Emre Erhan, scholarship winner

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.

Alongside his computing science courses, the first-year student has already taken electives in physics, philosophy and history. “I chose the history of classical Islamic civilization because I’m Muslim and I wanted to understand the roots from an academic perspective,” he says.

Music is also a passion for Emre – he describes it as a creative outlet that helps him wind down – and after playing clarinet throughout high school, he brought his love for the big band to SFU’s jazz club. The club performs around the Burnaby campus and at SFU Athletics games and fundraisers. “The people in the jazz club were older and more experienced than me, but I have learned so much from them,” he says.

Emre first dabbled in programming in Grade 9, when his teacher introduced him to the beginner-friendly GameMaker tool. In his opinion, computing science is both a science and a craft. “I love how logical and clear everything is in computing science,” he says. “At the same time, you have the control to create something just the way you want to make it.”

Emre says undergraduate students at SFU should feel confident about approaching professors regarding research opportunities. At a reception hosted for scholarship winners, Emre met a professor who hires grad students and encouraged him to pursue research.

Inspired by this encounter, he contacted a professor whose work interested him, and asked if she needed assistance in the lab. The answer was “yes.” He recently started working with researchers and grad students from the Transforming Pain Research Group in Surrey, analysing how technology can help people manage chronic pain more effectively.

“I’m very happy I chose SFU,” says Emre. “I really enjoy the environment of the School of Computing Science and the people I’ve met – professors, advisors and students. I’ve been happy with every course I’ve taken and even the challenging courses have benefited me. I’m very satisfied right now.”

Emre highlights the importance of being outgoing and going outside your comfort zones to have a rewarding experience at SFU. “Meeting people, making connections, it has practical application to help you with career and it also helps make you a well-rounded person,” he says.