June 2, 2020
Liz Do & Tyler Irving
With the University’s virtual Convocation ceremony on June 2, 2020 students from The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE) mark the end of one journey and the beginning of another. Graduating in the midst of a global pandemic, the Class of 2020 will long be celebrated for its tenacity, resilience and spirit.
Having enriched the U of T Engineering community as undergraduate and graduate students, they will join our vibrant, global network of Skule™ alumni, where they will continue to address pressing challenges around the world and inspire the next generation.
This year’s “Grads to Watch” — selected by their home departments and institutes — embody the spirit of U of T Engineering. Their stories illustrate the creativity, innovation and global impact that define our community. Watch their next steps!
ADVANCED NETWORK BUILDER
Manush Nandan Mohankumar (ECE MEng 2T0)
Mohankumar came to U of T to learn from Professor Alberto Leon-Garcia and Dr. Ali Tizghadam, both experts in network softwarization. This approach updates closed and fixed proprietary telecommunications hardware, such as switches and routers, with a software–based approach in order to make networks more centralized, programmable and efficient.
In the second year of his MEng program, Mohankumar worked on a technique known as “network slicing” that combines new 5G technology with existing infrastructure, resulting in better mobile data networks.
In addition to upgrading his technical skills, Mohankumar was active in many student clubs, including Troost ILead, the Indian Graduate Students Association, and the Electrical and Computer Engineering Graduate Students’ Society.
“Through these student club positions I have acquired good leadership traits, which will be useful throughout my career,” he says. “My experience has changed the way I think and make decisions. There are so many positives I will take from my time at U of T Engineering.”
Mohankumar secured an internship with Telus during the second year of his MEng program, working as a network software developer. He will be continuing full-time with the company following his graduation.
“I would like to thank my supervisors Professor Alberto Leon-Garcia and Dr. Ali Tizghadam for providing constant support and guidance. A huge shout-out to the faculty, staff and fellow students of ECE who have been part of this amazing journey. Finally, I would like to thank my family for the constant moral support.”
Shi’s passion for cybersecurity crystallized during the summer she spent in the lab of Professor Deepa Kundur. There she studied the literature on adversarial machine learning, which amounts to trying to trick artificial intelligence algorithms by violating the statistical assumptions they are based on.
“I went in expecting to just get my toes wet, but I came out with much more,” says Shi. “Professor Kundur pushed me in various directions to broaden my field of knowledge, and she showed genuine interest in me and my future career path.”
After her third year, Shi spent the summer semester working at Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) in Fredericton, N.B. where she focused on cybersecurity as it relates to nuclear facilities.
“The cybersecurity division at CNL is new and because of that, I was able to take on more responsibility than is usually given to a summer intern,” she says. “I worked on securing nuclear power plants from cyber threats, taking the theoretical knowledge I’d gained from Professor Kundur and applying it to some real systems.”
The internship was so successful that Shi will return to CNL full-time after graduation. “My job will basically be to prevent bad actors from stealing Canada’s radioactive material and making weapons with it,” she says.
Outside of class, Shi spent a lot of time at the U of T Judo Club, which helped her both physically and philosophically. “Learning judo is also a great metaphor for life. You try, fall, learn from your mistakes, then get back up and try again.”
Her advice to current students is to roll with the punches. “Confusion is the feeling of learning,” she says. “When you really don’t understand something, there’s something more basic that you’re missing. Find that basic thing, learn it, then come back and try again.”
“My eternal gratitude to Professor Deepa Kundur for supporting me and believing in me all this time. I can honestly say that my life has changed for the better because I worked up the courage to email her.”
External Relations Manager
The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering