George Cheng (Photo: Surrey Board of Trade)
Shayan Ebrahimi and Alex Tzilios with City of Surrey mayor Linda Hepner (Photo: Surrey Board of Trade)

Surrey Board of Trade recognizes SFU students and alumni for innovation

October 15, 2015

Story by SFU News

The Surrey Board of Trade has presented Surrey Innovation Awards to an SFU student and a company formed by SFU students and an alumnus.

George Cheng, an SFU mechatronics graduate student, won in the young innovator category, while Vantek Innovations Ltd., led by SFU engineering science alumnus Shayan Ebrahimi, was recognized for its innovation excellence.

Cheng is the chief operating officer of Empower Operations, a company that produces design automation software that helps product designers and manufacturers accelerate engineering design. This past February, the company won the 2015 Coast Capital Savings Venture Prize.

“I am honoured to be recognized as an innovator in Surrey,” says Cheng. “I would like to thank the Surrey Board of Trade for the award, and SFU’s Faculty of Applied Sciences and the Venture Connection program for their support.

“This award means a lot to me personally as it captures the essence of my work over the past several years, which has led to the technological innovations that drive the continued success of Empower Operations today.”

Vantek Innovations develops sound-detection applications for cars and mobile platforms. Its application aims to raise user awareness by detecting and alerting users about hazardous sounds.

The application can shut off a car’s stereo system and play an audio message instructing the driver to pull over even before the driver is aware of an approaching emergency response vehicle.

"This award is just the start of our goal to make roads a safer place for everyone,” says Ebrahimi, who is the company’s CEO.

“We would like to thank SFU’s School of Engineering Science and the Beedie School of Business for equipping us with the knowledge and skills that enable us to make our concept a reality.”

SFU students Hanieh Khalilian, Mohammadreza Mohammadnia, Mohas Sarpoushan and Gurinder Singh, and Capilano University alumnus Alex Tzilios round out the Vantek Innovations team.

The winners were announced on Sept. 30 at the Surrey Board of Trade’s Leadership Surrey dialogue lunch on the city’s transportation future.