Undergraduate Students profiles

Undergraduate Student, Civil Engineering Sarah Legg

Sarah Legg

Undergraduate Student, Civil Engineering

During a conversation with a friend a few years ago, Sarah Legg had a revelation. The tag on her clothes read “Made in Cambodia.” She ate food grown in the U.S. And the building materials she used in class? She questioned where they actually came from.

“Every action has an impact somewhere else. As engineers, we are working in fields that are connected through policy and materials,” the fourth-year civil engineering student understands now.

Undergraduate student, Mechanical Engineering Lydia Lane-Smith

Lydia Lane-Smith

Undergraduate student, Mechanical Engineering

Lydia Lane-Smith knows a lot about self-discipline and achieving goals. She recently completed the Royal Conservatory’s piano curriculum and earned a black belt in mixed-martial arts karate. Along the way, Lydia has made both activities part of her lifestyle. “Karate has been really good for me,” she explains. “It helps me relax and de-stress. And piano is part of who I am and how I express myself.”

Genevieve LeBlanc

Undergraduate student, Chemical Engineering

Genevieve has fought Red Death and won. The battlefield was the Shell Refinery in Fort Saskatchewan, where Genevieve spent several co-op work terms. Her weapons were intelligence, initiative and hard work.

During the process that turns crude oil into gasoline, the crude goes through a hydrocracker to break it down. When some of the molecules are too large, they produce a red, waxy, equipment-damaging build-up known as Red Death. Genevieve’s task was to find out how much of the waste stream could be cycled back through the process before Red Death started to foul things up.

Undergraduate student, Geological Engineering Neil de Laplante

Neil de Laplante

Undergraduate student, Geological Engineering

“As a kid my favourite toy was the globe,” says geological engineering student Neil de Laplante. “I’ve always been drawn to the empty places on the map.”

Neil followed that pull to the edge of the Sahara, where he spent three months scouting for oil in the spring of 2006. It was a co-op work term with the Ottawa-based Sander Geophysics Limited (SGL), a company that conducts surveys for petroleum and mineral exploration using airplanes and helicopters. 

Undergraduate student, Systems Design Engineering Catherine Denis

Catherine Denis

Undergraduate student, Systems Design Engineering

They say a scholarship can take you places. For Catherine Denis, a scholarship took her to another continent.

Winning the inaugural Engineers Without Borders scholarship sponsored by the Professional Engineers of Ontario allowed Catherine to spend the summer of 2006 in Mali on an EWB internship.

Catherine worked with the Micronutrient Initiative, testing different ways of fortifying flour with a vitamin and mineral powder to identify which one would work best in Mali.

Undergraduate student, Environmental Engineering Kyle Murray

Kyle Murray

Undergraduate student, Environmental Engineering

That first co-op job can be a doozy. When Kyle Murray landed his at BHP Billiton Diamonds, he had to leave his cozy Waterloo life and head north – almost 5000 kilometres north, to the EKATI diamond mine.Kyle spent his winter on the isolated tundra, 300 km northeast of Yellowknife, working in EKATI’s environment department. He assisted with a variety of field, lab, and office activities, such as extracting water samples and documenting spills.

Undergraduate student, Mechanical Engineering James Forbes

James Forbes

Undergraduate student, Mechanical Engineering

For some, a good design blossoms early.

“The day I turned 14,” mechanical engineering student James Forbes remembers, “my dad told me to go get a SIN card and a part-time job.” He spent his teenage years in a bicycle shop, taking apart hydraulic suspensions, balancing wheels, and repairing welds. “That’s what tied me into engineering, especially mechanical: the elegance of a good design.”

Undergraduate student, Systems Design Engineering Kayan Ma

Kayan Ma

Undergraduate student, Systems Design Engineering

When she was still an undergraduate, Kayan Ma — people call her Kayley — used a Hollywood-style motion-capture system to create virtual humans that can interact with simulated environments in real time. Her work could transform everything from assembly line design to telemedicine.

On her co-op terms at the National Research Council’s Virtual Environment Technologies Centre, and later as a leader of a fourth-year design team, Kayley worked with a multi-camera, large-volume motion-capture system, familiar to many as the system that animated Gollum and King Kong.

Undergraduate student, Computer Engineering Sonya Konzak

Sonya Konzak

Undergraduate student, Computer Engineering

Most of the children in rural Ghana don’t speak much English. One phrase they do know: digital divide. Undergraduate computer engineering student Sonya Konzak spent four months there in the summer of 2004, helping to bridge that gap.At home in Waterloo, Sonya served as president of the University of Waterloo chapter of Engineers Without Borders, an international development organization that promotes human development through access to technology. Every year, EWB sends student volunteers on internships abroad.

Undergraduate student, Chemical Engineering Mailiis Metsis

Mailiis Metsis

Undergraduate student, Chemical Engineering

Mailiis Metsis is a chemical engineering student who’s just finished up a couple of co-op terms in the research and development laboratory of a surprising company: Estée Lauder.

When bench chemists create new formulas for, say, lipsticks, it’s up to chemical engineers like Mailiis to develop the manufacturing processes. What looks simple in a beaker may be difficult on the factory floor.

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