Honouring exceptional alumni and a valued supporter
Remote ceremony recognizes Faculty of Engineering medal and award recipients
Remote ceremony recognizes Faculty of Engineering medal and award recipientsBy Carol Truemner Faculty of Engineering
An online celebration this week honoured the achievements of outstanding alumni with awards in four categories and a supporter of engineering research and education.
Hosted by Mary Wells, dean of engineering, the event recognized an emergency room physician, the CEO of a company advancing the field of spectroscopy, the developer of a unique radiation therapy system, the inventors of technology that helps disabled children take their first steps, the creator of software to support disaster relief, and a valued friend of the Faculty.
The recipients of this year’s awards are:
Glen Bandiera – Individual Alumni Achievement Medal for Community Service
Skills Glen Bandiera (BASc ’90, systems design engineering) learned as a Waterloo student over 30 years ago still guide him in his career today with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
As the college’s executive director of specialty education for the past four months, Bandiera often calls on the knowledge he gained as a Waterloo Engineering student and later as an emergency room physician and director.
After completing his Waterloo degree in 1990, Bandiera attended McMaster University where he graduated as a physician with a specialty in trauma and emergency medicine in 1998. He later completed a master of education degree at the University of Toronto.
For 10 years he worked as a staff emergency physician and trauma team leader at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, one of only two trauma centres serving over seven million people. He then completed two five-year terms as chief of emergency medicine at St. Michael’s.
For his last seven years at St. Michael’s, he concurrently served as associate dean, postgraduate medical education at the University of Toronto where he holds the rank of full professor.
As a physician, he not only wanted to make a difference in the operating room but outside it as well.
Through his many research, academic leadership roles, and work with accreditation reform, Bandiera has pursued his passion for improving the education and preparation for practice for all specialty physicians in Canada. He has also contributed immensely to advancing hospital process improvement.
“One of the things I hope the next generation in medicine and as well as engineering come away with is an appreciation for societal need and their role in it,” Bandiera says.
Olga Pawluczyk – Individual Alumni Achievement Medal in Professional Achievement
Olga Pawluczyk (BASc ’98, systems design engineering) describes running P&P Optica as her dream job because it combines many of her interests – engineering, medical imaging and problem solving.
The company is a leader in advancing the field of spectroscopy by developing and testing multispectral and hyperspectral imaging technology for applications in the medical, recycling, oil and gas, space exploration, and food industries.
Launched in 1995 by her father, Romuald, Pawluczyk joined P&P Optica in 2000 and became its CEO five years later.
The company built its first spectrometer in 2003 for the Ontario Cancer Institute. The institute has since purchased several more systems that are used to identify the risks of breast cancer.
Recently, P&P Optica created a Smart Imaging System for assessing food quality and safety through identifying foreign objects at line speed in real time. The technology has been tested in leading food plants throughout Canada.
Pawluczyk says her Waterloo Engineering experience has been invaluable to her career as CEO of P&P Optica.
“The group work and the camaraderie of systems design really prepared me for running a company right now,” she says.
Samuel Mazin – Individual Alumni Achievement Medal in Professional Achievement
Armed with a degree he earned at Waterloo, Samuel Mazin (BASc ’02, computer engineering) completed his PhD in electrical engineering at Stanford.
While at Stanford, his research focused on the design of a novel X-ray computed tomography (CT) system, resulting in several journal papers and a patent, as well as the Joel Drillings Award from the American Heart Association.
He developed the first biology-guided radiation therapy system that targets multiple tumors simultaneously with radiation and then co-founded California-based RefleXion Medical to commercialize his technology.
His work, described as ground-breaking, has enhanced the ability of medical professionals to treat patients with various forms of cancer and various levels of metastatic disease.
One of his medal nominators from Stanford, Yossi Feinberg, the Adams distinguished professor of management and professor of economics, says Mazin has developed a reputation as a leading international expert in electrical engineering as it relates to creating and developing new and unique radiology devices.
