Skip to Main Content
Roger Francis, executive director, engineering career and experiential learning, at the Engineering Career Centre speaks at the PEY Co-op Recognition and Awards Reception. (photo by Dewey Chang)

On April 11, the U of T Engineering Career Centre hosted its sixth annual awards reception recognizing excellence in the Professional Experience Year Co-op Program (PEY Co-op) during the 20222023 work term. The event highlighted the outstanding contributions of employers, mentors, students and staff who have supported the program’s enduring success. 

The PEY Co-op program has prepared U of T Engineering students to contribute meaningfully to top global organizations for more than 40 years. Conceived in the 1970s by Professors Derek McCammond, David Scott and Ron Venter from the Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering, the program has since influenced more than 20,000 students across various engineering disciplines.  

Today, PEY Co-op is one of U of T Engineering’s most popular co-curricular offerings, with more than 94% of the first-year class joining over the past four years.  

Facilitated by U of T’s Engineering Career Centre, the PEY Co-op work term offers undergraduate engineering students the opportunity to gain full-time, paid work experience over 12 to 16 months. The program is a degree-long work-integrated learning journey that begins in first year by preparing students for the recruitment process and work term, which begins after students’ third year of study. 

This year’s awards reception not only celebrated individual successes but also highlighted the lasting impact of the PEY Co-op program on the U of T Engineering community 

“We have many people to credit for the success of the PEY Co-op program. To the organizations that employ our students, thank you for having the foresight to see how engaging with our students benefits your companies and is crucial in developing the next generation of engineering leaders,” says Chris Yip, Dean of U of T Engineering. 

“And congratulations to the exceptional U of T Engineering students who have pursued PEY Co-op. Each of you have made the most of your experience by collaborating with diverse teams and being intentional in acquiring a global perspective. These are the qualities that will enable you to address some of the most complex challenges we face as a society.” 

The ceremony also recognized 11 peer coaches and 12 alumni ambassadors for their crucial contributions to mentoring current students and enhancing the PEY Co-op program. 

See more photos from the event in the awards reception photo gallery. 

Student of the Year 

The PEY Co-op Student of the Year Award recognizes a student who demonstrated excellence in the workplace as an outstanding member of the employer’s team. Employers nominate students for this award.

Group photo of five people in front of step and repeat and projection screen.
Left to right: Dean Chris Yip, Barry Bytensky (Year 4 EngSci), Karma Sadhwani (Year 4 ChemE), Executive Director, Engineering Career and Experiential Learning Roger Francis, and Vice-Dean, Undergraduate Thomas Coyle. Bytensky and Sadhwani received PEY Co-op Student of the Year awards. (photo by Dewey Chang)

Barry Bytensky (Year 4 EngSci) 

During his PEY Co-op at The Hospital for Sick Children’s PCIGITI Lab, Bytensky developed a novel simulation platform to explore prospective high-intensity focused ultrasound treatments of retinoblastoma. His promising findings led to several presentations at SickKids research conferences.

Karma Sadhwani (Year 4 ChemE) 

Sadhwani completed her PEY Co-op work term at Scotiabank, where she served as a trade floor technology consultant with the Global Banking & Markets Technology team. In this role, she was involved in managing various high-risk trading applications utilized within the department and actively pursued automation opportunities across different teams on the trade floor. This summer she will return to Scotiabank as a sales & trading rotational analyst. 

Employer of the Year 

The PEY Co-op Employer of the Year Award recognizes an exceptional partner organization that hired a PEY Co-op student. Because of the employer, the student or students came away from their PEY Co-op experience with enhanced knowledge, honed interests and a head start on developing as a professional. 

Award recipients and university representatives stand in front of step and repeat.
Recipients of the PEY Co-op Employer of the Year Award from MDA Space pose for a photo with U of T Engineering leadership. Back row, left to right: David Mann, Chris Yip, Roger Francis and Thomas Coyle. Front row, left to right: Afrin Prio, Linda Preece, Vanessa Lewis and Kasia Puszkiel. (photo by Dewey Chang)

MDA Space

MDA Space received the PEY Co-op Employer of the Year Award for its outstanding dedication to providing enriching professional development opportunities and creating a supportive environment for co-op students during the 20222023 work term. They have been a valued PEY Co-op employer since 2013, and have hired and mentored 37 U of T Engineering students to date. 

Mentor of the Year  

The PEY Co-op Mentor of the Year Award recognizes an exemplary individual and their commitment to excellence in mentoring. Recipients of this award have played an exceptional role in sharing their wisdom and experiences, nurturing the personal and professional growth of their mentees. Students nominate their managers or supervisors for this award.  

Five people stand together in front of a step and repeat.
Left to right: Chris Yip, Adriano Lombardi (IndE 0T0, MIE MEng 1T2), Alice Gao (ECE 1T0, ECE MASc 1T2), Roger Francis and Thomas Coyle. Lombardi and Gao were recognized with PEY Co-op Mentor of the Year awards. (photo by Dewey Chang)

Alice Gao (ECE 1T0, ECE MASc 1T2)

Gao serves as lead engineer at Deep Genomics, a U of T Engineering spinoff founded by Professor Brendan Frey (ECE). During her time at Deep Genomics, Gao has engaged in diverse areas, from building software for machine learning (ML) research to developing models for genome biology and drug discovery. Her passion lies in creating tooling to support reproducible ML research and accelerate the development of genome biology ML models, particularly in an era where training such models demands substantial data and computational resources. 

Adriano Lombardi (IndE 0T0, MIE MEng 1T2)

Lombardi has been a passionate mentor within the PEY Co-op program since 2000. He is an accomplished professional with 23 years of extensive process improvement experience and 16 years of cross-functional leadership across diverse sectors, including financial services, retail and manufacturing. In his most recent role as director of business process re-engineering at Walmart Canada, Adriano collaborated closely with business teams to drive medium to large-scale operational and digitization projects. 

Media Contact

Fahad Pinto
Communications & Media Relations Strategist