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Meet five 2021 Mac Eng graduates June 4, 2021

In the much-anticipated weeks leading up to the Faculty’s virtual convocation on June 18, we asked five graduating students to reflect on their undergraduate experiences at McMaster Engineering.

Tiffany Tse, a Golden Key Society member and classical pianist; Georgina Kosanic, an aspiring quadrilingual and soon-to-be Masters student; Fuad Ali, starting a career at SpaceX and host of the Next Iteration Podcast; Natasha Varghese, a well-travelled, software developer, and Erin Puersten, a minor in music and is on her way to Medical School, share advice with current students, their best experiences, and what their plans are after graduation. Keep scrolling to read their stories.

Interested in learning more? Tune in throughout the month as each grad takes over the @mcmastereng Instagram account.

To share a short message congratulating our grads - any grads - you can check out or Kudoboard!

 

Tiffany Tse [Electrical Engineering]

She has also been a part of the McMaster University Concert Band and McMaster University Chamber Orchestra throughout her undergraduate career, embracing her love for music and performance. Tiffany completed her ARCT in Piano Performance Diploma, receiving a standing of First Class Honours with Distinction along with the highest national mark of the year.Tiffany is currently a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society, as the top 15% in academic standing within her program and is a recipient of the HydroOne Women in Engineering scholarship award.

1. What was your best experience at McMaster outside of the classroom?
Living with my friends! I’ve learned not only to be independent and away from home, but also to look after others. Being an only child, I loved the fact that I could knock on the door next to me and talk to my friends whenever I needed it. It was always a fun time and definitely one of my favourite memories from undergrad.

2. What is your biggest takeaway from your undergraduate studies?
Any skill can be acquired. I love telling this to younger students, because when I was in first year, I never thought I would be able to do any kind of software/coding. Fast forward through 4 years and 4 internships, I realized that I could do it, and I also really enjoy it. You can gain any skill you put your heart and mind to, and never fear new challenges. Stop thinking you can’t, because you absolutely can!

3. What events did you enjoy the most at McMaster/Hamilton?
DeltaHacks, it was always my favourite weekend, meeting people from different universities who have come to learn and innovate.

The Capstone Virtual Expo was also very memorable. Our team designed a smart fitness mat using pressure sensors to track a user’s workout in real time, and received the Outstanding Achievement Award from the ECE Department. It was so interesting to see other innovative projects and present our hard work in a smooth and successful virtual booth!

4. Tell us something really interesting about you.
I am a classical pianist and have been competing and performing since I was 6 years old. Music is my favourite thing to do!

5. Who is your favourite professor and why?
Dr. Bakr and Dr. Haddara – they were not only great lecturers but also spent time getting to know their students, learning their names and they have made my time at Mac more enjoyable through their passion for teaching.

6. What will you be doing/see yourself doing after graduation?
I will be continuing my career at AMD, working as a full-time engineer graduate. I also hope to get back into piano performance!

7. What book are you currently reading, or show are you currently watching?
I just finished Schitt’s Creek for the second time around. Debating on whether I should go for a third round. It’s my favourite show ever!!

Georgina Kosanic [B.Tech Automotive and Vehicle Technology Program]

She’s had the opportunity to work at multiple co-ops such as Edson Pro Mach Built, Magna Exteriors, and Ford Motor Company. In her final year of B.Tech capstone she was part of a group that created a Smart Electric Golf cart, which she created an app that would have the prototype follow the smartphone via GPS and Bluetooth.Georgina Kosanic is from Niagara Falls and is a first-generation immigrant from Serbia. She’s the first from her family to have graduated from university.

1. What was your best experience at McMaster outside of the classroom?
One of the best experiences at McMaster outside of the classroom has got to be welcome week and move in day. I had so much fun at all the events and got to meet so many people.

2. What is your biggest takeaway from your undergraduate studies?
Intelligence matters but effort and persistence help you in the long run. Don’t forget to have fun.

3. What events did you enjoy the most at McMaster/Hamilton?
I enjoyed the McMaster light up the night events every year, as well as the super crawl in downtown Hamilton.

