Graduand Raaj Chatterjee receives SFU's most prestigious undergraduate award—the Gordon M. Shrum Gold Medal.

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Community-engaged engineer awarded 2020 Gordon M. Shrum Gold Medal

June 08, 2020
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By Cindy Li

Raaj Chatterjee always had his mind set on making a difference through technology.

His passion for sustainability and the environment started in high school, where he devoted 700 hours to community clubs and spearheaded several green initiatives. After receiving an $80,000 Schulich Leader scholarship to attend university, he chose Simon Fraser University’s School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering for the chance to create next-generation technologies that address social and environmental challenges.

This year, Chatterjee receives Simon Fraser University’s most prestigious undergraduate medal, the Gordon M. Shrum Gold Medal. It is bestowed on the graduating student whose high scholastic standing and extracurricular activities demonstrate outstanding qualities of character and unselfish devotion to the university. Chatterjee will be among those honoured Thursday, June 11 during SFU’s Virtual Convocation Celebration.

As co-president of the student climate advocacy organization SFU350, Chatterjee helped lead a movement to shift SFU’s investments in fossil fuels to more sustainable and socially responsible investments. In response, the university committed to reducing the carbon footprint of its investments by 45 percent by 2025.

“Being involved taught me how to advocate for the causes I’m passionate about and how to bring together and motivate others too,” he says. “It helped me to find and build community on campus.”

In 2016, he was selected as a finalist for Canada’s Top 25 Environmentalists under 25 list. In 2018, SFU recognized Chatterjee’s environmental advocacy with its President’s Award for Leadership in Sustainability.

Chatterjee also made significant contributions to groups such as the Interfaith Homeless Food and Clothing Ministry, and Team Phantom. He is dedicated to building community wellbeing while generating solutions to complex global issues.

For his next step to effect change, Chatterjee is joining SFU’s eBrain Lab as a graduate student. Supported by three generous scholarships, he will work with mechatronics professor Faranak Farzan to research technology-based solutions to mental health challenges, such as depression and addiction. Working in the lab, he'll be using non-invasive, magnetic brain-stimulation technology.

“I am surprised, honoured and very happy about the Shrum award,” says Chatterjee.

“I felt like I was standing on the shoulders of giants when I first entered university. I was supported by students in their more senior years, staff, faculty and student mentors when I was a first-year student,” he adds. “Because of them, I was able to give that back to my community and carry it forward.”

Be sure to tune-in to SFU's Virtual Convovation Celebration on June 11 at 5:30 p.m.  

2020 Spring Undergraduate Convocation Medalists

Governor General’s Silver Medal

Awarded to the two undergraduate students who achieve the highest scholastic standing upon graduation from a bachelor’s degree program.

Adam Bignell, BSc (Hon)
Faculty of Applied Science

Nikola Surjanovic, BSc
Faculty of Science

Lieutenant-Governor’s Silver Medal

Awarded to an undergraduate student who has maintained the highest academic standing in a certificate or post-baccalaureate diploma program and who, by participating in extracurricular activities, has shown outstanding qualities of character and unselfish devotion to the community.

Xilonen Hanson Pastran, BA
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Dean’s Undergraduate Convocation Medals

Recognizing the graduating student from each faculty whose cumulative grade point average places them in the top five per cent of their class.

Simran Sandhu, BGS
Faculty of Education

Salina Kung, BSc (First Class with Distinction)
Faculty of Science

Elizabeth Pieters, BASc (Hon)
Faculty of Applied Science

Emily Thornton, BA (Hon)
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Jonathan Mendel, BA (Hon)
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Sumara Stroshein, BSc (Hon)
Faculty of Health Science

Gary Sidhu, BBA 
Beedie School of Business

Ruby Barnard, BA 
Faculty of Environment

Benjamin McGuinness, BA 
Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology