February 03, 2017

SIAT Students Shine at STEM Spotlight Awards


By Alisha Pillay

SIAT students Naheel Jawaid and Aileen Wang did incredibly well at the STEM Spotlight Awards this past January. The unique event is designed to provide a platform for innovative and emerging careers with the potential to create positive change in the world. Learn more about their experience below.

Nahelel Jawaid: Taking Risks for Innovation

SIAT student Naheel Jawaid was awarded a $1000 prize for his solution to an industry problem at the STEM Spotlight Awards. Naheel spoke about artificial intelligence and its ability to create better future buying experiences, as well as ways to preserve the non-invasive nature of shopping today for the future – a consideration which gave him a competitive edge.

“It was so cool meeting the other finalists and learning more about their interesting solutions to different problems. It’s an eye-opening experience to watch people from different disciplines approach a problem in their own, innovative way. This is something that gets missed sometimes in the bubble of a design program”, Naheel says.

Naheel looks to his closest friends and art as his main sources of inspiration. “I love watching interviews of musicians like Kendrick Lamar or Kanye West. It allows me to get inside their minds and learn from their creative process. There's also a guy named Zach Lieberman who I started following recently. He makes daily art with code on Instagram - really cool stuff."

As he approaches graduation at the end of this term, Naheel has this advice to pass on to his fellow peers: “take risks and do personal projects.”

Naheel plans to move to New York this summer to continue experimenting on new projects and “attend a lot of hip hop shows."

Aileen Wang: Team Work Makes the Dream Work

SIAT student Aileen Wang made it to the final round of the STEM Spotlight Awards with her interdisciplinary SFU team which included members from mechatronics, psychology, computer science, and business. Aileen and her team tackled questions on technology, eventually coming up with the idea to design API templates that help manage and collect data on machine traffic.

A design student, Aileen had some initial nerves about entering a STEM competition:

“Though the STEM industry is a little out of my field, I found it valuable to step outside my comfort zone. Getting to work with such a diverse team was one of the best experiences because we had to uncover what each member could contribute to the final product.”

The SIAT student met her team at a STEM workshop organized by SFU's Venture Connection

The key to their success? “I cannot emphasize how important it is to know how to work in a team, divvy up work and maintain a positive team dynamic. The collaborative nature of our coursework at SFU prepared us well for this experience.”

After graduation, Aileen hopes to work in the design industry, focusing specifically on media arts.