Top Prospects: Leading innovators from the Class of 2020

First row: Mariam Ragab (Dalhousie University), Avery Vine (Carleton University), Nick Meade (Dalhousie University). Second row: Raaj Chatterjee (Simon Fraser University), Sal Choueib (Queen’s University), Lana El Sanyoura (University of Toronto), Katherine Westerlund (University of British Columbia). Third row: Alisha Bhanji (University of Waterloo), Michael Jobity (McMaster University), Shekhar Kumar (University of Toronto).

For the third consecutive year, The Logic has asked some of Canada’s best engineering and computer science schools to tell us about a few of their rising stars most likely to shape the future of Canada’s innovation economy.

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These undergraduate students are taking their ingenuity to the worlds of tech and finance—many have already secured their first jobs out of university.

In alphabetical order, meet 10 of Canada’s leading innovators from the Class of 2020.

Alisha Bhanji 

  • School: University of Waterloo
  • Program: Nanotechnology engineering
  • Employment status: Entrepreneur

Bhanji is the co-founder of Scope Photonics, whose lenses for smartphones and other devices have a zoom function using liquid crystal lenses that are smaller and cheaper than those currently used. The startup has already secured more than $85,000 in funding and is considering multiple offers of intent. As part of her co-op program, Bhanji has worked at the NASAJet Propulsion Laboratory and Apple. She is also a co-founder of the Waterloo Nanotechnology Conference. 

Raaj Chatterjee 

  • School: Simon Fraser University
  • Program: Mechatronic systems engineering
  • Employment status: Drafted by Simon Fraser University’s eBrain Lab

Chatterjee served as co-president of SFU350, a student climate-advocacy organization that helped lead the movement for its school to divest of its investments in fossil fuels and fund more sustainable sources. As a result, the school pledged to reduce the carbon footprint of its investments by 45 per cent by 2025. He is continuing his studies to use magnetic brain-stimulation technologies at SFU’s lab to create tech-based solutions to mental health issues like depression and addiction. 

Sal Choueib 

  • School: Queen’s University
  • Program: Biomedical computing
  • Employment Status: Drafted by Queen’s University

Choueib helped develop SlicerVR, a medical-imaging platform for software called 3D Slicer, as well as a medical training system for procedures that involve needles. He has also worked at the Laboratory for Percutaneous Surgery and the Simpson Lab.

Lana El Sanyoura

  • School: University of Toronto 
  • Program: Computer science
  • Employment status: Drafted by University of Toronto

El Sanyoura is the co-founder of Hello, Girl, a club for women in computer science. She has interned at Intel and at the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab. She joined Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by invite in Ottawa and addressed the Class of 2020 across the country via videoconference. El Sanyoura is currently an intern at Amazon and will return to the University of Toronto in the fall for her master’s, researching how to better integrate AI technology across social systems. 

Michael Jobity

  • School: McMaster University
  • Program: Engineering physics and management
  • Employment status: Entrepreneur

Jobity is a co-founder of 2unify, a music-tech startup that has created what it calls the world’s first hands-free robotic guitar-tuning stand. He will be pitching his product on CBC’s “Dragon’s Den” this summer, and competing at Dubai’s Digicon MENAand South Korea’s JEC Korea this fall. He recently launched FlameOn, a website that connects students to industry projects across the world. Also a pianist, Jobity will release his first EP on Spotify this summer.

Shekhar Kumar

  • School: University of Toronto
  • Program: Industrial engineering
  • Employment status: Drafted by McKinsey & Company

Kumar spent a semester of his third year abroad at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay. He has been involved with the Creative Destruction Lab and the Entrepreneurship Hatchery, where he helped connect venture capital firms with student startups. He is moving to New York City for his new job, and will spend the fall in Peru and the Dominican Republic, learning from entrepreneurs about bringing financial services to emerging markets. 

Nick Meade 

  • School: Dalhousie University
  • Program: Computer science
  • Employment Status: Drafted by McGill University and Mila

Meade spent the last two years of his undergraduate studies researching through the NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards program how machine learning could be used to create piano performances. To further his career in research, Meade will be joining a master’s program at McGill University and Mila, where he will work on how machine learning can enhance language processing. 

Mariam Ragab

  • School: Dalhousie University
  • Program: Computer science 
  • Employment status: Drafted by the Bank of Canada

Ragab has served as a Junior Team Canada ambassador for Global Vision Canada. She attended the 2018 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Papua New Guinea, where she discussed with Trudeau the youth perspective on working in APEC countries. Last year, she was awarded the 3M National Student Fellowship, which is given to 10 undergraduate students across Canada for outstanding leadership. She has recently started working at the Bank of Canada in the financial stability department. 

Katherine Westerlund

  • School: University of British Columbia 
  • Program: Geological engineering
  • Employment status: Drafted by Mott Macdonald

Westerlund served as an executive and recently as interim president of the UBC Engineering Undergraduate Society and pushed to reform the traditional Iron Ring ceremony, which was long criticized for being sexist. She is taking her expertise in rock mechanics and optimization modelling to begin a career in infrastructure development, starting with tunneling projects as an engineer-in-training at Mott Macdonald.

Avery Vine

  • School: Carleton University
  • Program: Computer science
  • Employment status: Drafted by Apple

Vine, a piano player since the age of five, joined Carleton’s computer science program because of its mobile computing stream; he said he “had a hunch that I wanted to develop iOS apps.” During his undergraduate career, he worked at Tripadvisor in Ottawa and Boston. He has been awarded Apple’s WWDC19 Scholarship and Carleton’s Senate Medal for Outstanding Academic Achievement.