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February 11, 2009

Two Engineering students recently experienced Engineering in a global forum this month surrounded by world leaders such as Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations.

William Li, fourth year EngSci student, and Elika Mahdavi, fourth year IndE student, were selected by the Faculty to attend and work at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Switzerland, thanks to the generous support of alumnus and donor William F. Turner and his wife Nancy.

WEF is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging leaders in partnerships to shape global, regional and industry agendas. Created in 1971 and based in Geneva, WEF is under the supervision of the Swiss Federal Government and hosts an annual meeting that bring together the world’s business and government leaders. At this year’s annual meeting held from Jan 28 to Feb 1, world leaders were charged with developing effective solutions to the current economic crisis.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our emerging global leaders to apply their technical classroom knowledge in an international context in which world leaders converge to seek innovative solutions to the current global economic slowdown,” saidCristina Amon, Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering. 

Up to two Engineering students are selected each year to participate in and work at WEF with expenses paid by the University and a travel fund established by the William and Nancy Turner Foundation. Students apply and are interviewed by members of the Faculty. The selected students then apply to WEF to attend the annual meeting.

In addition to a 3.82 sessional GPA, Elika Mahdavi is the Vice-President (Internal) of the U of T Consulting Association, where she serves as Director of the group’s annual Business Case Competition. She worked at CVRD INCO as a Technical Analyst in the summer of 2007 and worked as a consultant for the Volunteer Consulting Group at U of T from 2006-2007, providing pro-bono strategy to non-profit organizations in Canada. She attended the 2008 Canadian Federation of Engineering Students Congress, where she participated in panels regarding the engineering profession. 

William Li received national press coverage in 2007 for developing and implementing an adaptive interface to train fine motor control for children with Cerebral Palsy, working with IBBME Professor Tom Chau. He received the “Best Technical Paper” and “Best Design Project” awards for this work at the International Conference for Upcoming Engineers.

Proficient in the programming languages of C, C++, HTML, and Visual Basic, William has a cumulative GPA of 3.87. From 2007 to 2008, he worked in Switzerland on his Professional Experience Year (PEY) Internship program with Alstom Power, where he applied systematic innovation tools to generate new ideas for next-generation gas turbines. He led meetings with experts to gather and synthesize ideas and create new technology concepts. William has served in numerous U of T student organizations including Engineers Without Borders. He was also a delegate in 2007 to the China Synergy Program for Outstanding Youth.

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