiences and/or knowledge from Skule that you applied or helped you in your work?

    I have not had to apply too much other than basic principles. I’ve had to employ similar strategies though to stay organized and up to date with standards and other important literature we are exposed to.

    Do you find it challenging working with people who already have years of work experience? How is it different from working in a team project at Skule?

    They have plenty of experience with co-op students and are very good mentors. I much prefer this to school because I like learning on the fly by doing things in the real world. Having experience around you helps especially when they are more than happy to engage you and share their experiences and contacts.

    What were your initial expectations before going into your placement? How did those expectations change over the course of your work term and what were you surprised to learn about the place you worked in?

    My expectations have not changed. I still expect to learn quickly and largely through experience as I do in the beginning. I still believe I’ll be well prepared for life after school.

    What have you learned about YOURSELF, throughout this experience?

    I’ve learned that the most valuable asset I bring to the fold is efficiency. I am now known for working quickly and effectively. I also realized that the vast amount of literature you need to master is not an issue for me because I can depend on my memory. I’ve learned that while my ability to multitask is very good I can  create extra stress for myself unnecessarily if I do it in excess and hence affect my ability to truly enjoy the  experience and maximize my learning.

    Can you share any tips to our readers who are still looking for PEY placements right now?

    Apply to as many jobs as possible. If you swing often you have a better chance of hitting one out so don’t be shy about apply. The sooner or later something has to give. Remember the quality of your resume and cover letter usually trump your marks so make those as perfect as can be and sell your uniqueness and skill sets without any shame or misgivings. Make sure you show your self as poised and capable of thinking on your feet once you get to the interview. If you look like all your answers are prepackaged and rehearsed, you won’t get the job.

    More PEY profiles to come!

  • Don’t Know Where to Eat? Eat Here!

    One of the most essential, yet often the most overlooked, pieces of knowledge for a university student is that of where to get a good meal within reasonable walking distance to campus. You laugh, but we’ll see who’s laughing when you’re staring at your fifth bowl of instant noodles in two days wondering how your life got to this point. This article will seek to open the reader’s eyes to the alternatives beyond the MSG-heavy go-to’s of undergrads past.

    Quick & Filling – Veda Indian Takeout: Conveniently located in the Sandford Fleming basement, this Indian Takeout restaurant offers quick service at a reasonable price, without skimping on portion size. A small curry bowl will generally satisfy even the most starved appetites, and at just $7 (less with Flex meal plan coupons) it won’t make too much of a dent in your Flex Dollar balance. Both spicy and relatively mild curries are available, so there is really no excuse not to try Veda.

    Date Night – SIGNS Restaurant and Bar: Located to the east of the U of T campus at the intersection of Wellesley and Yonge, this restaurant offers gourmet food and a truly unique experience. Why take your date to Burger King when you could spend the night learning Sign Language and dining in style? All of the staff at SIGNS are deaf, so diners must learn how to order their food using American Sign Language – don’t worry if you aren’t familiar with ASL, because the menus feature cheat sheets and the servers will happily help you learn. While gourmet food does mean gourmet prices, this restaurant is a must-see for the intrepid undergrad.

    Cheap & Easy – Canton Chilli: This entry is for the Frosh among us (the majority of upper years are quite familiar with Canton). Located just a short walk south on Spadina, Canton Chilli is open extremely late (4AM) for both dine-in and delivery and offers some of the most affordable Chinese food a student can get (< $10, cheaper on their late-night menu). While it definitely isn’t the healthy option on this list, Canton can really hit the spot after a late night in the computer lab, or at the engineering pub, Suds, for that matter.

    All You Can Eat Meat – Korean Grillhouse: If are a meat eating enthusiast, you have to try Korean BBQ at the Korean Grillhouse restaurant. It’s a requirement. Go during their lunch pricing window and enjoy all you can eat seasoned meats, rice and assorted sides for under $15. The unique feature of this restaurant is that the diners are provided with thin slices of meat that they must cook themselves on a grill recessed into the centre of their table. They have locations at Yonge and Bloor and Yonge and Gerrard, so make a point of trying this restaurant out with some friends on a weekend.

