Written by: Chanel Smith
I’ll start by saying that receiving the AEE Canada East Founders Scholarship for a second time is an incredible honour. I was beyond shocked when I got the news, but I am nonetheless extremely grateful for AEECE and what they have done for myself and other university students.
Prior to receiving the award the first time around, I had no idea that the Association of Energy Engineers existed. Since then, I have gained access to an expanded network and more exposure in the energy engineering world. It’s not often that receiving a scholarship comes with opportunities to join a new community filled with successful people in the field that you aspire to be in. It is truly a unique scholarship and without it, I would not only be more financially burdened, but I would be less connected to the amazing opportunities around me.
After completing the first two years of my program online, I made the move to Ottawa in September of 2022. With this being my first year in person at Carleton, being back in the classroom has had many benefits. Aside from the obvious face-to-face interactions, the insight into the research areas of our professors and graduate students has been particularly inspiring. I ended up touring Carleton’s Centre for Home Energy Research (CHEeR house) which was a fun way to see concepts learned in class come to life for the self-heating home.
The tour of the CHEeR house helped me become familiar with the amazing research Carleton is doing as well as the avenues available to get involved. This sparked an interest in getting involved with grad students to get a closer look at the research side of engineering. Fast forward to May of 2023 and I am now working as a research assistant at Carleton’s Center for Advanced Building Envelope Research (CABER). I had not considered the importance of building envelope research before this, so getting to work with graduate and PhD students at CABER has been an eye-opening and valuable learning experience. It has helped me become more aware of the importance of retrofit strategies as well as the inspiring ways that Carleton staff and students are helping bring new solutions to life. I attended Carleton in anticipation of learning how to design for a greener future, so I am extremely grateful for the chance to experience the research and development process firsthand. I am also very thankful to be working with and learning from an amazing group of people who are making valuable contributions in building energy research. Each day has presented new opportunities for me to grow and learn while also leaving room for my own contributions. I am certain that receiving the AEECE award helped lead me to my job at CABER. Having the award and my story highlighted online has made me more accessible to the energy engineering community as well as potential employers. Beyond this, I hope my story reaches BIPOC students and inspires them to pursue post-secondary education in any field but especially the environmental/energy sector.