Back to Skule™ 2020 with ChemE student leaders: Alicia Hill-Turner

As the U of T student chapter of the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering (CSChE) prepares for the 2020-21 Skule™ year, writer Amanda Hacio caught up with incoming chair, Alicia Hill-Turner (ChemE 2T0+PEY), to learn more about what her plans are for the upcoming Skule™ year, how she’s preparing for the Fall and how students can get involved in CSChE.

This is part one of three in the “Back to Skule™ 2020 with ChemE student leaders” series.

Alicia Hill-Turner (ChemE 2T0+PEY) is the incoming 2020-21 Chair of the CSChE U of T student chapter.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi there! My name is Alicia Hill-Turner (she/her pronouns) and I am a fourth year + PEY chemical engineering student at the University of Toronto obtaining a double minor in biomedical engineering and engineering business. I grew up in Kelowna, British Columbia and moved to Toronto to study engineering.

I wanted to get involved in student life in the Department because I felt I needed a sense of community at such a large university and in an even bigger city! My involvement within the Department has allowed me to connect with professors, alumni and other like-minded chemical engineering students. Outside of school you can find me biking around Toronto exploring new places and trying different types of bubble tea.

For students new to ChemE this year, can you tell us a bit more about CSChE and its mission?

The Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering (CSChE) is a national, not-for-profit, professional association with a mandate to help bridge the gap between academia and industry for chemical engineering students in Canada. The University of Toronto Chapter is a student-run chapter of the national organization.

We organize student events during the year such as professional mixers, plant tours, sector information night, Professional Experience Year Co-op (PEY Co-op) Mentorship Program, and other events relating to professional development. We also send delegates to the annual CSChE Conference to participate in competitions, workshops and other student programs.

What do you and your team at CSChE have planned for the 2020-21 academic year so far?

This year, we’re introducing two new portfolios to provide additional opportunities for ChemE students to enhance their professional development skills. This includes the entrepreneurial and academic portfolios.

The entrepreneurial portfolio will be managed by CSChE vice-chair Fletcher Han (CHEM 2T0 + PEY). He will be coordinating new events such as “ShEO” featuring women alumni who will share their experiences creating a start-up, operating their own business, or being a woman in leadership within the corporate world.

The academia portfolio managed by Judy Xia (Chem 2T2) will bridge the gap between undergraduate students and research opportunities—stay tuned for our Research Days Seminar where we pair undergraduate students with ChemE professors looking for summer research students!

We will also be continuing our PEY Co-op Mentorship Program which will be managed by Karma Sadhwani (CHEM 2T3) this year. This program aims to pair upper year ChemE students who are on PEY Co-op or who recently completed their placement with students who have shown interest in participating in PEY Co-op. We pair students based on their industry interests and provide resume feedback and interview prep. We also hold three PEY Co-op mentorship events per semester where students can attend panel discussions to learn about the experiences of students in the program.

What University, Faculty and/or Department resources have you found to be most helpful to manage the changes brought on by COVID-19 and the pivot to online learning? 

There are many resources I have found to be helpful in managing the changes brought on by COVID-19, but I would say my top two recommended resources are Quercus and my U of T email.

Quercus is a great resource to find your course syllabus, instructor contact information and any relevant course announcements. This enables me to see how the course material is being presented (whether synchronous or asynchronous, for example) and what the course deliverables are.

Checking my U of T email regularly has been an effective way for me to check for updates and changes from the University, the Dean and the Department. I find this resource helps me to stay updated with the many changes brought on by COVID-19.

What advice do you have for students going into the school year? 

My biggest piece of advice for students is to try to establish a consistent schedule when studying from home. I make sure I’m awake and ready to start my work by 9 a.m. and do my best to take regular breaks, including a full 30 minutes for lunch. I also think it’s really important to finish my day right at 5pm as often as possible. It’s really easy to fall into the trap of working all the time when you’re working mostly from home, and that’s something I’m doing my best to avoid. I find having a consistent schedule is crucial to ensuring I’m balancing my schoolwork with my extracurriculars, exercising and personal time!

What CSChE events should students keep an eye out for? 

The CSChE team has been working hard over the summer to provide students with a lineup of amazing online events for the Fall! Here are some events students can look forward to:

  • Professor-Student Mixer: September 15, 2020 (6 p.m. EST)
    Mingle with your profs outside of a classroom setting, have a little fun playing online games like ChemEng Jeopardy or Family Feud all while establishing connections with your Professor!
  • PEY Mentorship Kick-Off Event: September 17, 2020 (6 p.m. EST)
    Want to learn more about PEY Co-op? Then this event is for you! A panel of current ChemE students will discuss their PEY Co-op experience so far from companies such as Deloitte, Walmart, Inkbox and the Ministry of the Environment.
  • CSChE Annual Conference: October 26-30, 2020
    Learn more about chemical engineering research breakthroughs, industry developments and connect with other ChemE students from other Canadian Universities! Registration forms will be sent to your U of T email in September so stay tuned!
  • Sector Info Night: November 2020 (date TBA)
    Listen to successful U of T ChemE alumni discuss their path to success after university during a night of presentations and networking! ChemE alumni from diverse sectors such as finance, sustainability, government and pharmaceuticals will be present and ready to share their experiences and advice.

How can students get in touch with you or your club to learn more or to get involved? 

We are always happy to connect with ChemE students—connect with us on social media (Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn), visit our website, or students can always reach us by email at with any questions!