Celebrating outstanding co-op students during work-integrated learning month

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Diverse hands clapping for someone receiving an award plaque

By: Namish Modi (he/him) and Asia Dale (she/her)

After two years of virtual ceremonies, the Co-op Student of the Year Awards return this year with a hybrid in-person and virtual event.

The ceremony will celebrate exemplary co-op students who demonstrate the importance of work-integrated learning.

Hosted by University of Waterloo’s Co-operative and Experiential Education (CEE) unit, a global leader in co-operative education, the awards recognize the major impact students had in the workplace in 2022.

March is Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) month and an opportunity to celebrate and promote co-op and WIL programs. We will announce the Co-op Students of the Year and Problem Lab award recipients at the ceremony on March 9, 2023.

Saluting the 2022 honourable mentions

Honourable mention Term(s) Faculty Program/year
Máire Slater spring, fall 2022 Arts Masters in English Rhetoric
Emily Steiner spring 2022 Engineering Fourth-year Mechatronics Engineering
Reeya Dalpati fall 2022 Environment Fourth-year Planning
Lauren Monhemius winter, spring 2022 Environment Fourth-year Environment and Business
Mariam Omilabu spring 2022 Health Fourth-year Health Studies
Mahdi Farzad Naimi winter, spring 2022 Health Fourth-year Health Studies
Vinayak Bector fall 2022 Math Second-year Computer Science
Anthony Girmenia fall 2022 Science Third-year Physics and Astronomy

Waterloo students continue to flourish and adapt despite the continual changing circumstances in the world of work. These honourable mentions made a tremendous impact and clearly exceeded expectations. They are talent to watch in the future.


Meet the honourable mentions

Máire Slater (she/her)

Slater worked as a content developer at the Canadian Revenue Agency. During her work term, Slater learned how to effectively conduct card sorts, run tree tests, edit in HTML and basic coding. She presented at RhetCanada and won the Michael Purves-Smith Student Paper Award.

Emily Steiner (she/her)

Steiner earns recognition for a co-op term as a research and development engineering co-op at Lumafield. She investigated a trade-off in X-ray imaging and discovered a new optimal setpoint that produces at the same high quality, but three-times faster. Steiner integrated, analyzed and improved features for a critical new product.

Reeya Dalpati (she/her)

Dalpati oversaw data analysis, presentation creation, project research and support tasks during her co-op term at Left Turn Right Turn, a transit consulting firm. Dalpati automated geospatial processes, which increased efficiency for the organization.

Lauren Monhemius (she/her)

Monhemius worked as a marketing operations student at Blackberry. Monhemius designed a successful nurture email template, increasing open rates from 13 per cent to 21 per cent within the first month of release. Monhemius was appointed as the lead email marketer for a flagship event, overseeing the creation of 40 event-related email campaigns.

Mariam Omilabu (she/her)

Omilabu worked as a research assistant at the Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care (TLCPC). She created a screening tool to help physicians identify patients’ social needs. Omilabu interviewed health providers, investigated patient charts and called bereaved caregivers to get feedback.

Mahdi Farzad Naimi (he/him)

Naimi excelled as a pancreatic medical research assistant for the University Health Network, becoming the first undergraduate student in his lab to develop surgical and anesthesia skills to advance pancreatic cancer research. Naimi also gained expertise in mouse orthotopic surgeries while utilizing sterile techniques to study the genetic mutations involved in tumor development.

Vinayak Bector (he/him)

Bector’s work was key in the development of five mobile applications, the creation of two technical reports and the implementation of various bash scripts during his co-op term as an android mobile application developer at RouteThis Inc. During his work term, Bector proposed a new feature for flagship software development kits and pitched the idea to the organization’s director of product management.

Anthony Girmenia (he/him)

Girmenia worked as a research assistant at the University of Western Ontario’s Earth and Science Exploration department. After only 10 weeks in his role, he completed the first draft of a paper outlining the details of a computer simulation. Girmenia diagnosed and fixed bugs and created a data algorithm that boosts processing speed by more than 300 per cent.

Recognizing Problem Lab recipients

CEE also recognizes the power of problem analysis with the Problem Lab recipients. The Problem Lab identifies and understands innovations to important problems of economic and social significance. There are six recipients.

Problem Lab recipient Term Faculty Program/year
Yucheng Cao fall 2022 Arts Third-year Accounting and Financial Management
Sabeeh Malik spring 2022 Engineering Third-year Computer Engineering
Sohail Sayed winter 2022 Engineering First-year Systems Design Engineering
Teresa Diamante Marotta spring 2022 Engineering Third-year Biomedical Engineering
Mathushan Thilakanathan fall 2022 Environment Fourth-year Urban Planning
Lauren Corke winter 2022 Health Fourth-year Health Studies

Meet the Problem Lab recipients

Yucheng (Tony) Cao (he/him)

Cao worked at the Royal Bank of Canada to help resolve “not verified issues”. These are issues raised and sent to internal auditors who have yet to verify and formally close the issue. He noticed a backlog of unverified issues, which caused delays and unmonitored progress in control and could potentially lead to monetary loss.

Sabeeh Malik (he/him)

For Arctic Wolf Networks, Malik identified reliability and sustainability issues with cloud-based software infrastructures in modern organizations. Malik improved the performance of high-load services, contributed to a real-time threat analysis pipeline and an external vulnerability scanning system.

Sohail Sayed (he/him)

At Intelliculture, a farm management software organization, Sayed noticed that each year 11 per cent of maize harvested in China is wasted due to pest and fungus infestations caused by poor on-farm storage. Sayed helped build a plan to implement a supply chain of hermetic bags to reduce this issue.

Teresa Diamante Marotta (she/her)

During her work term at Cosm Medical, Marotta noticed a problem with the use of trial-and-error method to fitting pessaries, a treatment for pelvic organ prolapses. Moratta recognized that patients miss treatment when using this method, which results in healthcare providers struggling to schedule multiple fitting appointments.

Mathushan Thilakanathan (he/him)

During his term at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Thilakanathan recognized that globalization resulted in the concentration of critical mineral production and refinement within a singular geographic location in China. He discovered that resilience within critical mineral supply chains must increase to provide stability while avoiding geopolitical risks in an ever-evolving political environment.

Lauren Corke (she/her)

Corke conducted an analysis of the temporary closure of breast cancer screening programs at BC Cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the suspension of services, patients might present at later stages of the disease than they did at their initial diagnosis.