  • Dean’s Townhall

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    The Dean’s Town got off to a rough start, but was ultimately a good showing. A double booking lead to a relocation to Sandford Flemming Basement whereupon Food was laid out in the Communication office. The event was then split into the AMA (Ask me Anything) session in the Pit with acting dean Brenda McCabe, and the academic discussion with in the communication office.

    In the pit, Students were quick to make up for lost time by asking their questions. Now that construction is underway, students were curious to know about the center for engineering and innovation, more commonly known as site 10. The plan for the space according to the dean is to create space for clubs in the lower levels. The atrium would overlook this space to showcase students at work.  Unfortunately clubs with large space and tricky ventilation requirements will be unable to use the space. Above would be interdisciplinary program space. Additionally, the option of renting out space to companies in order to incubate greater industry interaction is an option currently being looked into. EngSoc president Teresa Nguyen went on to say that the 1 million dollars donated by engineering students towards the building legally protects the space as designated for engineering specifically.

    The next question came from Brandon Li who asked what was being done for clubs beyond providing space. Dean McCabe in response said the the university hosts design competitions to showcase student ingenuity. One such competition is the Canadian National Concrete Canoe Competition that will be hosted by U of T in May. Brandon went on to say that additionally, the faculty could provide publically available data for students and clubs to tackle and make sense of real problems.

    Clement Zhou then asked about intercollege communication for resources available to students; things like printers in libraries outside of Engineering. As it stands, students are left to ‘discover’ what other faculties have to offer on campus. He was encouraged to let EngSoc know of these resources so that a list could be compiled and shared with engineering students. Barriers to collaboration between student societies and other faculties remain nonetheless.

    Gordon Tang then asked about the Engineering Career Center (ECC) portfolio and how career development will be tied into the curriculum. A representative from the ECC said that targeted 1st year workshops over the last 5 years have increased the number of students making use of their services. However Gordon said they could go further by introducing seminar lectures in the Engineering Strategies & Practices for workplace preparedness and career development in first year.

    In a similar vein, engineering student Stephanie Gaglione expressed her concern over the direction given to first year students. With opportunities to volunteer and pursue entrepreneurship, they can do better than service jobs. Brandon Li added saying that the lack of job opportunities is a reflection of the University’s inability to leverage partnerships with industry. The dean went on to say that many of these opportunities exist, though the sheer amount of information students are presented with can in a way be a barrier to communication.

    Meanwhile at the academic session students also had their say as well. Most questions were about course feedback in some form. Students want a greater variety of questions that can be asked for evaluations, hopefully to be tailored by the Professors teaching these courses. They would also like the ability to give more in-depth feedback with regards to professors and the curriculum. Similarly they would like to have the mid-term course evaluations become mandatory so as to force professor to solicit and respond to feedback from their class. With regards to TA feedback, it was suggested that an accountability mechanism be added, as currently their use is limited at best. Unfortunately they seemed to be unaware of some of the services available to them currently, as many were unaware that the Career Services Center offered academic support.

    Time was short as always, but in all both students and faculty were able to engage in meaningful discussion.

  • Start-up Hub: “Get Your Hands Dirty”

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    The energy at the MaRS Discovery District on Friday, January 30th was distinct and unique, reflecting the event’s location in the expansive start-up core. You’re Next Career Network (YNCN) Startup Hub’s Startup Career Expo 2015 buzzed with the excitement, bringing over 70 startup businesses together to share the results of their vision, determination, and risks taken over the years. There was a feeling of being somewhere up-and-coming, of being in the presence of the next big thing; and perhaps, this is accurate. As Tabish Gilani, Director of Operations at Starup Hub said: “Start-ups are cool. The whole reason we went into engineering in the first place was because there was something cool that drew us there. There was somebody who wanted to make an Iron Man suit, and there was somebody who wanted to make an Apple computer from [being inspired by] Steve Jobs. Each and every member of our team wants to get that culture to everybody at U of T. If you’re part of something cool like this, you can make a huge amount of difference.”

