WATERLOO, Ont. (Wednesday, March 20, 2013) – A University of Waterloo student named the top co-op student in Canada is among six students honoured as Waterloo celebrates National Co-op Week.

As part of the week's celebrations, one co-op student from each of Waterloo’s six faculties received the 2012 University of Waterloo Co-op Student of the Year Award in a ceremony.

Henry Shi (Math)– named by the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education as 2012 National Co-op Student of the Year for his Moneyball-style software at Bloomberg Sports – was joined by Diljot Chhina (Science), Akash Kapoor (Arts), Dominique Souris (Environment), Nemica Thavarajah (Applied Health Sciences) and Dominic Toselli (Engineering) as Waterloo’s top co-op students of 2012.

The university recognized these students due to their exemplary performance during a 2012 work term, along with other factors including community involvement, contribution to co-op and academic achievements.

"Waterloo has one of the most successful co-op education programs in the world with more than 6,000 students currently in the workplace during this work term. The six winners we announced embody the determination and passion for learning of our entire co-op program and I am very proud of their accomplishments,” said Peggy Jarvie, executive director of Co-operative Education & Career Action. "Their experiences in work and in Waterloo’s co-op program will give them a phenomenal foundation on which to build their future careers.”

Waterloo's co-op students of the year are:

Henry Shi – Computer Science (Math)

Shi received the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education's 2012 National Co-op Student of the Year Award and the Emery-Dufault Award. During his work term at Bloomberg Sports, Shi worked directly with a Major League Baseball team, helping to improve their advanced scouting and ultimately impacting their game performance through the development of Moneyball-style software. It is a suite of tools and reports that provided statistical information, such as opposing players to watch out for, strong and weak hitters, which they used for their pre-game preparation. While Shi does not claim direct causation, the team he worked with has emerged as leaders of their division in what is considered a remarkable comeback story. Shi is a member of the VeloCity program at Waterloo. He independently taught other students the basics of programming, the response to which was so positive the program was officially offered as a course to students this term.

Diljot Chhina – Biotechnology/Economics (Science)

Chhina was employed at the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, beginning as a project management coordinator, but promoted after two months to project management consultant, a role classified as a full-time position within the ministry. Her main task during her work term was developing and integrating a project management and process improvement portal to be used by more than 4,000 staff members. Chhina presented the portal to a Ugandan delegation, demonstrating how valuable an online tool can be for integrating innovation within a governmental setting. The portal was nominated for an Innovation Award with the Ontario Public Service. Chhina also serves as the current director of marketing for the National Business and Technology Conference, and was the entrepreneurship lead for the International Genetically Engineered Machines Competition in 2012.

Akash Kapoor – Accounting and Financial Management (Arts)

Kapoor spent his work term with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, where he managed a new client’s tax return from beginning to end, something usually only experienced associates or managers undertake. While working with the scientific research & experimental development group, he created an Excel workbook used to gather and organize financial information from the client. It has gone on to become a standardized template used by the national client engagement team, to be used by company offices all over Canada. Kapoor has volunteered as a teaching and research assistant at Waterloo, and has donated his time to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario tax clinic, a program that helps low-income families and students prepare their tax returns.

Dominique Souris – Environment and Resource Studies (Environment)

Souris spent her work term at the Ontario Energy Board, where she was a key player in introducing new presentation software to the company. In addition to training permanent staff members on the software, she held a Lunch and Learn session and went on to design a presentation that senior managers used at a conference. Souris also took on the daunting task of expanding the board’s outreach contacts by developing relationships with student unions and campus organizations and distributing promotional materials across the province. She is a member of the uWaterloo Sustainability Project, is the events and web director of the Environment Student Association, serves as the environmental coordinator at Renison University College, is campaign coordinator with the Ban the Bottle coalition, and is a member of the environment sub-committee for the Environment Student Society.

Nemica Thavarajah – Health Studies: Gerontology (Applied Health Sciences)

Thavarajah worked in Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Centre’s Rapid Response Radiotherapy Clinic (RRPR), where she researched the treatments provided there in order to better assess the level of patient care. Analyzing more than 5,400 patient cases, she wrote three first-authored manuscripts presenting her findings, which will be shared on a national and international basis. She also published a manuscript determining the knowledge of pain management of cancer patients among radiation therapists, which was the first study of its kind. Thavarajah serves as the team leader for Waterloo’s Mission Nutrition Team, a group dedicated to promoting nutrition and a healthy lifestyle to students and staff on campus. Along with her team, she has organized many events on campus.

Dominic Toselli – Mechanical Engineering (Engineering)

Toselli spent his work term in Calgary at Shell Canada, where he took the lead role on a root cause analysis of a costly heat exchanger problem. In his report, he addressed the human factor in the issue, which turned out to account for 80 per cent of the failings the company was encountering. Because of the costly and time-consuming process of replacing the heat exchangers, his project resulted in a direct savings of $1 million per year for Shell Canada. Dominic had the opportunity to present his findings in front of the Technical Assurance Engineering Group, which is comprised of more than 100 professional engineers. His report was published at the Shell Calgary Research Centre’s global technical library. Toselli has worked for two years on creating a bilateral exchange agreement between the Politecnico di Milan and the University of Waterloo, and is currently on academic exchange in Italy.

In addition to these students, Elias Chiddicks (Arts: Legal Studies) and Michal Grzadkowski (Math: Combinatorics & Optimization) received honourable mentions.

Co-operative Education and Career Action presents the Co-op Student of the Year Award each year.

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