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Engineering alumnus Shawn Qu (MSE PhD 9T5), founder, chairman and CEO of Canadian Solar, recently committed $400,000 to support solar cell research at U of T Engineering (Photo: Shawn Qu).

U of T Engineering alumnus Shawn Qu (MSE PhD 9T5) believes in a bright future for home-grown solar technology—and he’s helping create it.

Dr. Qu is founder, chairman and CEO of Canadian Solar, North America’s leading photovoltaic module manufacturer and one of the world’s largest solar power companies. Canadian Solar recently committed $400,000 to support solar cell research at U of T Engineering, where Dr. Qu earned his PhD in 1995.

Professor Francis Dawson (ECE) is the principal investigator supervising the project. His team will conduct two-dimensional simulations to optimize solar cell performance with the goal of realizing higher-efficiency and lower-cost photovoltaics.

“This funding gives our students a chance to sink their teeth into some challenging real-world problems,” said Professor Dawson. “It’s a great platform for us to train the next generation of bright young engineers, in concert with industry.”

This support comes through the TalentEdge program, a research funding collaboration between the University of Toronto and Ontario Centres of Excellence. TalentEdge provides fellowships for post-doctoral researchers to undertake projects of pressing interest to industry in the province. Canadian Solar previously contributed to the program in 2012.

“As Canada’s leading university, the University of Toronto plays an important role in scientific research and development,” said Dr. Qu in a release. “Not only are we pleased that we had the opportunity to give back to my alma matter, we are also certain that this donation will help advance solar research.”

“We in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering are conducting research with real relevance to industry,” said Professor Ted Sargent, vice-dean, research for U of T Engineering. “Dr. Qu is an international leader in photovoltaics, and his generous support demonstrates both the strength of our alumni community, and our continuing ties to engineering enterprise.”

Founded in 2001, Canadian Solar is a leading manufacturer of solar photovoltaic modules and provider of solar energy solutions. The company has successfully deployed over eight giga-Watts of high-quality modules in more than 70 countries in the past decade.

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