Home » Meet six women who are among U of T Engineering’s ‘grads to watch’ in 2022

Meet six women who are among U of T Engineering’s ‘grads to watch’ in 2022

by Narges Mohammadi

As they cross the stage at Convocation Hall, graduates from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering are marking the end of one journey and the beginning of another.

Having enriched the U of T community as undergraduate and graduate students, they now join a global network of U of T Engineering alumni who working to address pressing challenges around the world and inspire the next generation. Here are six inspiring women from the Faculty of Applied & Engineering annual Grads to Watch list .

Valerie Ajayi

Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, plus professional experience year co-op.

Between working part-time and commuting two hours each way from just outside of Brampton, Ajayi found it difficult in her first year to participate in U of T Engineering life, especially on weekends. But she did not let that challenge stand in her way for long. “There are so many opportunities across a campus as large as St. George and a community as passionate as Skule,” she says, referring to the U of T Engineering community’s affectionate name for itself. “I wanted to take advantage of it as best as I could.”

Sayeh Bayat

PhD in biomedical engineering

In her thesis, Bayat aimed to develop “digital biomarkers” that can predict or explain neurodegeneration. For example, in one study she gathered mobility data from smartphones or other wearable devices to compare how older people – some with dementia and accompanied by family members – moved about their communities. The modes of transportation included by transit, bicycle, walking and by car. “Using machine learning, we showed that there may be very subtle changes in driving behaviors that can be indicative of the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s disease,” she says.

Laura Berneaga 

Master’s degree in mechanical engineering

Berneaga works on problems at the intersection of engineering and humanity. Her thesis revolves around the manufacturing of ventilators – one of the earliest health-care bottlenecks exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We focused on the controller since it is the most complex component, responsible for all the major decisions the ventilator makes,” she says.

“Today, the code for the controller is highly dependent on the specific hardware components. We created a framework for an open-source design – one that could be adopted by manufacturers anywhere in the world, helping them quickly scale up in a crisis.”

Julia Bincik

Bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering, plus professional experience year co-op

Bincik’s passion is environmental sustainability, and she is graduating with a feeling of confidence in her ability to have an impact in her chosen field. “I feel well-equipped to make a positive difference,” she says.

Bincik credits the TrackOne program, which she did in the first year of her undergraduate studies, for sparking her interest in materials science engineering as a way to explore green technologies. A highlight from her academic career was co-authoring an article on microplastics for the Society of Plastics Engineers Newsletter, which won first place at the University of Toronto Engineers Without Borders Green Plastics Article Competition.

Marie-Eve Caron

Master’s degree in civil and mineral engineering

Caron describes her two years as a civil and mineral engineering student as a roller-coaster ride. “It had its highs and lows,” she says. “But I am grateful for the support I had from those around me, including my thesis supervisor and members of the department.” While many of her classes and projects were completed remotely, Caron was still able to immerse herself in the social life of her department through the CivMin Graduate Students Association (CivMinGSA), where she served as vice-president, social.

Saanjali Maharaj

Bachelor’s degree in engineering science, plus professional experience year co-op

“My experience at U of T has been a time of discovery,” says Maharaj. “I learned so much about engineering design, innovations in the industry and working as part of a team.” The time was also a period of self-discovery for Maharaj, as her various internships, courses and research experiences helped her find out what she is passionate about, charting the course of her career. In 2019, Maharaj had “the amazing opportunity” to be an intern at the NASA Ames Research Center’s department of rotorcraft aeromechanics.

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