SYDE welcomes two Schulich Leaders

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

The Department of Systems Design Engineering (SYDE) is pleased to welcome two new first-year students to its cohort, through the Schulich Leader Scholarships program. Awarded annually to 100 high school students across Canada, the Schulich Leader Scholarships are granted to exceptional students who show great entrepreneurial promise in the field of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  

For 12 consecutive years, the University of Waterloo has been called “home” for budding STEM scholars who are recipients of this award. Each scholarship recipient can expect between $100,000 and $120,000, which allows them to focus on their studies, knowing that their financial needs are covered.  

“I am delighted to welcome this year’s cohort of Schulich Leader scholars to Waterloo’s campus,” says Vivek Goel, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Waterloo. “These students represent some of the sharpest young minds in STEM and I am excited to see the game-changing contributions they will make to society.” 

Get to know the two student scholars who will join the SYDE community this September. 



Ammielle Wambo Becker

Ammielle kept herself busy in high school and admits that she was “all over the place,” but only because of her eagerness to embrace discomfort and her passion for community involvement. Her activities included being a swimming instructor, a freelance writer and a teen advisor for Girl Up.  

Though many of her hobbies are far removed from the field of study she will pursue at Waterloo, Ammielle states that systems design engineering is a “perfect fit for [her]” as it combines her passion for problem-solving, technology and creativity. 

With dreams of launching her own tech startup at the intersection of biology and engineering, Ammielle hopes to explore building products that will have a positive impact on people’s lives. But building products isn’t the only thing she’s planning on doing.  

“I want to get involved with the National Society of Black Engineers, Women in Engineering, UW Startups, and the Women's Centre,” she emphasizes. 

Some of Ammielle’s proudest achievements to date include founding and leading her school’s newspaper club, organizing a regional STEM conference for elementary school students, winning a few hackathons and completing two internships.  


Eric Gao

Eric Gao

Eric first developed his passion for technology many years ago when he listened to Steve Jobs’ talks on the intersection between engineering and the humanities. That’s why he hopes his Waterloo learnings will equip him with the knowledge to not only build technology that can solve problems – but technology that is also human-centered in its design. 

Truly passionate about humanity, Eric is the president of Project 5K, a non-profit youth organization that promotes and creates volunteer opportunities for youth in the GTA. His proudest achievement to date is an event he organized called Project Valentine. 

“Project Valentine gets volunteers to create Valentine's Day cards which are distributed to frontline workers. This year, I had an idea to leverage the connections I made at the Shad program to run Project Valentine in other provinces. In the end, we were able to run Project Valentine in 6 provinces!” 

Curious and solutions-oriented, Eric envisions a career that would allow him to seek and discover solutions in social interaction, education, sustainability and frugal science.  

“My main goal is to build tools that can empower anyone to use their talents for good regardless of their circumstances,” he says.