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National achievement

Engineering student recognized among Canada’s elite

Student Life

By Jackey Locke

A Memorial University student received an honourable mention at the 2022 Co-operative Education and Work-integrated Learning Canada Student of the Year Awards.

Heidi Simpson, who is a fourth-year mechanical engineering student, says she is honoured to receive the recognition.

“I am very grateful,” said Ms. Simpson, who is from Glovertown, N.L. “I am so thankful for the support of the Engineering Co-operative Education Office and my previous supervisor in nominating me for this award.”

A nomination places a student at the very top of their institution since schools typically nominate only one student.

Geoff Smith, acting director, Engineering Co-operative Education Office, is congratulation Ms. Simpson on her achievement.

“Heidi is an outstanding representative of the engineering program and only the third student that we have nominated from the engineering program over the past 11 years,” he said.

Netherlands-based work term

Last summer, Ms. Simpson completed her work term at SEMiLLA Sanitation/Nijhuis Industries in the Netherlands, a company that focuses on circular water treatment solutions for disaster relief, humanitarian aid and lessening the environmental impact of residential housing.

“Work terms . . . help us to make educated decisions about our future when we graduate.” — Heidi Simpson

One of the main projects she worked on was the Waste to Clean Air Project, which aims to use a circular system design to improve the quality of life of residents of the Imvepi refugee settlement in Uganda.

“I was responsible for creating an impact report detailing the total potential impact of the project on the lives of the refugees in the settlement,” she said. “The Waste to Clean Air project aims to give refugees access to affordable renewable energy, safer sanitary systems, nutritious food, job training and stable employment, while contributing to local regreening efforts.”

Ms. Simpson says the work that she was part of in the Netherlands was “very meaningful” to her and that she is grateful for each opportunity that her work term placements have provided her.

“Co-operative education has helped me gain hands-on, practical experience in a number of different positions and helped me learn where my interests lie,” she said. “It’s also given me the opportunity to work internationally and experience a new part of the world. Work terms give students a real idea of how their classroom knowledge can be applied in a practical, professional setting, which helps us to make educated decisions about our future when we graduate.”

Student standing in front of a glass window holding a certificate.
Heidi Simpson holds her Dean’s List award.
Photo: Submitted

Ms. Simpson received several scholarships and recognitions during her undergraduate degree.

She received the Paul Sacuta Scholarship; the Charlie Sheppard Memorial — Hatch Scholarship; the Memorial University of Newfoundland Alumni Entrance Scholarship; the Professional Engineers and Geologists of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Cossitt Award; and the Engineering Class of 2006 Legacy Award. She was also named to the Dean’s List for multiple years and received the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award.

Ms. Simpson held several executive positions with the Engineers Without Borders MUN Chapter over the course of her undergraduate studies and is currently one of the co-presidents of the chapter.

Advice for incoming engineering students

“University is a big adjustment from high school, and the course load can seem intimidating. Seeking out extra help doesn’t mean you’ve failed, or that you aren’t cut out for it, it just means that you care and you want to succeed,” she said.

“There are lots of resources available to first-year engineering students, and I took advantage of all of them when I started the program. The Engineering One Student Success Centre, supplemental instruction sessions, office hours and even friends are all great resources if you are struggling with a course or concept. Studying with peers and working together to figure out the hardest material makes everything less intimidating. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it!”

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