Innovators aim for a cleaner environment
By Braden McMillan
Hassan Murad is making waves in the clean technology sector. Recently named one of Forbes Magazine’s top five to watch in artificial intelligence (AI), the Simon Fraser University Surrey alumnus is also demonstrating the value of post-secondary opportunities in the sustainable technology field.
Murad is the co-creator of Oscar – an AI-powered visual sorting system that automatically identifies recycling from trash and instructs users on how to sustainably dispose of their waste.
Oscar was developed by Murad and his partner Vivek Vyas after the two innovators attended SFU’s Mechatronic Systems Engineering program in Surrey. The program was hugely inspirational as they gained experience working on projects that were helping change the world. Additional mentorship and support from SFU’s VentureLabs helped their newly-minted company, Intuitive AI, to thrive.
SFU’s new Sustainable Energy Engineering (SEE) program offered this fall at the Surrey campus will help others like Murad develop their passion and become clean tech innovators.
“We need innovators and engineers who are always thinking about the after-effects and what comes next when creating sustainable solutions and addressing challenges like climate change,” he says. “The new Sustainable Energy Engineering program at SFU is exactly what is needed for the next generation of students to integrate sustainable practices and concepts right from the very start of their careers.”
The first of its kind in Western Canada, SFU’s SEE program launches in Surrey in the fall of 2019 with that goal in mind. Housed in SFU’s new building in downtown Surrey, the program will equip students with skills to become global leaders in clean technology—the first phase of SFU’s expansion in Surrey, which will see the addition of 440 new undergraduate and graduate spaces, along with additional space for the mechatronics program.
From engineering and computing science to interactive arts and technology and business, SFU graduates are applying their skills and landing jobs with some of the world’s top companies – Google, Apple and General Motors, to name a few. Murad spent two co-op terms at automaker Tesla’s headquarters in Palo Alto, California. Students like Murad are tackling global challenges and aiming to take sustainable innovations to the next level.
“Focusing on sustainability is invaluable to both employees and employers. Employees are really motivated when trying to solve massive problems, especially when the solutions are meaningful and have the potential to make a real impact in the world,” says Murad, a 2017 recipient of a Surrey Board of Trade’s annual Top 25 under 25 award. He went on to win an outstanding venture award from Toronto-based accelerator NextAI.
“Having the next generation of engineers and innovators with sustainability baked into their genes and thinking about sustainable concepts will help them go on to do something massive.”
Today, the creative minds behind Intuitive AI continue to develop and refine their product with the hope that one day soon it will play a significant role in helping transition toward a zero waste world. The Vancouver-based company has already received more than 60 offers from businesses to buy or pilot Oscar, including from Fortune 500 brands. With this high demand, don’t be surprised if start to see Oscar at a recycling bin near you.