University is one of the most enthralling experiences in a person’s life, and the people you meet during its course, end up transforming your life. The University of Toronto community encompasses numerous students, belonging to a diverse range of nationalities, genders, religions, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, all connected by the common goal of evolving into stronger and well-rounded individuals who are willing to make contributions to global betterment and give back to the society. The University of Toronto Engineering Society, better known as “Skule™”, comprises over 5000 students. It is next to impossible to become well acquainted with every single Skule™ member. Yet, here we are trying to make a small effort on our part to help you get to know some of your fellow Skulemates.
Let’s begin with one of UofT’s brightest freshmen, Kyla Tan! Some of you know her as the newest addition to our group of Ultimate F!rosh’s. For those of you who don’t know, she’s a great hopper. In case you need proof, you can ask her to display her skills yourself, she definitely won’t deny. When she’s not jumping up and down, you can find her indulging in one of her manifold hobbies, all of which seem to be poles apart. When in high school, Kyla played for Rugby Ontario, and now you can find her playing the Ukulele, strumming songs she composed herself.
Three out of four of her grandparents were engineers, which she believed was already a big enough number of engineers for one household. So up until the twelfth grade, she was all set to become a doctor, until she realized that it was a bit too much of schooling and it would not be able to provide her with the same versatility that engineering would. More than that, she was greatly averse to being caught up in a rat race and discovering years later that she was unhappy by her choice of profession. She knew a student who graduated out of UofT EngSci and ended up making yogurt and even worked at a diaper company at one point. With engineering, you can take your degree to any corner of the world or the most eccentric of careers, and still be able to have a great deal of fun, and this caused her to delve into the comprehensive world of engineering.
Your next Skulemate’s name might be the longest one you’ve heard to date. Ajeya Madhava Rao Vijayakumar is a complete people-person who, for better or for worse, has nothing short of the perfect joke to crack at any given circumstance. He is extremely passionate about running, but he also has never run a single marathon in the entirety of his life. He recently started working on web development, and Skule™’s sponsorship website has been designed by him. He is currently on a strict diet and spends a lot of his time either working out or in the kitchen, trying to create delectable protein-rich dishes inspired by one of his favourite animes, “Food Wars”.
As a young boy, he had always been fascinated with cars, especially their sleek exteriors and their capacity to blow past him with colossal speed while he was walking down the sidewalk. As he grew older, his obsession with car exteriors disappeared as he realized that almost every day, cars come with a new facelift. Instead, the inner workings of cars caught his attention. Right from pressing the gas barrel to the exhaust, the entire functioning of a car is what he is in awe of. Moreover, upcoming technology has completely revolutionized the mechanics of automobiles, which keeps him engaged. He also firmly believes that the feeling of satisfaction achieved after solving even the tiniest of life problems is truly unmatched. And hence he decided to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering which he believes is one of the most beautiful ways to fulfil his urge for learning more about the inner mechanisms of cars alongside tackling real-world problems.
Only 10% of the world’s population is left-handed, and one such southpaw is our very own Michela Trozzo. Many of you may recognize her as the Director of Hi-Skule, but very few of you know that to reach that position, she worked as a mentor, outreach director, and vice director, all throughout her initial years at UofT. She also served as VP Student Life of the Engineering Society. Over the summer, she ran synchronous sessions for the UofT Engineering Academy, which had initiated a new program for incoming first year engineering students to bridge the gap in academics created true to the abrupt shift of in-person to online classes during the last crucial months of high school.
In May 2020, she completed her PEY working for the Toronto Transit Committee (TTC). Before getting the job there, she was offered another one at Bruce Power as well. When not involved in numerous Skule™ activities or in academia, you can find Michella tap dancing to her favourite tunes.
By the time she was in high school, she had her entire career plan figured out mainly based on her aspiration to become a high-school teacher. According to her plan, she took math and science in high school, either one of which she planned to major in. After Grade 11 however, her father, who had always been allured by the field of engineering, encouraged her to pursue it as a career path. Near the end of eleventh grade, the WISE (Women in Science Engineering) chapter from UofT came to do a presentation on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) at her high school, and they left her motivated to take up engineering. The interesting part is that she still plans to become a teacher, and has already applied for a Bachelor of Education degree after graduating from the University of Toronto.
Our next Skulemate, Ardian Lagman, saw a Cirque Du Soleil show many years ago and felt instantly intrigued by a section with a guy doing a pole dancing performance. He was impressed with the level of fitness the guy must have achieved in order to be practicing this art form with such ease. Coincidently, he had a conversation revolving around pole dance with a few of his friends at university. They motivated him to take a shot at pole dancing and there has been no looking back since then. His journey to learning pole dancing gave him days where he would walk out with bruises, but ultimately all the hard work and pain paid off by giving him immense strength and the feeling of contentment. The same person who started out being nervous as he was the only male in a class full of females, has now transformed into a self-assured and phenomenal pole dancer, who would do nothing less than stealing the show if you were to ever watch him perform.
When Ardian was in high school, he was working as a valet in a car dealership. His job description included preparing the cars for the technicians of the service centre. Over the course of working there, he got to park a few electric cars and was so mesmerized by them that he decided that he wanted to become an engineer and build electric cars. Fast forward to today, after doing his PEY at ArcelorMittal Dofasco, where he had the chance to do water modelling, prepare samples for technological investigations, and help set up experiments. He also happened to be exposed to data science. After doing a few projects on his own and taking two courses in that avenue, he realized that his real passion lies in the world of aata science and artificial intelligence. Moving forward, he will be doing an M.Eng in MIE to pivot his career towards his newfound love for the same.
Our last and final Skulemate, Ria Malhotra, is someone who enjoys playing tiny pranks on people around her. She once made a friend believe that she was related to the Queen! Under normal circumstances, you would find her hanging out in the Pit. She believes that at its peak hours, it serves as a reminder of the Skule™ spirit, but even in the evenings, during its quiet hours, the Pit has the power to give any engineer the warm feeling of a blanket. If you ever need to reinstate your interest in the field of engineering she would be your go-to person. She strongly believes in the power of engineering and using technology to change the world for the better. She absolutely loves being involved with Skule™ design teams for the simple reason that it makes her believe time and time again that the power of several great minds working together is unmatchable.
When asked about why she wanted to become an engineer, she simply said that engineers rule the world and becoming an engineer is the first step to global domination. When she initially heard that UofT is a tough university to get into and has a competitive environment making it difficult for students to stand out, she immediately decided that she wanted to surround herself with people who are smarter, more talented and more hardworking so that she could learn from them and their experiences in order to grow and expand her potential.
Not just in the field of engineering, but everywhere else in life too, you get to meet new people and hear their life stories. The people you meet help you in the process of discovering yourself. You learn about new things that you are passionate about, things that you fear and you build memories whose stories you will retell for years to come. I hope reading this helped you get to know your peers a little better, and maybe someone else’s story helped inspire your own.