Maeesha Biswas (IndE 2T1+1+PEY) discovered early on that she thrives on community and creativity. While the last year and a half has been challenging, the pandemic didn’t slow her down on seeking out opportunities to explore new projects and connect with those around her.
Currently, Maeesha is working as a software engineer for her PEY placement at PocketHealth, a U of T alumni-founded start-up that enables medical image sharing between patients and providers.
“I’ve been enjoying my time at PocketHealth, their mission really resonates with me. I’ve been in the position as a patient where it was difficult to access my own medical records and I am happy to be a part of the solution,” said Maeesha, “I like knowing I’m contributing to patients being able to advocate for their own health.”
Before starting her PEY in May 2021, Maeesha had a busy third year. While there was plenty of uncertainty to deal with as well as the challenges of adapting to online learning, Maeesha also accomplished some amazing things with her peers including organizing an undergraduate research conference, starting a podcast, presenting at an international conference and winning a student video contest.
“It’s been challenging to be apart from our peers and professors, and I really made it a goal of mine to see where we could foster community in this virtual reality,” she explained, “working with other students to bring UnERD (Undergraduate Engineering Research Day) online was a great experience and gave us a space to grow the undergrad research community.”
It was on the UnERD Organizing Committee that Maeesha met Jennifer Wang who she launched the 1% Inspiration podcast with.
“During the stay at home order in Ontario Jennifer brought up how we are missing the organic on-campus interactions we had with our peers. Without those opportunities, we could see students losing out on access to research relationships and resources. We started brainstorming ways we could help bridge that gap and came up with the 1% Inspiration podcast,” Maeesha said, “Our goal was to create a podcast that would serve as almost a surrogate mentor and permanent knowledge repository for undergraduate students.”
On the 1% Inspiration podcast Maeesha and Jennifer interview individuals within the research community and learn about the untold and overlooked stories behind their success. A few recent guests include 2020’s youngest U of T grad, Maddy Zhang, former EngSoc president Laura Berneaga and U of T Engineering’s Dr. Mikhail Burke. With six episodes so far, the podcast is just getting started and Maeesha already has great ideas for where it could go.
“We were fortunate to receive funding from the Hart House Good Ideas Fund to help get the equipment we needed to launch the podcast. With funding from the U of T Global COVID 19 Student Engagement Award we hope to move beyond a podcast and develop a toolkit full of resources for students to achieve their own successes.”
Community and collaboration are behind many of Maeesha’s own successes. As part of a team of IndE students Maeesha had the opportunity to present at an international conference where the clinical deterioration solution they designed, Nura: A Postpartum Mental Health Tool, won the Patient Safety Design Competition. Together with EngSci student Yue (Kathy) Zhuang (Machine Intelligence 2T2+PEY), Maeesha created a video highlighting the ways in which U of T Engineering students were adapting to the virtual world and won first place in the American Society of Engineering Education Student Video Contest.
“I’ve spent a lot of time this year reflecting on where I am and how I got here. I’ve been writing letters and reaching out to people who have had an impact on my journey. It’s really cool to think about how things I learned from my music teacher in elementary school played a part in my engineering education,” Maeesha said. “We are supported by so many individuals in our lives and I think it’s important to recognize both the big and small ways we are impacted by our relationships. Find your community, give back to your community, and you will find your own version of success.”
If you’d like to connect with Maeesha to learn more about her projects or experiences, you can reach out to her on LinkedIn.