Mac Eng Moments with 2024 Graduates – Faculty of Engineering

Mac Eng Moments with 2024 Graduates

By Joanne Lee

We’re counting down to Spring Convocation 2024 by featuring students who reflect on a specific aspect of their Mac Eng education and the role it played in their journey.

Introducing our wonderful valedictorians of the graduating class of 2024.

(Left) Sheridan Fong and (right) Kemi Odujinrin, valedictorians of the graduating class 2024.
Kemi Odujinrin, a recent graduate from the Computer Engineering Program.

The combination of academics and co-curricular opportunities is what makes the McMaster Engineering journey unique for students. Kemi Odujinrin, recent graduate from the Computer Engineering program and valedictorian for this year’s graduating class hopes to apply the knowledge she has accumulated in technology and innovation as a Mac Eng student to create solutions to global challenges. 

Odujinrin’s participation in clubs and teams as well as co-op offered her invaluable experiences beyond the classroom.  Odujinrin had the opportunity to expand her network and shape her skills and mindset to industry level engineering. She continuously pursued roles in clubs like Women in Engineering (WIE), DeltaHacks, National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and an internship at BMO to receive meaningful mentorship and elevate her education and skills. Although the journey to achieving successful internships was full of hurdles to overcome, the challenges were well worth the final outcome of feeling confident and empowered as she enters the workforce post-graduation. The culmination of her hard work has resulted in an offer of employment at Wealthsimple, a particularly defining moment for Odujinrin that highlights her achievements throughout her undergraduate degree. All her experiences as a Mac Eng student played a role in her discovering the right career path, she says.  

As Odujinrin moves on from McMaster and enters the industry, she credits her support system that always had faith in her throughout her journey.  

My parents are my ultimate supporters. Through the challenges of online learning and the joys of receiving my ring, they’ve been there every step of the way. They saw my potential, never doubted me, always cheering me on and providing unwavering support for my success. Reflecting on their sacrifices, I now realize the depth of their commitment to my journey. What I’ve achieved in my final year pales in comparison to their steadfast encouragement and belief in me.” 

Kemi Odujinrin
Kemi Odujinrin in her academic regalia.

As she approaches graduation, Odujinrin reminisces about the memories on campus that she made with fellow students and friends in the community.  

It’s the memories of events like Light up the Night, Club Fest and sunny afternoons spent on campus grounds outside BSB or JHE, playing spike ball or simply soaking up the atmosphere, that will truly be missed. The vibrant energy of fellow students brought life to campus, making it a place we all cherished. As graduation approaches, I know I’m not alone in feeling a sense of nostalgia for these moments and the community that made them special.”  

Kemi Odujinrin
Sheridan Fong, a recent graduate from the Software & Biomedical Engineering Program.

For Sheridan Fong, being involved with the McMaster Engineering Society was as important to her becoming a future-ready engineer as being a hardworking student devoted to their studies and assignments. The recent Software and Biomedical Engineering graduate and the first iBioMed valedictorian reflects on the importance of learning within and beyond the classroom.  

Fong’s involvement in the McMaster Engineering Society helped foster her leadership skills and connected her to amazing individuals who encouraged her throughout her undergraduate degree. She also directed the Student Health Education Centre which broadened her perspectives and challenged her pre-existing notions of student health. The culmination of these experiences allowed Fong to mature into the confident, creative and amicable person she is today. Fong credits the broad range of experiences Mac Eng offers their students, from co-op work terms to identity-based clubs and technical teams, the path to becoming a well-rounded engineer is unique for every member of the Fireball Family.  

As Fong moves on from McMaster and transitions into joining industry, she credits her support system that played an integral role in her success throughout her journey.  

“I want to thank my housemates! I met them in first year classes and have lived with them for 4 years, they have been an amazing source of support and fun memories.”  

Sheridan Fong
Sheridan Fong in front of the Gerald Hatch Centre.

As she approaches graduation, Fong thinks back to the fondest memory of McMaster that she will cherish the most.  

I’ll definitely miss seeing people play sports and hanging out on JHE field, when it’s sunny out; it feels like a movie scene.”  

Sheridan Fong
(Left) Irenaeus Wong, a recent graduate from the Materials Science & Engineering program, and his partner.

