WIN's inaugural Summer School attracted outstanding students from across Canada

Monday, July 24, 2023

Group picture of staff and students during the award ceremony, students holding up their certificates.

WIN Summer School on Sustainable Nanotechnology 2023

In June 2023, WIN hosted its first Summer School in Nanotechnology and invited outstanding undergraduate students in STEM from across the country to visit WIN and learn about the cutting-edge research conducted by our WIN members.

From 19-21 June 2023, exceptional students from McGill University and Memorial University of Newfoundland were welcomed to campus, where an action-filled agenda included technical talks in the four theme areas of WIN – Smart & Functional Materials, Connected Devices, Next Generation Energy Systems, and Therapeutic & Theranostics, as well as global-perspective seminars were held in environmental and economic impacts of nanotechnology developments and applications. Each day also provided tours of research laboratories and facilities at UW – within the QNC and throughout Engineering, including the RoboHub and the Giga-2-Nano fabrication site in E3. Click the button below to find this year’s full agenda and activities.

Leftraru (“Lefty”) Gonzalez-Tucas has just completed his third year in Electrical Engineering with a minor in Nanotechnology at the McGill University in Montreal, who found out about the Summer School through an advertisement in his department. He was interested in visiting UW because of his interest and passion in energy systems, to make them more efficient, especially in the move to greener energy generation. “I really enjoyed the lectures and learning more about what is happening in Waterloo. Many other universities don’t have as much focus on nanotechnology topics like at Waterloo,” Lefty said.

Kyle Shal is completing his Bachelor's degree in Computer Engineering at Memorial University in St John’s, Newfoundland, who discovered the Summer School through his department head, Professor Chen, who was previously a colleague of WIN member Dayan Ban. “I have been interested in nanotechnology since high school,” Kyle said when asked why he was interested in joining the Summer School. “I like things that are challenging, looking at complicated problems and projects. Nanotechnology seemed challenging, looking at things in ways most other fields couldn’t.”

Krushnaraj Pandya is also completing a Bachelor's degree in Computer Engineering at Memorial University – in fact, he and Kyle are classmates. He said he has also been interested in nanotechnology since high school, and especially its intersection with quantum mechanics and computer science.

For this inaugural year, spots were not only open to undergraduate students from other universities in Canada, but also to graduate students already at UW hoping to learn more about other research areas at WIN for a holistic view of the research ecosystem.

Pengcheng Zhao completed his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Manitoba, and is now a Master’s student in Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering with Professor XiaoYu Wu’s research group at the Energy Research Centre at UW. He said events like this help see the connections between the different fields, like mechanical engineering and chemistry, for example. “It really helps with collaboration, and the evolution of new materials for innovative applications,” Pengcheng said.

Aklilu Getnet Messele is a first-year PhD student working with Professor Tizazu Mekonnen in the Department of Chemical Engineering at UW. Aklilu completed both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering at the Addis Ababa Institute of Technology in Ethiopia, specializing in metal fatigue in transport infrastructure. “I came to UW to expand my knowledge in the materials science aspect of nanotechnology. It has been a wonderful experience so far,” Aklilu said.

When asked what the students thought about the Summer School overall, the responses were very positive and enthusiastic.

“All the professors are so smart and really know their fields, but they are also very approachable and easy to talk to.” –Aklilu Getnet Messele

“I agree, when I asked any question, it was answered above and beyond my expectations, and they made me think beyond my original query.” –Kyle Shal

“This was a great opportunity to learn more about nanotechnology and the research here at Waterloo, and to explore the large campus and its open green spaces.” –Lefty Gonzalez-Tucas

And Krushnaraj Pandya summed it up like this: “It was awesome!”

The WIN Summer School is expected to be an annual event. Next year, the event is anticipated to be co-hosted with the NSERC CREATE graduate training program, 2D-MATURE summer school with the Centre for Nanointegration at Duisberg-Essen (CENIDE). WIN is excited to host the next Summer School and looks forward to welcoming more top students in the upcoming year!