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Co-op students

Top co-op students shine brightly

May 15, 2008

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By John Grant

Tristen Gilchrist and Paul Carriere (above, l to r) are not just exceptional students and university ambassadors, they’re also key team members within their respective co-op employment environments.

The pair were named SFU’s 2008 co-op students of the year in acknowledgement of their initiative and passion to influence and motivate not only themselves but also the people around them.

Carriere, who was also named this year’s top co-op student by the B.C. chapter of the Association Co-operative Education, was recognized for his outstanding work performance at Burnaby’s D-Wave Systems, the world’s first and only source of quantum computing for commercial applications. The senior engineering science student, armed with a 4.15 grade point average, worked easily alongside PhD researchers on the development of the world’s first practical quantum computer.

"The job gave me some excellent experience along with a new perspective into what type of work I wish to pursue," says Carriere, who has also been volunteering with Engineers Without Borders for the past three years.

"Also, working with other engineers made me realize the skills that I have to improve on to become successful."

As a chemistry co-op student, Gilchrist spent his third and fourth co-op work terms working with Burnaby’s Xenon Pharmaceuticals. He was part of an interdisciplinary team charged with the discovery and development of novel drug candidates for the treatment of chronic pain.

Despite the significant level of chemical complexity involved, Gilchrist rapidly caught on and through his work was able to develop results that show promising pharmacological properties. So promising, his efforts will likely be incorporated into an upcoming patent application submission.

Like Carriere, Gilchrist also finds time for volunteer work, in his case as member of the AIDS Vancouver reception services team.

"When I look back at my experience with co-operative education, the strangest thing to me is that I originally did not intend to do it," says Gilchrist.

"As it turns out, going into co-op was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made."

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