Engineering Research Days: Inaugural event aims to accelerate impact by enhancing research partnerships

U of T Engineering researchers use an atomic force microscope to measure the ability of graphene to resist mechanical fatigue. This image was taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Daria Perevezentsev)

A first-of-its-kind virtual conference will showcase the breadth and depth of scientific research across U of T Engineering. 

Engineering Research Days: Empowering Innovation 2021 will take place on June 24 and 25, offering attendees an interactive online venue to engage with researchers from departments, institutes and centres across the Faculty and University.  

The event features learning and networking opportunities, including panels on emerging research trends and themes, and poster sessions highlighting game-changing projects and initiatives undertaken in labs at U of T and partner facilities. Participants will join discussions on themes such as robotics, manufacturing, mobility, sustainability, artificial intelligence and bioengineering. 

“U of T Engineering researchers collaborate across disciplines and partner with over 400 companies worldwide, from local startups to major multi-nationals,” says Chris Yip, Dean of U of T Engineering. “I’m tremendously excited to showcase the dynamic and world-leading work underway across our Faculty, and to spark new ideas and launch bold projects.” 

The lineup also includes fireside chats with four U of T Engineering alumni who are disrupting traditional business models and bringing research-focused innovation to their sectors:  

  • Ajay Kochhar (ChemE 1T3), President and CEO of Li-Cycle, co-founded the company in 2016 to pilot a more sustainable recycling process for battery materials from spent lithium-ion batteries. Kochhar and his team developed and scaled an efficient method that increases the number of critical substances that can be recycled. As demand grows exponentially, the company continues its expansion into global markets. 
  • Irene Sterian (IndE 8T5) is Director, Technology and Innovation at Celestica, where she has pioneered environmentally safe, sustainable manufacturing technologies. In 2014, Sterian founded a not-for-profit technology accelerator called the Refined Manufacturing Acceleration Process Network (ReMAP), which has attracted more than $55 million in foreign investment and revenues, built 195 prototypes and scaled 30 products to market. 
  • Kristina Menton (MechE 1T4 + PEY) is Director of Operations at Opener, where she plays an integral role on the team behind the BlackFly, an all-electric, one-passenger aircraft capable of vertical take-off and landing. The company came looking for her while she was still an undergraduate. Opener plans to release their first batch of vehicles for sale by the end of this year. 
  • Matthew Zeiler (EngSci 0T9) is founder and CEO of Clarifai, a company that leverages artificial intelligence techniques to build image, text and video recognition solutions. During his PhD, while interning at Google Brain, Zeiler realized that the algorithms he was developing on his own were achieving better results than the models at Google. He launched Clarifai in 2013 to help data scientists, researchers and businesses with accessible and intelligent applications. 

All event sessions will encourage opportunities to foster new ideas and collaborations with industry partners and stakeholders across the research ecosystem.  

“Our strong relationships with industry and government advance vital research that is necessary to transform our society, in critical fields from sustainability, to advanced manufacturing, to bioengineering,” says Adriano Vissa, Associate Director of Corporate Partnerships. “Engineering Research Days provides a platform to explore multidisciplinary collaboration in support of research that addresses social, economic, environmental and industrial challenges.”

– This story was originally published on the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering News Site on June 17, 2021 by Parveen Singh

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