Waterloo Engineering Speaker Series

About WESS

Waterloo Engineering Speaker Series (WESS) is a speaker series run by Engineering students, for Engineering students. We aim to bring in speakers each term to give an engaging and interesting presentation about how they got to where they are, their research and work, or another topic of their own interest.

Coming Up Next

Dr. Chae-Ho Yim – DEC.3 at 6PM

Presentation Title: The Future of Battery Technology and Machine Learning

Topic: Chae-Ho is a Research Council Officer in National Research Council Canada (NRC). He has graduated with a double major in BASc in Chemical Engineering and BSc in Biochemistry from University of Ottawa in 2008, and has received MASc in Chemical Engineering from University of Ottawa in 2011. Since graduation he has worked on Li-ion battery materials R&D in NRC as a Battery Material Research Engineer. He has participated in many research projects on Li-ion battery materials on cathode, anode and electrolytes. Currently, he is working on development of the cathode and electrolyte materials using machine learning.

Chae-Ho will talk about his work as an engineer at NRC, introduce Li-ion batteries as general and some projects he has participated in.

Past Speakers

Clarisse Schneider – NOV.29 at 11AM

Presentation Title: Strategizing Your Co-ops, Finding Balance, and Defining Yourself

Bio: I am a SE 2017 graduate who loves to come back to Waterloo for recruiting and outreach events!

I strategized using my 6 co-ops to decide location, size of company, and tech stack that would work best for me and ultimately ended up at Facebook in Seattle working on Messenger video calling for iOS. 

When I was at Waterloo, I was very involved in EngSoc (founding EngHack, producing an EngPlay, among other directorships) and also put on several conferences including the Conference for Diversity in Engineering as well as the Future Female Techmakers Conference which was programmed for both high school and undergraduate women. 

Now that I’m out in the real world, my hobbies include: singing bass in a woman’s Barbershop chorus, community orchestra, D&D, hockey, puzzle events, weightlifting, and sulking that all my hobbies are cancelled due to COVID. Except knitting.

Dr. Amir M. Kaynia – NOV. 22 at 11AM (Calling from Norway)

Presentation Title: Offshore Wind Turbines – Design, Installation and monitoring

Topic: The talk will introduce the latest developments in offshore wind energy and its global perspective, types of turbines and their foundations, methods of installation and program for monitoring long-term performance of these structures. 

About Dr. Amir M. Kaynia:
PhD Structural Engineering, MIT 

Technical Expert in Earthquake Engineering
Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (www.ngi.no)

Norway Adjunct Professor of Structural Engineering
Norwegian Univ. of Science & Tech. (NTNU)
Trondheim, Norway

Expertise & Activities: As an expert on structural and soil dynamics, I perform research and engineering in a variety of projects dealing with Earthquake engineering, Foundation design, Offshore platforms and wind turbines, and High-speed rail design. I also teach Earthquake Engineering at NTNU and supervise Master’s and PhD students.

Dr. Thomas Sayre-Mccord – NOV. 15 at 11AM (Calling from Germany)

Presentation Title: Soon.

Topic: Thomas Sayre-McCord is an Autonomous Systems engineer whose designed, built, and deployed multiple robotic systems underwater, on the ocean, and in the air. He received his PhD in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2018 as a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Engineering Laboratory (CSAIL). He is currently the Advanced Autonomy Function Lead at Lilium, GmbH, a startup in Munich focusing on reinventing the future of clean mobility.  

In this talk he will describe the path he took to end up specializing in autonomy, and share some of the research and experiences from his PhD: from theoretical algorithms (optimal motion planning with resource constraints), to in-field applications (piloting drones in Antarctica), to fun in the lab (high speed autonomous drone racing).

Amr Abdelgawad – NOV. 6 at 6PM

Presentation Title/Topic: How to find the right problem to solve and create the right solution to solve it. 

Bio: Amr is a Nanotechnology Engineer by training and background. His passion for healthcare has pushed him towards joining NERv in order to provide better resources for physicians to make more informed decisions regarding their patients. Over the years, Amr has been able to develop his business acumen through the Master’s of Business, Entrepreneurship, and Technology (MBET) program at the University of Waterloo and by leading the operations, finance, and business development activities at NERv. Amr is also the 2016 Ontario Student Entrepreneur of the Year, the 2016 runner-up Canada Student Entrepreneur of the Year, the 2017 Canada Student Entrepreneur of the Year, and a 2017 TEDxUW speaker.

Watch here!

Dr. Andrew Pelling – OCT. 30 at 6PM

Presentation Title: Unapologetic Curiosity – Learning to Balance Risk, Creativity and Boredom in Science, Invention and Entrepreneurship

Topic: Award winning Scientist, Professor, Entrepreneur, TED Senior Fellow and TED speaker, Andrew Pelling has built a career on unapologetic curiosity, creativity and serendipity. He is a Canada Research Chair at the University of Ottawa, where his research lab brings together scientists, engineers and artists to explore speculative living technologies of the future with low-cost materials and methods. For instance, the lab created body parts made from plants and has grown living skins on LEGOs, in short, innovations with the potential to redefine the limits of biology. Dr. Pelling is the co-founder and CSO of Spiderwort, a company dedicated to developing plant-based biomaterials for repairing and regenerating the human body. He also co-founded pHacktory, a street-level research lab that amplifies community ideas through a potent mixture of craft, serendipity and curiosity. Dr. Pelling’s work has been well covered by the media, in outlets such as Wired, Motherboard, The Atlantic, Scientific American, BBC and the Discovery Channel.

Erin Ransom – Oct 25. At 11am

Presentation Title: Becoming a Leader


A long-time employee of BlackBerry, Erin has witnessed the meteoric rise of BlackBerry, the fall out and ultimately the rebuilding of the company into a software and services business. As the company pivoted, she worked as a Global Leader in Business and Sales Operations, restructuring business process and sales systems, and supporting the sales organization through several acquisitions. Erin has an undergraduate degree from the University of Waterloo and an MBA from Wilfrid Laurier University. Today she manages teams responsible for Global Analytics, Customer Master & Data Governance, Order Management and Business Operations, including product ownership of Blackberry’s implementation of Salesforce.

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Weilong Wu – OCT. 9 at 8pm (Calling from China)

Presentation Title:  the Automation & Robotics Industry


Weilong Wu graduated from Waterloo as a member of the Software Engineering class of 2018. He is the cofounder & Tech Lead at Roboeye Inc. He has also worked full-time as a Machine Learning Engineer at SnapTravel and Wechat. He will be speaking about the state of industrial automation and about various aspects of his company – Roboeye.

Dr. Holly Dole – OCT. 4 at 6pm

Presentation Title: Converting CO2 Emissions from Bad to Better

Topic: Dr. Holly Dole obtained her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Ottawa in 2016, where her project focused on the removal of volatile organic compounds from the air through the development of new nano-structured catalysts. She is currently a Research Scientist at Natural Resources Canada while teaching part-time at Algonquin College in the Department of Applied Science and Environmental Technology. She will give an overview of post-combustion capturing of CO2 and utilization at pilot-scale, with a focus on the process of converting CO2 to valuable fuels (eg. gasoline, diesel). Experience from engineering design to developing new catalysts will be discussed.

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Leon Jiang – SEP. 25 at 6pm

Presentation Title: Engineer to Entrepreneur

Topic: Leon graduated from Waterloo in 2017 with a Bac. degree in Software Engineering. He is the founder of City From Naught, an indie game studio, while he also works full time as a senior AI engineer at Snaptravel. He will be talking about how he founded his own company while holding a full time job.