Student Stories

Scholarship Winner Stories  

 

Jasleen Grewal

Jasleen Grewal recalls the moment a life-changing email landed in her inbox: she had been selected for a summer internship at Harvard’s prestigious Stem Cell Institute internship. “I was in class when I read the email – it was hard to pay attention to the lecture after that,” she laughs. “As soon as class wrapped up, I called my parents in India."

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Nadia Ciobanu

A top student from Port Moody Secondary School, Nadia Ciobanu is the inaugural recipient of a scholarship established by faculty alumnus Amyn Rajan, CEO of Simba Technologies. Awarded to the top female student entering SFU’s School of Computing Science, the Rajan Family Undergraduate Entrance Scholarship is valued at $20,000.

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Emre Erhan

Following in the footsteps of his SFU professor father Halil Erhan, Emre Erhan hopes to make his mark on the world and then share his knowledge through teaching. As the 2013 recipient of the Dean’s Academic Excellence Scholarship valued at $12,000, he’s already headed in the right direction – but first, he wants to soak up the intellectual and social variety of life at SFU.

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Paul Vicol

Paul Vicol is living out his childhood fantasy. He received two NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA), each valued at $4,500, for two semesters of research studying belief change, a subfield of artificial intelligence (AI), under the supervision of SFU professor James Delgrande. Vicol is one of the first people to analyze belief change operations and their importance in real-life applications.

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Di Fu

“I think everyone who studies computing science dreams of making computers more like humans,” says Di Fu, referencing the popular film Her, which examines a world where people form relationships with advanced operating systems. “I feel computers can bring people warmth and love. They are no longer just pieces of metal; they can be more than just a tool or machine.”

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Vivian Xu

With plenty of hard work, and a dash of daring, dreams can become reality. Now a software engineer at Twitter in San Francisco, Vivian Xu had never been outside China when she boarded a Vancouver-bound plane six years ago. A top student, who graduated with an almost perfect GPA, Xu received several scholarships and awards.

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Graduate Student Stories  

 

Maryam Siahbani

“There’s always been a problem with computer-based language translating and people have been asking for this to be solved ever since computing began,” says PhD candidate Maryam Siahbani, explaining her research within SFU’s Natural Language Laboratory. “There were great early successes with code-breaking but human language is much more complex and very hard to model.”

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Fatemeh Riahi 

Focusing on outlier detection for structured data while pursuing her PhD in the Computational Logic Laboratory, Fatemeh Riahi has developed a new metric based on statistical modeling. Improving the ability to identify unusual features of individuals, teams or other subjects from a mass of data, the solution can be used to extrapolate common factors behind the success of actors, sports stars or even movies.

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Juhua Hu

Despite publishing complex academic papers at some of the world’s top data mining conferences, busy PhD candidate Juhua Hu’s work – and life – is fully grounded in the real world. “My research is very practical,” she says. “We’re making digital photo indexing much more effective so you can search more easily and then share them more efficiently with your friends.”

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Student Stories  

 

Adam Bolding-Jones

Adam Bolding-Jones is determined to live life without regrets. When he moved to China in 2012 to study computing science with SFU’s dual degree program (DDP), he spoke no Chinese and had never lived abroad before. But what he lacked in experience, he made up for with enthusiasm.

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Corbett Gildersleve

In high school, Corbett’s history teacher imparted some valuable advice to his fledgling students: “If you go to university, learn a language,” he said. “It will make you more marketable.” These words still resonated with Corbett almost 10 years later when he embarked on a journey to Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China, to study and learn Mandarin with SFU’s Dual Degree Program (DDP) in Computing Science.

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Fedora Furtado

When Fedora was a child, she would sit at her desk and dream of one day becoming a marine biologist. But after taking an elective IT course in high school on the advice of her computing science graduate cousin, her daydreams soon turned from dolphins to data. “At first, I thought, ‘why not?’ but I ended up really liking it. It’s the ubiquity of software that inspired me: it’s everywhere and it branches into everything.”

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Nicholas Hoekstra

Nicholas got bitten by the tech bug at a young age when he dabbled in web creation and HTML, but it wasn’t until high school that he realized he could turn his hobby into a career. Keen to “delve right in,” his interest was piqued by SFU’s computing science program. A curious mind, a drive to experiment, and the ability to think outside the box are important skills for computing science students, says Nicholas.

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David Woods

David Woods (B.Sc. in Computing Science, '15), who graduated this fall with an almost perfect GPA (4.24/4.33), is proof that when it comes to landing a dream job, many roads lead to Rome. Raised in England, Woods says his childhood dream jobs included a garbage truck driver, lawyer and investment banker.

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Sara Martinez

Sara describes the Software Systems (SoSy) program, offered at SFU’s Surrey campus, as a “very welcoming small community.” An admittedly shy student in high school, Sara blossomed in the program’s supportive environment and smaller class sizes. “The SoSy staff and students were so helpful and welcoming and that made for a smooth transition from high school to university,” she says.

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Co-op Stories  

 

Daniel Paulino

Studying computing science at SFU can open doors to new and exciting fields you never knew existed. Take Daniel Paulino, a joint major in computing science and molecular biology, who had never heard of a field called bioinformatics until he started at SFU. Now he’s on an eight-month co-op placement with the Genome Sciences Centre.

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Devin Kavanagh

Since high school, Devin knew he wanted to make gaming more than a hobby. Like many burgeoning developers, he started off small – creating simple games like a tic-tac-toe clone. “I’ve always liked games and I’ve played since I was little,” he says. “When it comes to development, I learned by building and trying things out. I failed a lot of course, but that’s how you grow.”

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Evgeny Vinnik

Evgeny found that setting ambitious goals helped keep him motivated to excel. During his second term, he was determined to learn to write a Software Development Specification (SDS) for a new functionality required by a project plan. He succeeded, and delivered the entire feature almost by himself.  

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Matthew Torgerson

On his current co-op placement in Sunnyvale, California, Matthew’s work cube is in Intuitive Surgical’s development lab, surrounded by high-tech surgical-assisting robots. “You can use them when it’s open,” he says matter-of-factly. “A couple of weeks ago, I opened up a candy wrapper using one of the robotic arms.”

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Parminder Benipal

Parminder secured an eight-month co-op position as client support technician with the Genome Sciences Centre. This leading international centre for genomics and bioinformatics research hosts the latest equipment for DNA sequencing, operating on highly powerful computers and high-speed networks. As a client support technician, Parminder tracked and resolved issues.

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