    The dominant theme at the Startup Career Expo was technology and its use in acquiring, analysing, and presenting data in a user-friendly way. This was to be expected, considering the constant demand for information in our day-to-day lives. From Kiwi Wearables’ fashionable, WiFi-enabled computers to QuickTapSurvey’s offline data capturing, to Apartmate’s high-quality, custom apartment and roommate-finding app, far-reaching and personalized services with an attractive interface were a common occurrence. Nevertheless each company maintained their own distinct uniqueness. “I’m going to say something that one of our platinum companies said, WeMesh [sic]. They said that they didn’t start out as a typical start-up, which is true for every start-up;” says Gilani, “There’s no set of rules or sets of guidelines for a start-up to be a start-up.” This was evident amongst the diverse mix of businesses, however, the common elements seem to be fundamental. A successful start-up requires creativity, determination, nerves, and above all else, a passion for one’s work.

    According to Gilani, companies were first contacted in September 2014. “We follow a specific guideline when we reach out to companies. We want to make sure that the companies we’re bringing in are hiring for students … We want to make sure that these companies are within our revenue model as well…” says Gilani, “We want to make sure that they realize there is an inherent benefit for them, that they’re getting access to all of this talent at U of T … We want to get the start-ups out there as well.” Marketing was, as Gilani describes, “on-point” and fundamental in drawing such a successful turnout. Attendees from all backgrounds were present, demonstrating YNCN’s wide-reach and effective advertising.

    Despite its diversity in both exhibitors and attendees, the event did not cater to everyone. Brittany Green, second-year chemical engineering student at the University of Toronto says, “It was very well-organized, but as expected, the jobs were skewed toward ECE positions.” It was also noted that not all companies were interested in hiring students as Luigi La Corte, fourth-year civil engineering student at the University of Toronto explains: “I thought the fair was well-organized but it seemed more of a start-up exposé than for job opportunities.” Although the event may not have delivered the job-search opportunity that was anticipated by students, La Corte continues, “…as a bystander I preferred it [the Startup Expo] over typical job fairs … It left me excited over the prospect of being in an ambiguous role to help them [the company] grow.”

    Ultimately, this is what Startup Hub hopes for: to increase and spread the start-up culture at the University of Toronto. Gilani advises, “Make sure you’re looking to come to our events with a very open mindset about trying to kind of absorb as much of the knowledge that you’re being given, because again, no start-up is a typical start-up. The amount of experience, knowledge, and diversity that all of our events is bringing is immense. Getting students to come to our events with an open mindset and research the companies, research what the industry is like, research what opportunities are there… you are able to learn so much. You get your hands messy in so many aspects of the company which is great because you’re able to grow so much professionally and even personally.”

    Check out what YNCN is up to, and what events are coming up next, at http://www.yourenext.ca/#.

    Anne Nasato

    Writer

  • Your’e Next Career Network’s 2015 Fair

    <img width="580" height="386" src="http://cannon.skule.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/DSC_0326-1024x682.jpg" class="attachment-large wp-post-image" alt="DSC_0326" /> Large crowds of sharply dressed students walking towards a common destination usually mean one of two things, that there is a) a party somewhere, or b) somebody looking to hire students (aka a chance for poor students to get paid). The latter was the case on January 16th. The Your'e Next Career Network (YNCN) opened its doors to the Your'e Next Career Fair 2015 for its fifth year, and gave students the opportunity to further their careers. A large fair such as this one provides individuals all across UofT’s student spectrum with varied experiences and opportunities. As one of the largest fairs YNCN has ever held to date, with over 80 companies, graduate schools, and career-oriented organizations, students flooded the Exam Centre on McCaul Street throughout the Career Fair’s operating hours. Companies from many of the major industries were represented at the fair, including: consulting, civil engineering, energy, finance, non-profit, technology, and manufacturing industries. Featured organizations included: Deloitte, The Miller Group, Shell, Toronto Hydro, Capital One, Altera, Laserfiche, SAP Canada, Home Depot, Unilever and more. The Career Fair was met with traffic from hundreds of students as they lined up at the array of company booths, seeking answers to their company-related questions, or to ask about employment opportunities. With more companies present than in any year previous, and the same amount of space at the Exam Centre, students and employers alike were in cramped positions for most of the day, foregoing personal space as lines formed and blocked the space that people would have otherwise used to travel around the Fair. Despite the lack of space and rising temperatures, a glance at the various happenings at the booths seemed to indicate success for both parties. Companies had piles of resumes with tired but content looking representatives, as well as dwindling company merchandise that students happily claimed. Additionally, students had their questions answered, with their resumes in the hands of companies that were all too happy to accept them, and had the chance to refine their networking skills all the while carrying a pile of free merchandise back with them. Having asked a sample of students, they have mixed opinions about career fairs; some claim that finding a job at one is a rare occurrence, while others swear by their results. However, what’s most important is finding what works for you, and what you’re comfortable with. Well organized career fairs such as the Your'e Next Career Fair provide students with a centralized location to meet dozens of employers, as well as the priceless opportunity to network and practice speaking with professionals. The Your'e Next Career Network continues to execute successfully events that greatly benefit the student body. If you missed out on the career fair this year, don’t worry! There will be another one next year, giving you plenty of time to prepare and practice before then! Good luck! Polly Lin Student Life Section Editor Photo credit: Grace Kumagai
  • The Interview: Why Did You (or Did You Not) Drop out of Engineering Science?

