Getting yourself out there

Kirsten Ehlers - 2A Biomedical
Posted on: November 27, 2019

Alas, this is my final editorial and issue as editor. I will be sticking around with the Iron Warrior in smaller capacities for the duration of my undergrad but it has been a pleasure to be editor. Although, it’s a lot of work and I definitely wasn’t prepared. It’s funny. This is probably the first issue that I actually feel that I know what I’m doing.

I look forward to doing more crosswords and writing more articles. I’ve missed doing the crossword. Although, I have to admit that they are way more fun to do when you don’t know the answers. Out of curiosity, do you guys find The Iron Warrior crosswords harder or easier than MathNews? What about Imprint? 

We’ve got a great issue. I finally convinced Ratan to cover the Office Ladies podcast. It’s fairly new so he was reluctant. It’s also great so I definitely recommend it for my The Office (US) fans. We’ve got code-themed horoscopes, tips about finals, and a train themed crossword. Also, it my favourite issue because it has THE TIN SOLDIER. I have been excited for this issue all term.

Also, if you guys haven’t noticed, our website it a little broken right now. If anyone wants to revamp it for us and get a little web design experience in your portfolio, email ironwarrior@engsoc.uwaterloo.ca. It’s a great side project if anyone is looking for one.

The last piece of newspaper information I have is Dear Darla. We’re always looking for questions. They can be sent by an email anonymously to ironwarrior@engsoc.uwaterloo.ca. We have a new e-mail in case you haven’t noticed (thanks Ellen).

So what do I have in store for you for my final editorial? As per usual, I have a disorganized stream of thoughts. This time it’s all about getting yourself out there and diversifying yourself.

Firstly, go to conferences, events, and presentations. A clear example of this is BioTec. Classes don’t give you everything. Conferences connect your education to your future. I always feel uber inspired when I go to conferences. Hackathons can be grouped in this category. You meet people from different schools. You put new experiences on your resume. It’s a good time. I find that even with co-op, there is a huge gap between industry and classes, conferences are one way to bridge the gap and get ahead.

The 2019 BioTec Conference was a congregation of young students and professionals all sharing the same passion: biotechnology. This was the third BioTec conference and my second BioTec that I attended. Firstly, I would like to thank the organizers for putting together this amazing event including Muiz for putting up with all my questions before hand.

Before, the events started, I had the chance to chitchat with some of my fellow delegates from a range of backgrounds. Since it was 9 am on a Saturday, I asked everyone: “why are you even here?”.

The general consensus was that it exposed delgates to what the industry had to offer. BioTec gave insight into questions like: what can I do in biotechnology? What are people doing in biotechnology? What are my options? Malak from SYDE 1A told me that she wanted to “step outside her comfort zone and learn about biotechnology”. I can think of no better way to expand your horizons than going to an event like this and immersing yourlsef in an environment of passionate individuals.

The conference opened up with a keynote speaker, Victor Hanson-Smith of Verge Genomics. He shared his experience with entrepreneurship and research in biotechnology. His work at Verge Genomics is cutting-edge and fascinating but it was his life advice that really struck me: “It’s okay to take a breath and a step back to find something with a better impact for you and the world”. He also mentioned that it’s important to not rush into things just for a pay cheque. I feel like all of us, as we panic about getting employment and co-op jobs can appreciate and learn from this sentiment.

Then, there was the pitch competition. This was a new addition this year and probably my favourite part. I was absolutely mind blown by some of the FYDPs. The winner was KnowStroke, a biometric device for detecting heat stroke in construction workers. The strong prototype and the smart business plan of selling in an untapped market is what really pushed them to not only win first prize but people’s choice as well. However, all the teams including Hi-p, AfterShock, Heart Again, IuvoDerm, and AIR did an excellent job. They all set high standards for what an FYDP should be.

The pitch competition was judged by investors including Ricky Mehra and Nikhil Thatte. I asked them why they would take the time out of their busy schedules to come judge (and give money to) a pitch competition at a university. They simply told me that innovation comes from academia (us undergrads too) and investors like to keep partnerships with universities. These partnerships can help entrepreneurs and investors even as alumni. As the work force is becoming more competitive, connectivity is more important now than ever.

After lunch, there was a research breakout session with some incredibly smart people and some workshops with equally smart people. I learned a lot and felt very inspired.

I unfortunately was unable to be in four places at once and only had the opportunity to attend the Relay Medical workshop on the Cathedral model, a thinking strategy to consider future stages of a project for business. This is an extremely helpful strategy and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to take their side project or FYDP to the entrepreneurial level.

I attended the research breakout session with Dr. Ameri from Queen’s University who spoke about the past, present, and future of wearable technologies. The fact that biosensing tattoos could be a thing is mind-boggling.

The day concluded with a clinical technology panel. I did notice that there was an emphasis on entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship does seem to be very trendy these days on campus. There was so much wisdom oozing from the stage that I can only encapsulate a portion of it in this article. Basically, keep your teams small, design for the market, consider customers and investors who may not actually use your product, and most importantly design for an actual problem. I feel this last statement from my previous failures.

To best sum it up, three delegates, Tristan, Agosh, and Angad called the conference “informative, interesting, and inspiring”.

I talked to Dean of Engineering, Pearl Sullivan about why students should go to conferences and she told me that “[the University of Waterloo] wants students to have exposure to companies and experts to show what the industry has to offer and classes don’t offer that”. Similarly, Dr. Maud Gorbet said that students need to “learn by choice”.

Secondly, get involved in clubs. Design teams are amazing opportunities to get some technical skills and apply what you’ve learned. We did a spotlight on some teams last issue and the one before. Did I mention the best club of them all? Join The Iron Warrior. This summer we are in a serious deficit of writers so please join. It’s fun, you can write a lot, a little, or just edit. Just show up to meetings on Tuesdays in DWE 1532. I promise that this is the last time I’ll be plugging The Iron Warrior.

Finally, literally get out there. Like leave campus. Go uptown. Go to the mall. Go to the park (which has adorable alpacas by the way). This is less of an enhancing your education thing and more of an enhancing your mental health thing. There’s nothing like a brisk walk to take your mind off your horrible calculus midterm.

So a final thank you to all the writers and editors at The Iron Warrior. All their names are listed on the side of this page. Thank you to Samridhi and Gabrielle, former EICs who stuck around to help me struggle through this, EngSoc for people so supportive and passionate about The Iron Warrior, and Akanksha for fixing WordPress every Sunday morning when I break it.

Bye everyone. Good luck on finals!

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