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Engineering Holiday Gift Guide

Spread seasonal cheer — and Skule™ pride! — with this selection of 14 gift ideas, all of which have roots at U of T Engineering

From a brain-sensing headband to a contemporary culinary cult classic, we’ve collected our top picks — all with ties to U of T Engineering — for a holiday season unlike any other.

Sphero Mini Blue

Used throughout U of T Engineering Outreach’s Jr. DEEP Coding program, the Sphero Mini Blue is an app-controlled robot equipped with a gyroscope, accelerometer, and LED lights that makes coding fun.

Sync your Sphero Mini with the facial recognition technology on your smartphone to race with friends using your facial expressions, or use JavaScript to program your Sphero to complete obstacle courses.

With almost an hour of play time packed into each battery charge, the Sphero Mini is an easy and interactive way to brush up on your coding skills, or inspire the next generation of programmers.

Instant Pot

As many of us spend more time at home this holiday season, there’s never been a better time to get in on the Instant Pot action.

Co-created by U of T Engineering alumnus Dongjun Wang (ElecE 9T5), the Instant Pot combines a slow cooker,  pressure cooker and steamer into one handy culinary device. There’s a reason it’s been featured on our list three years in a row!

Prepare multiple dishes at once using handy stacking tray add-ons, or take your holiday meals to the next level with air-fryer and dessert attachments. The Instant Pot’s single chamber design makes preparing dishes easy, and cleanup a breeze.

Nanoleaf Shapes

Spruce up your work or living space with Nanoleaf Shapes — the newest in Nanoleaf’s line of interactive, energy efficient light panels.

Founded by U of T Engineering alumni Gimmy Chu (ElecE 0T6), Tom Rodinger (IBBME PhD 0T7) and Christian Yan (ElecE 0T6), Nanoleaf continues to revolutionize home lighting.

Try switching your panels to Match Mode and watch as Nanoleaf shapes interact with your home entertainment system for a unique audio-visual experience. Or, watch your Nanoleaf shapes dance to the beat of your music or sounds with Music Visualizer.

From the symmetrical to the abstract, Nanoleaf shapes are the perfect way to add a personal (and interactive) touch to any space.

Blue Block Glasses

With many of us working from home, were feeling the consequences of our tech-reliance in the quality of our sleep. Created by U of T Engineering MIE alumnus Amol Rao (MIE MASc 1T8), Somnitude Blue Block Glasses are an easy way to combat the restlessness caused by nighttime blue-light exposure – and they’re backed by solid science.

Studies show that blue light negatively affects the body’s natural circadian rhythm, suppresses melatonin production and delays the onset and quality of sleep.

Scroll in style with Somnitude’s new wayfarer style, or pick up a pair for the kids in your life with youth sizes. Impact and scratch resistant, Blue Block Sunglasses are the perfect way to cut down on blue-light exposure and maximize rest this holiday season.

New shoes (With the help of Xesto Fit) 

Looking to gift a new pair of shoes – but unsure of sizingXesto, the foot-scanning app developed with technology spun out of ECE Professor Deepa Kundur’s lab, has you covered. 

Made possible by the sensors found on most smartphones, Xesto uses computer vision techniques to facilitate foot sizing. Simply scan a smartphone around your foot and allow Xesto to generate an accurate digital foot model that provides the perfect size recommendation. 

With built-in scan sharing featuresXesto makes it easy to share your size and shop online with confidence. 

Muse S - Brain Sensing Headband

We could all use a little mindfulness this holiday season.

Co-created by Amanda Fleury (BME, PhD 1T8), the Muse-S Brain Sensing Headband is a multi-sensor meditation device that provides real-time feedback on users’ brain activity, heart rate, breathing and more to help build consistent meditation practices.

The Muse S can be used day and night, and even offers responsive meditation journeys that help carry users to sleep. Catch up on your zzz’s this the holiday season, or give the gift of zen to someone who could use a break!

Three Ships Beauty

Recently featured on CBC’s Dragon’s Den, Three Ships Beauty is an all-natural, cost-friendly line of skincare products co-founded by U of T Engineering alumna Laura Burget (ChemE, 1T6).