“His research has led to a patent-pending innovation which combines positron emission tomography (PET) scan technology with radio-surgery and a novel, x-ray computed tomography (CT) system which resulted in a patent and several journal publications,” says Feinberg. “These achievements rank him among the world’s very best in the field.”
Manmeet Maggu and Rahul Udasi, co-founders of Trexo Robotics – Team Alumni Achievement Medal
Manmeet Maggu (BASc ’13, mechatronics engineering) was beginning his fourth-year engineering Capstone Design project when he found out his nephew Praneit had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and would never be able to walk.
He teamed up with his classmate and friend Rahul Udasi (BASc ’14, mechatronics engineering) to build something to help Praneit.
Using their mechatronics engineering background, they developed a prototype of the Trexo exoskeleton and then travelled to Parneit’s home in Delhi, India to have him test it out.
While it didn’t work initially, the then students fixed the issues and watched as Maggu’s nephew took his first steps.
“That still is the proudest moment in my life and it became the inspiration for Trexo Robotics,” says Maggu. “We believe that walking is a human right and that’s what we’re trying to achieve.”
As co-founders of Trexo Robotics launched in 2016, Maggu and Udasi continue to develop wearable and robotics custom built to help children with physical disabilities and mobility issues walk, often for the first time.
Nashin Mahtani – Young Alumni Achievement Medal
As the director of the Indonesian nonprofit Yayasan Peta Bencana, Nashin Mahtani (BAS ’14 and MArch '15) leads the development of software to support disaster relief.
Launched in 2017, Peta Bencana, which means "disaster map" in Indonesian, uses AI-assisted technology to monitor social media and instant messaging posts by residents in disaster-hit areas in Indonesia.
After filtering through the community-provided information, the system displays verified flood, fire or other disaster details on a map.
“It can be used by any variety of people and agencies for coordination through a free, transparent and open-source framework that doesn’t require anyone to learn a new application,” says Mahtani. “They can simply use the same social media channels they are already using.”
The software is being adapted to be used in relief efforts in the Philippines.
Mahtani’s written, design, and film work has been widely published in numerous journals and exhibited across various international venues. A frequent speaker and presenter, she continues to be engaged as a guest lecturer with schools and universities around the world, including the University of Waterloo.
Her many accolades include being recognized as one of this year’s Forbes Asia 30 Under 30 for her contributions to the region's social issues.
Friend of the Faculty Award – Hatch Ltd.
Over the years, Hatch Ltd. and Waterloo Engineering have formed a strong strategic partnership spanning numerous areas.
The engineering and project consultancy firm with more than 70 offices around the world has invested over $1.2 million in academic support, sponsorship and renewable energy research in partnership with Claudio A. Cañizares, a Waterloo electrical and computer engineering professor and Hydro One Research Chair.
The firm has provided funding of $250,000 for the Kurt and Marianne Strobele Engineering Award and $150,00 for the Hatch Scholarship. Additionally, it has provided funding for NSERC postgraduate scholarships and the Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship in Science, Technology and Mechanical Engineering.
The company has also provided support for Waterloo Engineering entrepreneurship activities, the Sedra Student Design Centre and its student-led teams.
Since 1979, Hatch has hired over 900 Waterloo Engineering co-op students and 340 alumni at both Hatch Ltd. and its amalgamated companies.
Bruce MacKay, who joined Hatch shortly after graduating in 1989 from Waterloo with a BASc in chemical engineering, is currently the company’s regional managing director, Western North America.
“The people who succeed best at Hatch are not ones who want to be told what to do but rather the ones who take initiative, have drive and passion and really want to make a positive impact in the world," says MacKay. "It’s why we all went into engineering – to build solutions that have an impact.”
* Banner photo is of Manmeet Maggu,left, and Rahul Udasi, co-founders of Trexo Robotics
Take a look at what it means for the 2021 Faculty of Engineering Alumni Achievement Medal and Friend of the Faculty recipients to be honoured by Waterloo Engineering.
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