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    No, there’s no Seth Rogen here, but what we will be doing is giving you an EngSci’s perspective in the matters of transferring out (or more colloquially, “dropping out”).

    Below is a transcript of an interview of three different students. By the request of the interviewees, their names will be kept anonymous and only initials given. Two of the interviewees are still in the Engineering Science program (A.S. and S.R. – 1T7 and 1T8 respectively) and one who has transferred out to MSE (M.M. – 1T7)

     

    For those that are staying…

    Q. Why did you come to Engineering Science? What were your dreams and aspirations at the time?

    A.S.: Because EngSci had the highest requirement (GPA-wise). It sounded like a really “legit” program. I wanted the challenge and I wanted to be among the top students.

    S.R.: I chose Engineering Science because of the biomed option. My dream was to be a drug designer and to find out the mechanism of herbal medicine and apply the holistic herbal remedy to the existing, western way of drug designing.

     

    Q. How did you feel during your first few days of Engineering Science? What were your hopes and fears?

    A.S.: My first class was CIV102. I was thinking about how great my professor was and how great my peers were. Everybody was really nice. I hoped to not get kicked out. My fear was being kicked out.

    S.R.: I felt really overwhelmed because there were a lot of rumours about grades. My hope was not to fail out, and my fear was failing out.

     

    Q. What were favourite and least favourite subjects in Engineering Science?

    A.S.: My favourite subject was MAT 194 because I felt like it was one of the easier courses and I was happy about my mark. I also really liked the professor teaching it.  I liked most of the courses but I didn’t like ESC103. I didn’t think it was very interesting and I didn’t like MATLAB.

    S.R.: My favourite subjects were ESC103 and MAT194, and my least favourites were CSC180 and PHY180

     

    Q. Do you think you did your best? That you worked to your full potential?

    A.S.: I did my best at that time. But I can’t say I worked to my full potential because I didn’t know what my full potential was. I still don’t. Plus I didn’t get enough sleep that year and I played video games during exam season. So yeah, no.

    S.R.: No. I couldn’t pull out my full potential this semester. Hope I can do better next semester.

     

    Q. Describe a model Engineering Science student and how you were different from the model.

    A.S.: Someone who knows how to manage his or her time. Who can party a lot but at the same time get a decent mark. Oh yeah, and he or she has to be nice to others. Not super arrogant like some people. I was different from the model because I am not very good at managing my time and my marks were low. And I’m not nice to everyone.

    S.R.: An ideal EngSci student would be someone who can balance their social life with their academics. I couldn’t manage to do that this semester.

     

    Q. Do you think Engineering Science might break you someday? Do you think it’s making you stronger or weaker?

    A.S.: When I first came to EngSci, my goal wasn’t to be the best, I wanted to pass. I don’t think EngSci can break me if I do this. I definitely think EngSci has made me stronger. After my first semester, I felt stronger and smarter. Definitely not as stupid as I thought. After my second semester I felt like if I did well in Praxis 2 then I’ll be fine. But I didn’t feel as smart as I did after the first. After my first semester of second year, I got way too much pressure. I definitely felt a bit weaker. But I still have my friends and peers so I’m good.

    A.S.: I think EngSci will make me stronger because it’s the program which pushes students to their limits and encourages them to learn faster and faster.