“This summer, I’m exploring entrepreneurship by starting a deep-tech startup through the McMaster Forge startup accelerator with my friends Kevin Mensah and Sarah Gonder. Although I have no idea if it will succeed, ultimately, I’ll have learned more doing so than to never have started. Regardless, I’ll be geared to continue to grow and make my mark on sustainability.”  

For an engineering student, co-op is a memorable experience where students learn valuable skills, form unforgettable relationships and gain insight into the real workplace. Irenaeus Wong, a recent graduate from the Materials Science & Engineering program, strives to make a positive impact in sustainability by taking his expertise from his previous co-ops and applying it to his own startup this summer.  

Wong had always felt that there was a large burden for finding one’s true passion to a point where he felt pressured to find what he wanted to do early on. Over his undergrad, he learned to embrace the uncertainty by focusing on the best possible decisions he could make with the knowledge he had. Through accepting his failures and celebrating his achievements, he ultimately discovered that being comfortable with not knowing the exact direction you’re heading in could allow you to fearlessly try numerous new things. With this newfound bravery, Wong is excited and confident to be kicking off a deep-tech startup this summer rather than afraid. Even unaware of the outcomes, he is happy to enjoy the process of learning and building.  

Irenaeus with his sibling Sky Morgan.

During his previous co-op experiences, Wong had three major learnings. The first was the opportunity to turn theory into reality. Wong realized that almost everything around him that shaped his life were engineering concepts that had come to life. In the industry he saw for himself how it took an immense amount of time, communication and teamwork to make all the ideas become reality.  

Second, he learned that co-op could be an eye-opening chance to obtain knowledge from diverse people and places. His co-op experiences took him around the world, spanning Canada, USA and Japan. Through working with various teams from around the world including the young ambitious minds developing technology in Silicon Valley and the courageous minds working on grassroot efforts in Japan to address an aging population, Wong saw the incredible outcomes that a team’s perseverance and innovation for a better tomorrow could achieve.  

Third, Wong smashed open doors he never knew existed. He believes that this convenience comes with the privilege that current students have of being able to access countless opportunities and pathways to virtually any room in the world. However, he knows that to act on this privilege, the traits of confidence and ambition are required.

Co-op was the largest avenue where I was entrusted with a great deal of responsibility to build skills and confidence and it was the experience that helped me continuously grow and learn to go further beyond than I previously would have dreamed possible.”

Irenaeus Wong

As Wong moves on from his journey at McMaster and steps into the engineering industry, he reflects on when it all started back in his first year as an undergraduate and credits his support system for helping him achieve his dreams. 

“Dr. Hatem Zurob was my first introduction to Materials Science & Engineering, and I can sum it up by saying he showed me that the sky’s the limit. His sponsoring of DeltaHacks when I redid 1st year, him reaching out in his network to land my first internship and his support in my unconventional initiatives such as MATLS Hacks has helped me feel what can be accomplished when unconditionally supported by one person. I also really want to highlight my first ever boss, Mike Phaneuf of Fibics Incorporated. There are countless lessons I learned during my first summer at Fibics Inc. that I have carried with me. When my engineering consulting internship offer at the start of the pandemic was rescinded, Mike was the FIRST to snatch me up for the summer and throw more challenges my way and provide me with invaluable mentorship. Mike’s a real one. Thank you, Mike, for your trust in me and being one of the first (and biggest) early investors in me. Quick shoutout to my friends Kevin A. Mensah, Jeremy Wilson, and Sarah Gonder. I’ve worked with them on countless projects, and I could not have asked for better friends to grow with. Last but not least, thanks to my parents Mee Leong Teoh and Kiew-Mun Wong, and my sibling Sky Morgan. Words cannot express their love and support for me, and the sacrifices they made so that I could fail enough times to eventually find success.”  

Irenaeus with his parents Mee Leong Teoh and Kiew-Mun Wong.

As Wong prepares to go into his role as a full-time entrepreneur, he recalls the memories that he cherishes the most from his time at McMaster. 

One core memory is the late nights I spent in 2nd year with friends in the Orange room (JHE 352) with my friends, learning thermodynamics and quantum mechanics together, eating instant ramen, and playing Civ6 to refresh our minds. Ill miss the countless times like these spent around campus working hard but leaving ample room for shenanigans.  

