Co-op Student of the Year Award

Every year, CECA honours six co-op students, one from each faculty, for their work term accomplishments. These students have it all:  outstanding contributions to their employers, excellent academic records, and active involvement in their school and community.  This year there were over 140 deserving nominees. After much deliberation, the winners were chosen. . .

And the 2011 Co-op Student of the Year Award goes to...

Sasanka Nagavalli, co-op student of the year

Faculty of Engineering

Sasanka Nagavalli - 4B Mechatronics Engineering

Sasanka’s co-op term with Neptec Design Group was the culmination of 

six outstanding work terms and a life-long interest in robotics. Neptec is a 
company which develops space-flight sensors and rovers for space agencies around the world. One of the major projects to which Sasanka contributed was the software design of a prototype 3D scanning Light Detection and Ranging sensor, which sits atop a prototype Lunar Rover and creates 3D models for mapping and navigational purposes. In only his second week on the job, Sasanka presented his preliminary design for the Ground Station software to the Canadian Space Agency. He went on to identify and implement several major improvements to the design process at Neptec.  On campus, Sasanka is heavily involved with the UW Space Robotics Group.

Mei Chen, co-op student of the year

Faculty of Arts

​Mei Chen - Masters of Accounting 

On her work term with IBM Canada, Mei exceeded expectations with both the size of workload and quality of work that she produced. She completed 30% of the IBM Canada tax return and 80% of IBM’s alliance companies’ tax returns, consistently producing accurate and polished reports. Recognizing her talent for tax, Mei’s manager invited her to sit on the due diligence team for the aquisition of Algorithmics Inc. by IBM, valued at $387 million. Mei worked alongside a group of top industry professionals to 
assess the transaction and identify any potential problems. On her work term, Mei also conducted research on the tax implications of business transactions and presented her findings to key business units within IBM.  On campus, Mei volunteers with the Academic Coaching Centre and was formerly a peer leader for the AFM Living Learning community. She is also active in the community, as a volunteer with the YWCA. 

Samantha Lynne Dupre, co-op student of the year

Faculty of Environment

Samantha Lynne Dupré - 4B Environment and Resource Studies

While working with the International Joint Commission, Samantha conducted extensive research on the monitoring efforts of aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes. She collected data from experts and government officials in Ontario, Quebec, and 8 U.S. states to inform the report and travelled to Wisconsin to present her initial research at the Great Lakes Aquatic Nuisance Species panel. Using GIS software to map her findings, she created a high-calibre report under tight time constraints and thousands of dollars under budget. She also took the lead in drafting the IJC’s final Aquatic Invasive Species workgroup report, summarizing all the IJC’s research projects and recommendations. This will inform future aquatic invasive species monitoring efforts by the Canadian and U.S. governments.  During her school terms, Samantha is a member of the ballroom dancing club and teaches ballet.

Janet Nguyen, co-op student of the year

Faculty of Science

​Janet Nguyen - 4B Biology 

Janet has spent her past five work terms in the Rapid Response Radiotherapy Program at the Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Centre. Janet conducted research which indicated that a large proportion of patients do not receive adequate prevention of radiation-induced nausea and vomiting. To address this, she conducted research on more efficacious anti-emetic drugs, and successfully secured a grant of $0.3 million for a pilot clinical trial. Following this, Janet identified another area for improvement in the quality of life of palliative patients, and drafted a grant proposal and study protocol for a pilot clinical trial that received $50,000 in funding. Janet has presented her research at conferences from Vancouver to Athens and was a speaker at a Bone Metastases Workshop with over 500 attendees. She is the editor-in-chief of a bone metastases handbook which is used by oncology professionals around the world and first-author of eight publications in peer reviewed journals. In her most recent term, Janet mentored new students in the writing of their own first manuscripts.

Christina Marchand, co-op student of the year

Faculty of Applied Health Sciences

Christina Marchand -  3A Health Studies

Christina served as project manager of two major initiatives at St. Michael’s Hospital on her past work term. She was heavily involved with promoting Women in Cancer, a not-for-profit organization which seeks to improve the networking and leadership skills of female oncologists. Through presentations, publications, and a large marketing event, Christina increased membership in the organization by over 30%, while saving her employers $15,000.  Christina was also instrumental in the launch of the COMET Clinical Trials Consortium, a virtual network which links medical oncologists across the Greater Toronto Area with the goal of improving patients’ access to current cancer clinical trials.  She updated the efficiency of the website and met personally with clinical trials staff at various hospitals to ensure their participation. Additionally, Christina travelled to Texas to present two research papers at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. While working at St. Michaels, Christina volunteered as a mentor to children battling cancer.  

Terrence Chin, co-op student of the year

Faculty of Mathematics

Terrence Chin - 3B Actuarial Science, Finance Option

On his work term with Mercer, Terrence skillfully completed his duties as actuarial analyst while undertaking several additional projects. He assisted with the implementation of a national employee benefit plan for a large not-for-profit organization, co-ordinating the efforts of six consultants across Canada to create a comparison of proposals from eight different insurers. He also worked alongside two Principals to analyze the benefits plan of a large public utilities corporation. His communication skills served him well during the presentation of this review, as he was able to explain a difficult concept to the client in easily understandable terms. The review was successful in winning new business for Mercer. Terrence also updated the Drug Utilization Tool which is used by Mercer to rank the top 200 drugs used on a particular plan. On campus, Terrence has been heavily involved with the UW Actuarial Science Club. He also represents uWaterloo on the editorial board of the Future Actuary newsletter.

Honourable Mentions were awarded to: 

  • Kaitlin Koo - 3B Health Studies for her work term with Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Center
  • Evgeny Shulyatyev - 4A Computer Science for his work term with Barclays Capital
  • Nathan Jones - 4B Nanotechnology Engineering for his work term with Ecosynthetix Inc.
  • Sameer Shah - 4B Environment and Resource Studies for his work term with MK Ince and Associates