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Shari van de Pol, BEngS '01

Electrical Engineering | Bringing innovation to the world of Canadian cattle

What do you get when you combine a computer engineer and a veterinarian?

The funny answer would be smart cows. But the right answer is smart agriculture.

Shari van de Pol, a 2001 Computer Engineering & Society grad who subsequently became a veterinarian, has spent the last seven years finding technological solutions to veterinary challenges facing dairy and feedlot cattle.

“A lot of people are concerned about animal welfare, as well as how their food ends up on their table,” she says. “Technology can be used to improve things like the usage and tracking of antibiotics, the sustainability of natural resources, general food safety, and finally the health and welfare of animals.”

After graduating from McMaster, van de Pol spent a decade working in software development, including as a team lead with IBM Canada’s WebSphere Application Server.

But finding herself pulled toward animal agriculture and veterinary medicine, she took the leap into the intense four-year program at Ontario Veterinary College.

While courses in animal surgery and herd management program were quite the switch from the world of software, she quickly saw the value of connecting real-world data, technological systems and software with the world of veterinary medicine.

Since launching her company CATTLEytics in 2014, van de Pol has been bringing technical solutions – from data reporting systems to cattle management software to hardware bridge devices – to the world of Canadian cattle.

She works alongside her brother Allan, who heads up CATTLEytics R&D, leading a team of eight software and hardware engineers, most with cattle-specific experience.

Their work received recent national recognition, with the receipt of several research grants and the addition of Feedlot Health by TELUS Agriculture to their roster of clients.

TELUS Agriculture aims to encourage “agri-tech” solutions and data-driven automation to improve the connectivity and efficiency of food systems.

“I love the creativity of my work,” says van de Pol. “I love that we can make novel advancements and implement technologies that help those who do the hard work of making our food while improving the lives of the animals involved.

“That, along with creating a better world for my two children, is my ‘why’.” 

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