Star students and employers celebrated at annual co-op recognition event – Faculty of Engineering

Star students and employers celebrated at annual co-op recognition event

a pamphlet sitting on a table at an event.

McMaster Engineering has a lot to celebrate during National Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Month. Its co-operative education program is the second largest in Ontario, supporting a record number of undergraduate and graduate co-op opportunities in the Faculty’s history. Through paid, flexible co-op terms, students gain invaluable on-the-job experience that contributes to their career preparedness and skill development.

Stand-out students and employers in Mac Eng’s robust co-operative education and experiential learning ecosystem were honoured at the Engineering Co-op & Career Services (ECCS)-hosted Co-op Student and Employer of the Year Recognition Celebration at Alumni Hall on March 19.

Below are the 2023 award recipients and honourees:

Undergraduate Co-op Student of the Year

person standing in front of a McMaster University sign holding an award.

Irenaeus Wong

Program: Materials Science and Engineering

Co-op Placement: Rivian Automotive LLC

Irenaeus is a final year Materials Engineering undergraduate student passionate about accelerating materials discovery and manufacturing with data science for equitable outcomes in education, materials for renewable energy and catalytic capital in the context of ESG investing. 

At his most recent internship at Rivian Automotive, Irenaeus worked across sites in Irvine and Palo Alto California and Normal, Illinois, to make impacts on battery manufacturing and battery materials qualification through forensic data science, data engineering for battery test automation, and materials modeling.

Co-op is an opportunity to discover yourself as much as it is to discover engineering in the world. Rivian’s internship cohort program has students from diverse backgrounds and walks of life come together to solve their most pressing problems while occasionally sponsoring opportunities to explore the local areas to connect and learn from one another.

Irenaeus Wong

Graduate Co-op Student of the Year

person standing in front of a McMaster University sign holding an award.

Maryam Alizadeh

Program: PhD Mechanical Engineering

Co-op Placement: Cubic

Maryam Alizadeh, who holds a a B.Sc. from Amirkabir University of Technology in Tehran and M.A.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from McMaster, is currently pursuing a PhD at McMaster University. Her focus lies in developing energy management control systems for electric vehicles (EVs) and connected vehicles. Formerly a researcher at the Centre of Excellence for Artificial Intelligence and Smart Mobility within the Mobility-Cube program at the McMaster Automotive Resource Centre (MARC), Maryam played a vital role in initiating and leading three significant projects. 

In 2023, she completed an eight-month co-op as a computer vision engineer at Cubic Transportation Systems. Maryam’s research interests include energy management in EVs using multi-source data and integrating V2X applications, showcasing her passion to ongoing innovation in this dynamic field.

Throughout this co-op, I’ve acquired invaluable technical skills and improved my ability to collaborate with a diverse team. Working with managers and fellow colleagues, the experience fostered creativity and enhanced my confidence, both in technical aspects and public speaking.

Maryam Alizadeh

Co-op Employers of the Year

The employers recognized at the event this year were nominated by a student who participated in a co-op at their company. Among the full list, the following companies were selected by a committee and awarded Co-op Employers of the Year:

three men standing in front of a McMaster University sign holding an award.
Justin Knebel (left), Gurveer Singh (center), Sriram Suryanarayan (right)

Best Employer for Co-op/Internship Students – Large Employer (500 employees or more)


Kinectrics was highlighted by students as an employer who is committed to providing a supportive and enriching environment for professional growth. They foster innovation, diversity and inclusion both within the organization and the community. Students engaged with high-impact projects, allowing them to develop critical skills needed for success in their field. They are committed to continuous improvement and are always working to improve the quality of their co-op program and development opportunities for students. 

two men standing in front of a McMaster University sign holding an award.
Said Ismail (left) and Mazen Habash (right)

Best Employer for Co-op/Internship Students – Small to Medium Sized Employer (499 employees or less)

Origins and Cause

Origin and Cause was highlighted by students as an employer who fully immersed students in all aspects of the forensic field and allowed them to see theory in action. They created a space that was welcoming and inclusive and allowed students to feel comfortable learning and sharing their thoughts and opinions. The team is genuinely passionate for the work they do and were committed to seeing students succeed and grow through the co-op experiences.

two women standing in front of a McMaster University sign holding an award.
Emilia Ashton (left) and Christina Sisson (right)

Best Employer for Co-op/Internship Students – Emerging (Hiring McMaster Engineering Co-op Students for Two Years or Less)

City of Kawartha Lakes

From day one, the City of Kawartha Lakes, Development Engineering Division allowed students to be seen and treated as if they were a full-time member of the team. Through becoming immersed in all aspects of the company, students developed not only strong technical skills, but also essential transferable skills, giving students the confidence to be even more successful when returning to academic studies. The team felt like family, and the support that was given to students while on co-op extended beyond the work experience, continuing to be a source of encouragement and assistance, even after they concluded the experience. 

Recognition of co-op employers

Also nominated by students as exceptional employers were:

AMD (Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.) 

Apple Inc. 


Burloak Technologies 

Boston Scientific Corporation 

Citi Bank  

Flodraulic Controls

GE HealthCare – National Service Centre 

General Motors 

Give and Go Prepared Foods-Mondelez 

Hamilton Health Sciences 

Hydro One Limited 

Iridian Spectral Technologies Ltd


Lyngsoe Systems 

National Research Council of Canada 

Ontario Shipyards


Synaptive Medical



Verv Technologies 

WSP Canada

Future leaders

The following students were Co-op Student of the Year finalists for McMaster Engineering.


AlinaYingsi Zeng

Anthony Almonte

Fatemeh Zahirisaransari

Iyah Alideeb

Jianlan Ding

Jil Shah

Kileigh Harrington

Lingyi Zhuo

Luca Scanga

Luxmy Thulasinathan

Michael Knapman

Raina Chamberlain

Ryan Degroot


Jithin Varghese

The importance of work-integrated learning

The commitment to deliver an unparalleled student experience through experiential learning is a core value at McMaster Engineering, especially for the co-operative education team.

“When students have the opportunity to participate in work-integrated learning, these experiences provide much more than something they can add to their resume. Oftentimes it brings new perspective, supports skill development, creates avenues for professional networking and even provides improved clarity about career goals/direction.”

Stephanie Harper, Associate Director of Co-op & Career Services

“Our industry partners are critical to the success of these experiences and valued members of the MacEng community,” says Harper. “CEWIL Month is a time to celebrate and recognize our students, employers and national partners/colleagues for their role in driving the success of Canada’s future workforce.”