Irenaeus Wong
Damilola Fadiya, President of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) McMaster Chapter and recent graduate from the Software and Biomedical Engineering program.

The opportunity to join a club at McMaster Engineering offers students the unique ability to become leaders of change in areas that mean the most to them. Damilola Fadiya, a recent graduate from the Software and Biomedical Engineering program and this year’s President of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) McMaster chapter encountered a life-changing experience through her role that helped her throughout her educational journey. 

By participating in multiple co-op work terms, joining the flag football team and being a Welcome Week representative as well as a TA, getting involved in the Mac Eng community allowed Fadiya to build confidence, dedication and discipline.  

Her work with NSBE was especially remarkable. Every year she was pushed to take on new challenges and positions that left a positive impact on her and the Black community at McMaster. The club also offered her the opportunity to meet so much more of the Black community, leaving her inspired by the amazing work Black students were accomplishing across education and industry. The NSBE team showed her how much people can achieve when they are motivated, passionate and putting in effort towards a distinct cause. With help from the Mac Eng community, her friends and her newfound skills and motivation, Fadiya landed multiple internships with major companies like Microsoft and Tesla in her fourth year.  

Damilola (far right) at the NSBE Reunion.

As Fadiya advances her career in software engineering, she credits her support system at McMaster who helped her accomplish her goals. 

“I would like to thank God for carrying me through this degree. I also have to thank my family for their endless support and encouragement, they always believed in me before I believed in myself which helped me achieve goals I never thought possible. I would also like to thank my friends for bringing so much light and joy to my degree, though I needed the study sessions, the laughs they brought me were priceless. Finally, I would like to thank the NSBE team and advisors who helped support me a lot this past year and transformed the club into what it is today.” 

Damilola Fadiya
Damilola with her Iron Ring.

As she approaches graduation, Fadiya recalls her fondest memories of McMaster.  

“What I love the most about McMaster is the tight-knit community. I think university is the only place where you can walk into almost any building and you will see a good friend. There is something so special about knowing that when you walk into your favourite library, you will be greeted by countless smiles and long talks that I personally counted as part of my “study session”. The community at McMaster is incredibly kind, supportive and fun and though I won’t be within a 10-minute walk of them now, I’m grateful the friendships still last.” 

Damilola Fadiya
Adam Steacy, a member of the Aerospace Team and recent graduate from the Mechanical Engineering program.

Home to more than 60 clubs and teams, there are unique ways for everyone to get involved at the Faculty of Engineering, and Adam Steacy, a recent graduate from the Mechanical Engineering program is a great example. Steacy built unforgettable relationships and made a significant impact on the McMaster community by working alongside many peers in various clubs and teams, including the McMaster Aerospace Team.  

Steacy always knew he wanted to be involved in one of the technical teams at Mac Eng. However, it wasn’t easy to take the first steps in choosing one of the many clubs and teams available, nor was it easy to learn the scale of the technical knowledge that came with working with the team. Still, Steacy took the leap with courage and persevered through the journey and found the experience incredibly rewarding.  

Adam Steacy with the McMaster Aerospace Team and the radio-controlled (RC) airplane they built.

Taking that first step can be the most difficult part of the whole journey but can reveal many opportunities you may not have previously been aware of. I have learned that by pursuing the things that truly interest you and putting in a deliberate effort, you can achieve many of the goals you set out to accomplish.  

Adam Steacy

Being a part of the Aerospace team has stood out as a defining chapter in Steacy’s life as it showed him the power of building a network of driven, engaged and diverse individuals who wanted to actively contribute to the community. It was a fulfilling experience for Steacy to take part in the engineering process applied to a complex project that combined theory, team management and hands-on building to create large radio-controlled (RC) airplanes that could fly. The combination of unique opportunities allowed him to challenge himself and learn from his peers in a way that was different from anything that he had experienced in the classroom.  

As Steacy’s undergraduate engineering journey ends, he reflects on his time with the team at McMaster and credits his support system.  

“My journey would not have been possible without the support of the engineering faculty who provided a space for us to explore our curiosities and the staff who enabled this exploration to happen. I also want to thank my family for being the biggest supporters throughout all my successes and failures. And most importantly, I must thank my peers who have been by my side for the entirety of this journey. The community of Mac Eng students is truly what makes this shared experience so unique and fulfilling.”  