     

    Q. What’s your overall feeling about Engineering Science? Any advice for future Engineering Science students?

    A.S.: EngSci is great. I made good friends and I am really happy. I don’t regret it even though it’s a lot of pressure. My advice for future EngScis is to make friends, manage your time, party hard, and try to pass everything.

    S.R.: Overall, I admit that it is a very challenging and overwhelming program. After my first semester, however, I do not regret my decision to come to EngSci because I met a lot of great people here. As for the advice for future EngScis, I want to say that EngSci is more about finding who you are, so it’s good to try to do different things and enjoy university life when you have time instead of being a grade-grubbing student without any life.

     

    For Those Leaving

    Q. Why did you start with Engineering Science? What were your dreams and aspirations?

    M.M.: I wanted to do biomedical so I went to the most direct option. Also, if I changed my mind, I could transfer easily. The streams appealed to me more than the Core 8 ones and I had more time to choose my major.

     

    Q. How did you feel when you first walked in?

    M.M.: My biggest fear was that I would go from the top to the bottom. And it happened too quickly. I hoped that I would be able to overcome all the rumours about EngSci like the sleepless nights and the extreme loss of self-confidence. I really hoped to be the best of the best.

     

    Q. How about when you walked out?

    M.M.: One of my fears was that maybe I wouldn’t like the new program. Or that I would regret transferring. I hoped to be able to start anew, to be able to make my mark at U of T. I also wanted to raise my GPA.

     

    Q. Do you think you did your best? Do you think you would have stayed if you worked harder or if the outcome was different?

    M.M.: Definitely. If I did better in my courses than I did, then I would have stayed. But I’m glad I didn’t. I felt like I wouldn’t have liked EngSci anyway. And about whether I did my best, well, I did my best at the time. My best now has changed by quite a bit since then. The subjects I struggled with the most were the ones I neglected the most, and doing badly just made me neglect them more. I definitely feel like I shouldn’t have done that.

     

    Q. Would you say that Engineering Science made you weaker or stronger?

    M.M.: It made me stronger because it humbled me. It made me go from thinking that I was better than average to thinking that I wasn’t really all that. I realized that there was more that I needed to learn, more work to do and more maturity to be developed within me.

     

    Q. Did you benefit from Engineering Science? Do you feel like you would’ve saved time if you never came at all?

    M.M.: I’m glad I came because I realized that I have weaknesses, and I learned to accept those weaknesses in EngSci.

     

    Q. What did you love the most and hate the most about Engineering Science?

    M.M.: I didn’t like that Engineering Science was research-based and extremely theoretical. I don’t like proofs and I don’t like symbols; I like numbers.  What I love about EngSci is how tough it really is. It’s a big reward to get through it. The tougher the challenge, the more it builds character.

     

    Q. Any advice for future Engineering Science students?

    M.M.: When you’re in it, always ask yourself frequently why you’re in it. Are you in it because you want to be considered “elite” or are you doing it because you love it? Make sure you love it.

    Vyshnavi Kommu

    Writer

  • Letter from the Editor

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    When someone says “The Cannon”, what comes to mind? An eclectic sampling of student writings? Factual, boring, stuffy?  While we might be the more serious of the two newspapers Skule has, describing us as boring couldn’t be further from the truth. Past editors have taken it in many different directions, whether it be a factual report of current events, student opinions and shorts stories, entertainment reviews and the like. But what service does The Cannon really provide for the students?

    In its inception in 1978, The Cannon was started when the Toike veered into comedy and satire. The founders sought to bring back a platform for academic discussion among peers and create a space for intelligent discourse in the field of engineering. In fact the first issue was almost entirely devoted to the Pickering Nuclear Facility, which was a new development at the time.

    Decades passed and the newspaper became more casual in tone, and more concerned with student happenings than academic advancements. This made the newspaper more relatable, more current. F!rosh week, Cannonball and other Skule traditions were all noted down neatly and reported to the student body. But as time went by, The Cannon became focused on arts and entertainment. We’ve now gone where the readers are—online. But even so, current events and entertainment are widely accessible on the internet. Even campus events are largely covered by other student newspapers. With so many changes in leadership and conflicting visions, what defines The Cannon?

