Engineering Our Way Through a Pandemic: How Waterloo Engineers are Finding SolutionsExport this event to calendar

Thursday, August 13, 2020 — 1:00 PM EDT


Engineering Our Way Through a Pandemic: How Waterloo Engineers are Finding Solutions

In a worldwide race to find solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic, Waterloo Engineering professors and alumni are working on engineering a variety of unique solutions. Join us for this virtual webinar to learn about vaccine development and the complexities involved, portable and rapid diagnostic testing, and innovative ways of using imaging for screening and diagnosis.

The audience will have an opportunity to ask questions of the panel of experts.

A Zoom link will be sent to those who register for this session.

Watch the full recording of the session:



Professor Mary A. Wells
Dean, Faculty of Engineering


Panel Speakers:

Marc Aucoin

Marc Aucoin (BASc 2000, Chemical Engineering; MASc 2003, Chemical Engineering), PhD
Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering

Marc Aucoin is a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering. He specializes in Biochemical Engineering, particularly in cell culture engineering for the production of complex biologics: from proteins (projects have included work on myristoylated proteins, antibodies and other immune-system related proteins), to DNA, to virus-like particles, viruses and viral vectors. Professor Aucoin’s research work makes use of several cell culture platforms including insect (Sf9, Hi5) and mammalian cells (CHO, Vero). One aspect of Prof. Aucoin's work involves the use of 1D-1H NMR for optimizing cell culture processes. Through his work with viruses, Prof. Aucoin has also gained an interest in examine the stability of virus in complex solutions including cell culture media. This has led to collaborations with industry in the area of virus inactivation and virus control. Currently, he is working on a multidisciplinary team focused on developing a DNA-based vaccine for COVID-19. The vaccine would be delivered using a nasal spray and serve as a therapeutic as well as stimulating the body to build immunity to COVID-19.

Ryan Denomme

Ryan Denomme (BASc 2010, Nanotechnology; MASc 2012, Mechanical)
Founder and CEO, Nicoya Lifesciences

Ryan Denomme graduated from Nanotechnology Engineering in 2010, earning the Sandford Fleming Award for Academic Excellence. He went on to complete his Masters in Mechanical Engineering also from the University of Waterloo, earning numerous awards including the NSERC Alexander Graham Bell Scholarship and the WIN Nanofellowship. His thesis focused on developing optical biosensors using nanomaterials, which ultimately became the foundation for his startup company, Nicoya. Ryan founded Nicoya while finishing his Masters in 2012, with the mission to improve human life by helping scientists succeed. Nicoya is a worldwide leading provider of advanced analytical instruments that help scientists better understand diseases and develop drugs to treat them. As CEO, Ryan has led Nicoya to incredible growth in a short period of time, with over 70 employees, over $25M in public and private financing, and hundreds of customers in over 20 countries. Currently, Ryan and his team are focusing their work on developing a portable diagnostic test for COVID-19 which has received support through government funding. A single-use, disposable device, Atlas is being developed to detect infection by testing for viral proteins and uses smartphone technology to quickly deliver lab-quality results.


Sheldon Fernandez (BASc 2001, Computer Engineering)
CEO, DarwinAI

Sheldon Fernandez is the CEO of DarwinAI, a local venture commercializing IP from Professor Alexander Wong and his academic team. Darwin’s unique technology facilities edge and explainable AI and is being leveraged in numerous industries including autonomous vehicles, consumer electronics, and aerospace. Currently, his work focuses on the innovation of COVIDNet-CT: a new neural network to detect COVID-19 by means of Computed Tomography (CT) scans. Throughout his career, Sheldon has coupled his entrepreneurial endeavors with non-technical pursuits, resulting in an interdisciplinary approach that is critical to the intelligent application of AI. He received the University of Waterloo's Faculty of Engineering Young Alumni Achievement Medal for his professional and humanitarian endeavors and has substantial experience in this area, having spent time on the ground in Kenya after the country’s tumultuous election in 2007. He also obtained a Master’s degree in theology at the University of Toronto and underwent professional training at the Montreal Institute for Genocide Studies at Concordia University.

Future sessions for the ALUMNI SPEAKER SERIES:

Post-COVID-19 Economy: Economic Outlook for Canada Post-Covid-19

Date: September 26, 2020
Time: 1:00 pm

Speaker: Larry Smith (BA 1968, MA 1975), Professor, Economics 


Converting Crisis to Opportunity

Date: October 29, 2020
Time: 1:00 pm

Moderator: Christopher Holt, Associate Director, Conrad School of Entrepreneurship and Business, University of Waterloo

  • Andrew D'Souza (BASc 2008, Systems Design Engineering), Co-Founder and CEO, Clearbanc
  • Paul Maiero (MBET 2010, Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology), Business Agility Leader, Deloitte Canada
  • Nina Sodhi (BASc 1999, Electrical Engineering), COO, MediQuire


Rise of the Robots in a Post-Pandemic World

Date: November 24, 2020
Time: 1:00 pm

Moderator: William Melek, Professor, Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering

  • Kerstin Dautenhahn, Professor and Canada 150 Research Chair in Intelligent Robotics, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Joel Blit (MASc 1999, Computer Engineering), Professor, Department of Economics
  • Pablo Molina (BASc 2011, Mechatronics Engineering), Chairman, CTO, VP of Product & Co-founder, Avidbots