Adam with his Iron Ring.

As he approaches graduation, Steacy expresses his nostalgia for the memories that will be left behind on McMaster campus.  

I am going to miss the beautiful greenery found on campus in the summer. I highly recommend that everyone takes a chance to explore Mac during the summer to discover the side of campus most of us dont regularly get to see!  

Adam Steacy
Katelyn Wylie, a recent graduate from the Civil Engineering & Society program.

Engineering a brighter future means achieving sustainability; environmental, social and economic sustainability. Students enrolled in the Society program at McMaster learn about the importance of sustainability and how to bring it into everyday practice. Students like Katelyn Wylie, a recent graduate from the Civil Engineering & Society program, hope to spread the importance of sustainability to industry and make a lasting impact on our society.  

As a Torontonian, Wylie dreamed of having an adventurous co-op that took her out of her city comfort zone. In the fall of fourth year, her dream came true. Wylie joined Agonis Group, an engineering consulting company in Melbourne, Australia where she used the Australian sustainability standard (ISC or infrastructure sustainability standard council) for consulting various projects to ensure their impacts were mitigated. She was incredibly grateful for the experience, as the role offered her an immense amount of responsibility and fulfillment. She had the opportunity to travel and explore a new country, leaving her with unforgettable memories.  

Being a part of the Society program at McMaster contributed to Wylie’s educational journey by honing her skills outside of technical knowledge, including literacy and presentational skills. The classes she took in Society included meaningful discussions that helped her refine her opinions and build confidence in her voice. She was empowered to pursue her interests outside of engineering with the electives that were offered, creating a whole new perspective of the world and an interest in a greater variety of potential career paths. For Wylie, choosing Society was one of the best choices she had ever made.

Katelyn with the Agonis Group Young Professionals.

I feel that my experience and involvement in this program will make me better at whatever I decide to do in the future.”

Katelyn Wylie

As Wylie moves on from McMaster, she credits the support system that assisted her and made her international dream come true.  

“There are almost too many people to thank when discussing my Mac Eng journey. My family and friends come first in this list, as I could not have made it through this challenging degree without their unwavering support and kindness. I would also like to thank Dr. Mohamed Hussein, Taylor Stimpson, as well as the Society Program team including Cam Churchill, Anna Sciascetti and Stephanie Haak who have all played a role in my success and experiences. Dr. Robin Zhao hired me to work in his lab the summer after my first year and taught me a lot about the process of research – I’m forever grateful that he took me on as a student just out of first year; Mark Bull, my former manager, taught me about how projects work in industry and allowed me to put my knowledge and skills into practice. He also connected me to the company in Australia, allowing me to have an unforgettable co-op experience; and Agonis Group, who were so willing and supportive of having a student come from the other side of the world to work at the company. The experience would not have been the same with any other company. There are so many more people who supported me throughout my journey, too many to name, but I am so grateful for each and every one of them.”  

Katelyn with her Iron Ring.

As Wylie approaches graduation, she thinks back to what she loved the most about McMaster. 

The community is what Ill miss most about McMaster. Everyone is so supportive, always looking out for each other and helping where needed. I always felt like I was at home on campus, surrounded by friendly faces and people wanting to make a positive change in the world. That is the part that I’ll look back at most in the future, and hopefully help continue to build, now being an alumna.” 

Katelyn Wylie
Nicholas Levantis, a Research student and recent graduate from the Mechatronics Engineering & Management program.

McMaster Engineering is home to ground-breaking research. Students like Nicholas Levantis, a recent graduate from the Mechatronics Engineering & Management program, play a key role in advancing the work that has the power to impact lives across the globe. As a Research Assistant at the McMaster Nuclear Operations and Facilities, Levantis led projects and experiments, allowing him to find his passion for advancing nuclear research.  

Levantis knew he was passionate about engineering since he joined the Fireball Family in 2018, but he wasn’t sure where his passions truly lay when considering a specialization area. After six years of experiential learning opportunities, including co-op and a major in management, Levantis is now graduating with honours, a passion for exploring nuclear research and a full time Research Engineer position at McMaster. 

