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SFU Alumni

Tayme Stewart's SFU journey from childhood to Sustainable Energy Engineering

June 03, 2024

Few students have as long and storied a connection to their university as Tayme Stewart, an inaugural graduate from the Faculty of Applied Science’s Sustainable Energy Engineering (SEE) program who was, quite literally, born and raised at SFU.

The daughter of alumnus Kym (MA, PhD) and Dana Stewart, who came to pursue graduate studies at SFU in the 1990s, Tayme was born in Louis Riel House, a former student residence for families on Burnaby campus. She spent many of her early years roaming campus and the beautiful natural surroundings with her parents and other children of the close-knit community. Both Tayme and her mother Kym remember those days fondly.

“My earliest memories are probably running through the halls of West Mall or the AQ with my friends,” Tayme recalls. “We spent hours building forts and exploring the forest outside. I don’t think any of us knew we were on a university campus—to us, it was just home!”

“Thinking back, it was quite idyllic,” Kym reminisces. “There were lots of other children and families around—we made lifelong friends during that special time. On top of the strong residence community, Dana and I both had terrific supervisors. Everyone was supportive and welcoming toward our little family. Tayme even attended one of my first research meetings when she was just a month old!

“I remember we had access to a small community garden which Tayme participated in when she was little. She loved being outside, planting seeds.”

From cradle to capstone

Tayme will cross the stage to receive her BASc in Sustainable Energy Engineering (SEE) during convocation this June and has already landed a job as a consultant with Kane Consulting, a sustainable building firm based in downtown Vancouver. She envisioned herself attending SFU from an early age, and says she was particularly drawn to SEE for the way it intertwines studies in science and technology, with innovation and sustainability.

“Having spent so much time on campus and then also attending SFU Camps as a kid, I certainly felt early on that I could be and wanted to be an SFU student. After starting my degree and taking science courses, the new SEE program was just being promoted and it sparked my curiosity. I always had an interest in science, but the chance to combine that with sustainability and make a positive difference in energy transition and the environment—it was so exciting! I ended up delaying declaring my major so that I could apply for the program, and I’m so happy I did!”

Tayme’s enthusiasm for the program is palpable, especially when she describes her unique capstone project, which saw her collaborate with peers to design an energy storage conversion system for a residential house. This hands-on experience deepened her understanding of sustainable engineering and provided a glimpse into the real-world impact of her field.

“It was an 8-month long process, and much more hands-on compared to my previous classes. We designed an electrical and thermal energy storage conversion for a residential house, and the broad concept was completely up to us to research and plan to implement. In addition to talking with a real-life client, and planning a retrofit of his house, we had the opportunity to visit the site, talk to architects, and more. Although it was intimidating at times, because we had a lot of independence, it also pushed us. It was an incredible experience!”

Nurturing wonder and creativity

Kym isn’t surprised at her daughter’s remarkable commitment and passion for her work. When asked whether her own or Dana’s academic pursuits impacted their approach to parenting and Tayme’s education, Kym says absolutely.

“I came to SFU to work with Steve Kline, a professor emeritus in the School of Communication, and the late Kieren Egan, a philosopher in Education. Steve was investigating the role of media in the lives of children and that was also my area of focus—the implications of children’s heavy media use. Dana is a scientist and artist, so he brought a lot of lovely scientific knowledge and curiosity to our lives.

“We were both committed to the idea that children have a beautiful capacity to engage with the world and be naturally curious. I like to joke that Tayme our little experiment; she’s the best of both of us,” she laughs, “but really Dana and I just nurtured the amazing creativity and curiosity that was already there—it’s all from her!”

Tayme concurs, noting that one of the best things about her experiences at SFU and within SEE is following her passion and finding people with shared interests and commitment. “Honestly, it has been incredible to be in this program among people who are also so passionate and dedicated—from my peers to my professors. I’m so excited to continue my consulting work and keep working in this field!”