Mitacs and the Indigenous and Black Engineering and Technology PhD Project (IBET), an initiative at the University of Waterloo, are expanding their partnership with a pilot initiative that will enable 10 PhD students currently participating in the IBET program to conduct research at an IBET partner institution. Called the IBET Connect Award, the program is designed to encourage Indigenous and Black researchers to build and strengthen connections across Canada.

“The IBET Connect Award offered by Mitacs is a valuable initiative promoting strong connections and collaborations between IBET fellows and engineering and technology faculties across Canada,” said Tiz Mekonnen, Professor at the University of Waterloo and Director, IBET PhD Project. “This allows the fellows to build their professional network in research, access academic expertise and facilities, and directly apply their skills to academic needs.”

The IBET Connect Award will be offered to IBET fellows. Those selected will receive a $9,000 stipend to travel to and conduct an 8- to 16-week project at an IBET partner academic institution. Projects can be research or innovation-based and require active participation of the home and host academic supervisors.

“Mitacs recognizes the importance of equity, diversity, and inclusion, as well as decolonization in the innovation ecosystem,” said Dr. John Hepburn, CEO, Mitacs.If we want to build a stronger Canada, we need to remove the barriers that hold diverse talent back and that block them from reaching high-impact spaces. That is why we are extremely proud to collaborate with IBET on the IBET Connect Award. We look forward to seeing more Black and Indigenous researchers fully participating in the continuum of innovation.”

“This new and exciting advancement of the partnership between Mitacs and the IBET PhD Project will further encourage the talented fellows of the program to pursue careers in academia,” said Christopher Dixon, Senior Advisor, Strategic Partnerships, Mitacs. “As a result, we hope that they will help to diversify the engineering faculty landscape across the country.”

By engaging with faculty members and role models, fellows will receive the professional guidance needed to maximize their potential in the field of engineering. They will have the opportunity to build their professional networks while accessing academic expertise and applying their skills in a new environment.

The lack of a network of support for Indigenous and Black PhD students is one of the challenges that contribute to the underrepresentation of these groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs across the country. In early 2021, when the IBET PhD Project was launched, there were fewer than 15 Indigenous or Black faculty members in engineering fields in Ontario universities.

Through the IBET Connect Award, Mitacs and IBET hope to bridge that gap and foster inclusive innovation by ensuring and promoting equitable access.

To see the list of participant institutions, access:

The Indigenous and Black Engineering and Technology PhD Project (IBET) is a partnership program that was initiated by the University of Waterloo and launched in 2021 by six powerhouse engineering and technology faculties in Ontario. The project aims to foster equitable and inclusive research and teaching environments by increasing the presence of Indigenous and Black academics in STEM disciplines across Canada. The partnership has since expanded to 16 universities across Canada.

The IBET PhD Project offers a Momentum Fellowship of $30,000 per year for four years, along with industry/academic mentorship and professional development opportunities to Indigenous and Black fellows in engineering and technology. The success of these scholars will lead to teaching and research careers in academia, industry, and policy-making.

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