His research assistant role contributed to his educational journey by enabling him to apply what he learned in the classroom to real world projects. He led the design and fabrication of an experimental irradiation rig for a master’s research project, from gathering requirements from the operations team to putting together a practical plan for design, fabrication and testing for the conduction of irradiations. It felt surreal, Levantis says, to have watched something he created go into the nuclear reactor core.  

(Most left) Nicholas with his capstone team at Capstone Expo.

As Levantis moves on from Research Assistant to a Research Engineer, he reflects on his previous achievements and credits his support system. 

I would like to thank my family, especially my parents, for their continuous support throughout my journey. They always kept me calm when things got stressful and put me in a position to succeed. I also want to thank everyone at McMaster Nuclear Operations and Facilities for not only supporting me but for giving me opportunities and trusting me to take on new challenges. 

Nicholas Levantis
Nicholas with his Iron Ring.

As he approaches graduation, Levantis expressed his excitement at being able to take his next big steps into the future at McMaster.  

I am grateful to be a McMaster employee and to continue spending time on this wonderful campus. Although I will absolutely miss the student life and hanging out in Thode library with friends, I am excited for the new journey ahead of me.  

Nicholas Levantis
Claire Provencher, an Engineering student ambassador and recent graduate from the BTech Automation – Industrial Systems program.

At the heart of our Fireball Family at McMaster Engineering are our young leaders and community builders, like Claire Provencher, a recent graduate from the BTech Automation – Industrial Systems program. As an Engineering Student Ambassador, Provencher had a significant impact on countless students in her pursuit of welcoming and supporting them into the vibrant Mac Eng community.  

Being one of the only women in her engineering stream, Provencher found her passion in continuing the Mac Eng momentum of making engineering a more equitable, diverse and inclusive field within education and industry. Her role as an ambassador to the Faculty was rooted in the hope that the McMaster community would continue to foster a welcoming environment that actively nurtured the participation of women like her, to encourage a new generation of girls and women to engineering and bring with them a wave of creativity, innovation and problem-solving capabilities.  

Her student ambassador role brought her the opportunity to engage with prospective students and their families with confidence and enthusiasm. The role not only empowered her confidence, but also supported her development in becoming the bright, assertive young woman she is today, a woman with the ability to spontaneously answer questions, simplify complex concepts to younger students and address concerns thoughtfully by sharing her personal experiences.  

Being an Engineering Student Ambassador played a crucial role in Provencher’s Mac Eng journey. With her newfound confidence, Provencher continued to deepen her connection to her program by regularly engaging in discussions with professors and administrators, providing her opportunities to stay up to date with the latest developments and initiatives within her department. She also continued to make heartfelt connections with prospective students through conversations about their hopes and ambitions at McMaster.  

(Left) Natalia Kowalska, Liaison Officer, Domestic (Right) Claire Provencher, Engineering Student Ambassador.

“I felt privileged to have these interactions with prospective students as an ambassador, as it allowed me to reflect on my own experiences and therefore made me more informed about my own journey.”

Claire Provencher

As Provencher’s role as an ambassador gave her the tools to create community for others, she reflects on her achievements as she approaches graduation and credits her own support system. 

“Looking back, I realize just how many people have played a part in getting me to where I am today. My family has been my rock, always there to support me through thick and thin. My friends have always made school fun, taught me that it was okay to take life a little less seriously and helped me tackle the toughest classes. They kept me grounded and nudged me out of my comfort zone when I needed it most. They were always there to celebrate the little wins and cry out the hard days. And Calvin, my partner, who has had the most patience with me, especially during those crazy days when I had zero time or energy left in the day. And last but definitely not least, my grandma, she’s my guiding light, the epitome of grace and strength. I aspire to be even half the person she is someday.” 

Claire Provencher with the team of Engineering Student Ambassadors.

Now preparing to enter the professional engineering field, the passion to see more women like her in the field is one Provencher will carry forward with her. As she takes the next leap in her journey, Provencher says she will cherish the friendships, memories and the collaborative environment of McMaster that fostered a spirit of teamwork and camaraderie.  

“I will miss the sense of independence and the joy of discovery that came with each new challenge. From studying with friends to helping potential students find their new home at campus open houses, every experience has been meaningful. McMaster has been more than just a place to study; it has been a home where I grew both academically and personally. I will miss it immensely.”

Claire Provencher