    The purpose of The Cannon should first and foremost be to serve the engineering student body. We do this by providing news about engineering events, EngSoc updates and giving a voice to your opinions about Skule. The founders of The Cannon had it right when they first started out, and that’s what I’d like to bring it back to: a platform for intelligent discussion among peers. In a community so imbued with tradition and honour, there is definitely honour is serving students as a reliable source of news and intellectual discourse.

    Sarita Chiu

    Editor in Chief

  • Meet Menyou and Get What You Want, Any Way You Want It

    Menyou & Ara

    Imagine walking into a hotel or restaurant after a long day of classes or work. You’re tired and hungry. Your only goal is to get food, which you want to do quickly. Now, imagine waiting at a table for service where you must make  polite small talk before finally being asked to give your order. You wait for your food to come, only to find out that the pasta has shrimp, a fact you missed when ordering in a hurry. This would be fine if you weren’t allergic to seafood.

    Now go back and reimagine the scenario. However, this time do it with with Menyou and make your dining experience “any way you want [it]”.

    Instead of waiting at a table for service, you simply open the mobile app, which automatically opens using low energy Bluetooth. You can see the menu,  filtered to meet your preferences and needs, which includes nutritional advice and pictures of each dish. Once you have selected a dish, you’re provided alerts regarding allergy-related ingredients and recommendations for food-beverage pairings. After your meal, you click “pay”, receive confirmation, and head out the door. Post confirmation, you can rate both the dish and service you received. Anytime throughout the process, you can indicate you need assistance through the app interface.

    The interface is great for you as a customer; you can quickly select what you want to eat and the information you receive through an interactive app that allows feedback at every step. The app has also helped businesses  meet your and other customers’ needs in a simpler, more organized fashion. That’s the key idea behind Menyou: an innovative app aimed to enhance customers’ dining experiences and improve the business structures of hotels and restaurants.

    The concept behind the company took seed in an Indian restaurant in Malaysia, but really took off when Ara Ehamparam and his business partner formed a partnership with dine.TO. Since then, they  have received the AIR MILES® Innovation of the Year award in February of 2014 and been featured by The Toronto Star and CTV.

    Born into a family of entrepreneurs, it seems only appropriate that Ara would begin a consulting business with a fellow classmate early in his educational career. After struggling to get Polaris, his initial idea, off the ground, Ara decided it may be time to go back to the drawing board: “We made a lot of mistakes in terms of the structuring of the company”. Only in their second year of an ECE undergrad degree, Ara and his co-partners found that they still had some things to learn. Deciding to keep moving forward with the entrepreneurial dream, Ara opted for a formal business education and graduated in 2010 from UofT’s Jeffrey Skoll MBA program for engineering students. Throughout, he took charge of his education, actively seeking to gain experiences and to learn from his professors and peers.

    Approaching Menyou from a design perspective, the software was prototyped and tested with different groups of people. With the continuous feedback, new ideas were generated, and Menyou went from a simple idea of increasing customer control in their dining experiences to an expanding business that provides an innovative approach to customer interaction,  a new advertising platform, and optional consulting & analysis services for companies. The number of add-in applications supported by the system has also increased, now including access to newspapers and open-source games. Ara found that the key experience of operating the business focused on interacting with the customers and other professionals. “You do a lot of learning [in the Skoll program], but you mainly learn from others. [You should] always be learning.”

    Passionate about food and a life-long learner, Ara is eager to see where the company can go. The dedicated team behind Menyou is ready to move from their comfortable position and step into new waters by growing the company through private investments, building a sales team, and moving into the broader international market.

    “Finding the right partnerships; channels. Product development is another big challenge. Marketing. We don’t know if we want to just focus on just Canada. Just things like that. We need to find the right people: someone who’s done this before. So finding people who have [the] wisdom that we don’t is a challenge.”

    No new venture is without its challenges, something Ara knows very well. However, he is optimistic that the company is in the right place at the right time, ready to meet and overcome any obstacles head on.

    Ara’s advice to striving entrepreneurs? Don’t be shy, don’t hesitate, and be passionate about your idea. Let the market and the users tell you where to go. “What you start off with is not usually what you’ll end up with. If you have an idea, just get the ball rolling.”

    Rabab Haider

    Writer

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