Pamper yourself this holiday season with vegan and cruelty-free peptides, serums, creams, and masks – all available for under $40.

Goodbye, Again

Give the gift of laughs with the latest release from  U of T Engineering alumnus Jonny Sun (EngSci 1T1 + PEY), celebrated author of Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too.

Sun’s newest work is Goodbye, Again: Essays, Reflections, and Illustrations. It includes personal stories and poems accompanied with illustrations by Sun himself. Goodbye, Again is about “saying goodbye to places you once belonged, the myths of finding solace in work, and the joy in small things”. With topics ranging from mental health, happiness, and what it means to be along, Goodbye, Again combines the heartfelt with the hilarious.

Available now for pre-order, Goodbye, Again is perfect gift for the bookworm in your life.



Courtesy of HarperCollins Canada

Meet Elsie MacGill

Nicknamed the “Queen of The Hurricanes”, celebrated aeronautical engineer and U of T Engineering alumna Elsie MacGill (ElecE 2T7) made history as the first woman in Canada to receive a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and the world’s first female aeronautical engineer.

Recently profiled in a new Canada Heritage Minute, MacGill was instrumental in the development of the Hawker Hurricane warplane used extensively by Allied forces in WWII.

Meet Elsie MacGill, written by Elizabeth MacLeod and illustrated by Mike Deas, retells her remarkable life story for readers between the ages of six and 10. Available in English and French, the book makes the perfect gift for future trailblazers of all descriptions.



Courtesy of Scholastic Canada

Pacha The Mama Llama

Written and illustrated by U of T Engineering alumnus and current Program Chair of the Skule™ Alumni Mentorship Program Luigi La Corte (CivE 1T4 + PEY), Pacha The Mama Llama follows the story of a llama named Pacha as she migrates with her two children from a barren hill in Peru to Machu Picchu for a better life.

Inspired by the author’s family history, Pacha The Mama Llama makes the perfect gift for loved ones of all ages this holiday season.




Courtesy of Pachamama Publishing


Maximize your work-from-home potential and give the gift of productivity with Knowtworthy.

A startup that placed among the winners of the U of T Hatchery’s Demo Day competition in 2018, Knowtworthy offers an all-in-one meeting solution that ensures everyone is on the same page — even if they’re not in the same place.

Increase your meeting potential with features like automated minute taking, organized action items and agenda sharing. Secure and seamless, Knowtworthy lets users meet from anywhere and keeps teams on track — perfect for a day of back-to-back online meetings.

Wattpad Premium

Co-founded by U of T Engineering alumnus Allen Lau (ElecE 9T1, ECE MASc 9T2), Wattpad allows authors of all abilities to publish their work in an online community of readers and writers.

Treat yourself or a loved one to Wattpad Premium this holiday season and enjoy ad-free reading, unlimited offline stories and exclusive theme colours.

Whether you’re curling up with a new story this holiday season or writing your own, Wattpad Premium makes it easy to let your inner wordsmith shine.

Dot Health

Put your health first this holiday season with Dot Health – the real-time personal health data platform founded by Huda Idrees (IndE 1T3).

Dot Health makes it easy to stay on top of your health, with personalized data management that keep ups with. Keep track of appointments, manage personal health records, and track vaccinations all in one place.

Handy data visualizations and terminology help simplify even the most complicated of lab reports, and with instant access to a resident physician, Dot Health helps you find what you need, when you need it.

October Faction on Netflix

We might be late to the party with this one, but we can all agree that there’s never been a better time to get into the Netflix game. Binge all of your television and movie favourites in one place with categorized programming and helpful suggestions.

Better yet, why not start a new series this holiday season like the highly anticipated October Faction, co-starring U of T Engineering alumnus Robert Bazzocchi (EngSci 1T9).

Bazzocchi is veteran performer of U of T Engineering’s Skule’s Got Talent and past member of U of T’s Varsity Blues competitive dance team — why not spend some of your down time over the break watching him flex his skills on the small screen.