With the University’s virtual Convocation ceremony on June 23, 2021 U of T Engineering students mark the end of one journey and the beginning of another.
Having enriched the U of T Engineering community as undergraduate and graduate students, they will join our vibrant, global network of Skule™ alumni, where they will continue to address pressing challenges around the world and inspire the next generation.
This year’s 14 “Grads to Watch” — selected by their home departments and institutes — embody the spirit of U of T Engineering. Their stories illustrate the creativity, innovation and global impact that define our community. Watch their next steps!
See below the students featured from MIE.
Kyle Booth (MIE PhD 2T1)
Booth has always had a passion for optimization. “There is something particularly satisfying about finding provably optimal solutions to problems,” he says.
Inspired by the rapid electrification of the transportation industry, Booth’s dissertation proposes optimization-based strategies for coordinating fleets of electric vehicles and battery-powered autonomous robots. “My work can be used to help owners of electric vehicle fleets manage these assets in more intelligent, cost-effective ways,” he says.
From 2016 to 2017, Booth served as co-president of the University of Toronto Operations Research Group, a student-run organization that brings together students with an interest in the application of advanced analytical methods to help make better decisions. He also served as the President for a competition known as the Toronto Operations Research Challenge in both 2018 and 2019.
In 2017, he spent the summer at the NASA Ames Research Center in California, where he conducted an internship with the quantum computing group. His research focused on developing techniques for optimally compiling quantum circuits to real-world quantum computing architectures.
“Completing a graduate degree at U of T Engineering has opened many doors for me as a researcher,” he says. “I gained a toolkit of algorithms, models, and paradigms that allow me to effectively tackle interesting and hard problems. I have also learned the value of building a network of colleagues, which will make future collaborations and brainstorming much easier.”
Booth has recently returned to the NASA Ames in the role of Associate Scientist. His ongoing research investigates ways that classical optimization techniques can bolster near-term quantum computing efforts, and how quantum computing can accelerate existing optimization paradigms.
“I’d like to thank Professor J. Christopher Beck (MIE) and the rest of my “family” at the Toronto Intelligent Decision Engineering Laboratory. You’re all amazing and I wish you the best.”
Ben Sprenger (MechE 2T0 + PEY)
Sprenger has made the world his classroom. In his second year he and his sister, fellow U of T student Jillian Sprenger, travelled to Sri Lanka to film a documentary about climate change. The film, The Road to Colombo, was selected for inclusion in the Vancouver International Film Festival.
“The arts, particularly filmmaking, have always been a huge part of my life – just as important to me as my engineering interests,” says Sprenger.
A year later, Sprenger travelled to Mongolia, where he conducted interviews with nomadic people about a government program that provided them with portable solar generators. The goal was to learn what factors made the program a success, and to see if they could be replicated elsewhere.
That fall, Sprenger travelled to Oxfordshire, U.K. to take up a PEY Co-op internship with Williams Advanced Engineering. The company was contracted to design and vehicles for Panasonic Jaguar Racing to enter in the Formula E championship, the world’s only all-electric racing series.
Sprenger was already familiar with the sport, having led the University of Toronto Formula Racing Team at competitions in Brooklyn, Mich. and Most, Czech Republic. At Williams, he contributed to both the 2020 and 2021 vehicles. His proudest moment was when the team placed first at the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, held in Mexico City in February 2020.
The pace of the last four years has been exciting for Sprenger, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon — after graduation, he’ll be moving to California for a stint as a battery engineering intern at Tesla.
“I feel like I have been catapulted at lightning speed from one incredible project to the next,” he says. “What that taught me is that I learn best by drawing from experiences in as many disparate fields as possible. For me, the ‘lightbulb’ moments come when I make a conscious effort to blur the traditional lines between disciplines.”
“I cannot thank the entire U of T Formula Racing team enough, including all the team members and faculty advisors. This team was the defining experience of my undergraduate degree, and I can directly attribute my positive experiences to the skills and connections I built through this team. I have never met a group of people so eager to learn and to help each other become better engineers.”
View the full story with all 14 Grads to Watch on the Engineering News site.
– This story was originally published on the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering News Site on June 21, 2021 by Liz Do & Tyler Irving