4. Tell us something interesting about you.
I’m trilingual and currently learning a fourth language.

5. Who is your favourite professor and why?
My favourite professor is Dr. Timber Yuen because of all the interactive lectures and involvement with all students. He not only teaches, but helps you succeed in finding co-op opportunities for students and connections to the industry.

6. What will you be doing/see yourself doing after graduation?
I will be continuing my studies at McMaster in the Master of Applied Science program within the mechanical engineering department.

7. What’s one silver lining or lesson that’s come out of the COVID-19 pandemic?
It gave an opportunity for the world to reset and let nature recover all over the world.

Fuad Ali [Electrical and Biomedical Engineering]

Fuad is starting off his career at SpaceX! While at Mac, he did internships as a software engineer for Tesla, Twitter, and the CIA.

In his spare time, he’s the host of the Next Iteration Podcast, where he interviews some of the leading minds in tech and business, including VPs of Engineering at Twitter, and Venture Capitalists.

1. What would you say to your first-year self?
I would tell my first-year self to trust the process. In university, you’re surrounded by high achievers, and it’s easy to think that you’re constantly playing a game of catch up and that everyone around you is way more capable and qualified than you are. Don’t focus on that. Focus on yourself and making the most of all the opportunities that come your way.

2. What was your best experience at McMaster outside of the classroom?
Engineering Rugby! I got the chance to be captain of the Engineering rugby team, and it was a ton of fun touring other schools and playing tournaments at UOttawa. Some of my best friends were made on the field.

3. After convocation you step outside and find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
I would pay off my student debt and help out my family first for sure! Afterwards, I would use the remaining money to start my own company, most likely something within the biotech sphere. I think the field of sleep science is particularly super interesting; there’s still so much we don’t know about sleep and the brain.

4. Who is your favourite professor and why?
My favorite professor is Dr. Haddara! I had the chance to both study under him and interview him for the Next Iteration Podcast. He’s an amazing person, who gave me some much-needed mentorship when I was applying for graduate school programs, as he himself did his PhD at Stanford.

5. What will you be doing/see yourself doing after graduation?
After I graduate, I’m headed to Texas to work at SpaceX. I’ll be building the rocket that recently won the NASA Lunar Landing contract, and will eventually take the first humans to Mars

6. What book are you currently reading, or show are you currently watching?
I’m currently reading Liftoff by Eric Berger; it’s a fascinating account of the early days of SpaceX, and how they overcame some insane challenges to get to the position they are in today.

7. What’s one silver lining or lesson that’s come out of the COVID-19 pandemic?
The silver lining was having the ability to meet people online! I’ve made so many friends online that I wouldn’t have been able to meet in person and have got a lot of practice opening up to people over Zoom! Though I would love to see them in person, I’m glad I’ve been able to build those connections virtually.

Erin Puersten [Mechatronics Engineering]

Erin has spent the last five years enjoying everything McMaster Engineering has to offer including research experiences, co-op placements, and extra-curricular activities.

She’s been a part of the Engineering Musical, the McMaster Chamber Orchestra, McMaster Baja, and the McMaster Welcome Week Representative team. She’s completed three co-op terms included 4 months at 360 insights, working on the data analytics software for rebate processing, 4 months at Bionik Laboratories, helping develop an operating system for a healthcare robot, and 4 months of course development on the new 1P13 course.

1. What would you say to your first-year self?
During and after University you’ll have to make decisions that can feel pretty permanent. Usually, your decision has to meet a rapidly approaching deadline as well, so make up your mind as best you can, but stay open-minded and don’t be afraid to take opportunities that could expose you to new things. Sometimes changing your mind and adjusting your plan is easy, other times it may add a few courses or feel like wasted time, but part of your education at Mac Eng should be finding something you’re truly passionate about. Don’t be afraid to change your mind!

2. What was your best experience at McMaster outside of the classroom?
What a difficult question! I could tell you about my time with the McMaster Engineering Musical or the McMaster Chamber Orchestra. I could tell you about my friends - playing pool in the basement of Brandon Hall or busing down to the movie theatre in Jackson Square. I could tell you how much I enjoyed giving tours to prospective students or about the amazing first years I worked with as a TA. I could tell you about all of these things, but in reality, my best experience at McMaster is the combination of all of these amazing experiences. When I look back on my time, I don’t see one moment that sticks out, but a large mosaic full of wonderful moments.

3. What is your biggest takeaway from your undergraduate studies?
My biggest takeaway is that soft skills and things you learn outside the classroom will stick with you far longer than technical skills you learn in the classroom. In the world of technology or medicine, things change so rapidly that your undergraduate education is more about learning how to learn, work in teams, communicate, and achieve a work-life balance than it is about learning one specific theorem or programming language. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to participate in several co-op placements, get involved in extra-curricular activities, and make exceptional friends – these are the true lessons and benefits I will take away from my time at McMaster.

4. Tell us something interesting about you.
After 2nd year, I decided to extend my degree and take a Minor in Music!

5. After convocation you step outside and find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
Well, first I’d want to make sure someone around me hadn’t just dropped the ticket – certainly easier said than done. If no one claims it, I’d want to take care of my family first then invest money to support community organizations that mean a lot to me. For example, the community Youth Orchestra where my love of music was fostered, and my leadership was encouraged. I would also love to support innovation in medicine as there are so many amazing research pursuits that will change the face of medicine over the next 10-20 years.

6. Who is your favourite professor and why?
Without hesitation - Dr. Colin McDonald. If you were in his class or one of his TA’s you know exactly what I why. If you weren’t, just know that he is the most supportive, accommodating professor and he takes special efforts to ensure his courses encourage innovative thinking and strong teamwork. Plus, his children are absolutely adorable when they crash his online meetings.

7. What will you be doing/see yourself doing after graduation?
I’ll be starting Medical School at the University of Toronto in the Fall. I’m extremely excited to be pursuing a career in a field I’m passionate about and a field where there is so much innovation just around the corner.

Natasha Varghese [Computer Science Program]

Natasha was involved with many student groups during her undergrad such as McMaster Engineering Society, DeltaHacks, and the McMaster Interdisciplinary Satellite Team.

She had the opportunity of working at some cool co-ops and attended a ton of Hackathons that ultimately helped her get a full-time job after graduation.

1. What would you say to your first-year self?
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! I know it sounds pretty cliche, but if there’s a club or event you’re interested in, don’t let your fear of “not being good enough” or “needing more experience” keep you from trying out. Everyone really loves when first years actively get involved with the community!

2. What was your best experience at McMaster outside of the classroom?
It would probably be all the times I got to help out first year Computer Science and Engineering students during Welcome Week. Getting to spend quality time with them plus all of the other wonderful reps really kicked off the school year right.

3. What is your biggest takeaway from your undergraduate studies?
Keep trying new things! Now is the time for you to learn and figure out what interests you! There are so many opportunities available for students nowadays, such as conferences, hackathons, competitions, etc. Even if something doesn’t turn out exactly like how you planned, take it as a learning experience.

4. What events did you enjoy the most at McMaster/Hamilton?
I was a part of DeltaHacks, McMaster’s annual Hackathon, for 2 years. It was a fantastic opportunity to be able to host an event that allowed students from all over Canada to learn new things and network with fantastic company representatives and mentors!

5. Tell us something interesting about you.
I’ve lived in Dubai, Calgary and Houston!

6. Who is your favourite professor and why?
Dr. Fei Chiang always had such interesting and engaging lectures that combined the theory and application of relational databases very well!

7. What will you be doing/see yourself doing after graduation?
I am currently working full-time as a Software Developer for a microsatellite start-up called GHGSAT, which utilizes emission sensing and data technology to help various industries decarbonize their activities! In my spare time I love working out, cooking and sharpening my technical skills.

8. What book are you currently reading, or show are you currently watching?
The last book I read was The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, it was definitely one of my favorites.

9. What’s one silver lining or lesson that’s come out of the COVID-19 pandemic?
During the pandemic, I actually found that I got closer to my family. We all live very far apart, and unfortunately I wasn’t able to see them for the holidays this year, but I think the distance made me really value our weekly calls and the time we could spend (virtually) with each other.